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There’s Still So Much More to Meghan Markle’s Story

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What’s new is Meghan conveying just how wholly unprepared she was for the torrent of racist abuse she’d field as a royal wife—not just because she was an American unversed in the ways of the Firm and the British tabloids, but because of her own tenuous connection to Blackness. She recalled leaving a concert with Ragland at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, Ragland honking at a languishing car and and the woman screaming the  ‘n-word’ back at her. Ragland white-knuckled the steering wheel, “and she was just silent the rest of the drive home,” Meghan recalled in a “This is Your Life”-style drive through L.A. in Harry & Meghan. “We never talked about it.”

Given the privilege of her light skin, Meghan had previously skirted the overt racism that would come to be lobbed at her on the grandest stage possible. “I’d never in my life heard someone say the n-word,” Meghan said. “It’s very different to be a minority but not be treated as a minority off the bat. I would say now, people are very aware of my race because they made it such an issue when I went to the U.K. But, before that, most people didn’t treat me like”—here, she makes air quotes— “a Black woman. So that talk didn’t have to happen for me.” It’s a statement that illuminates how jarring and emotionally complex it must have been—and perhaps still is—to be relentlessly targeted over an identity she’d struggled to make sense of herself.

This fine point is further underlined by Meghan’s former agent, Nick Collins, who says he didn’t initially know she was biracial, thinking instead that she was  a “sun-kissed,” freckly Californian. He was met with confusion from casting directors once he began sending Meghan to audition for “Black roles,” noting that she was biracial. “Well,” Collins was told, “she doesn’t look it.”

In Harry & Meghan, Ragland expresses regret for not speaking more directly with Meghan about race. “As a parent, in hindsight, absolutely, I would like to go back and have that kind of real conversation about how the world sees you,” she said, even if their lack of frank talk feels typical of the ’90s, before a boom of anti-racist children’s books and when not talking about racial discomfort was tantamount to an effort to will it out of existence. Later, Ragland was more forward. When the tabloid attacks began to escalate, she recalled telling Meghan: “’This is about race,’ and Meg said, ‘Mommy, I don’t want to hear that.’” Ragland responded: “You may not want to hear it, but this is what’s coming down the pike.” It’s terribly human, that Meghan—a feminist activist (even before Harry) on behalf of underrepresented and oppressed women and girls could still possibly be in denial about the forces working against her. 

For Meghan, teetering between the racial identities of her divorced parents and trying to find her place in between them turned out to be practice. Her lifelong struggle to blend in was suddenly magnified when she found herself trying to fit in with one of the whitest, wealthiest families on the planet. In a striking glimpse into sartorial diplomacy, she shared that she favored muted cream and camel-colored clothes in order to appear inoffensive, to avoid standing out and to fold into The Firm as seamlessly as possible. Not to mention, Meghan noted, that wearing various hues of buttery beige seemed efficient because royal women were to avoid wearing the same color as The Queen (who often wore bold Easter egg shades), or royal women more senior to them. 

“There’s no version of me joining this family and trying to not do everything I could to fit in,” Meghan said. Given her life experience, I believe it.


What’s new is Meghan conveying just how wholly unprepared she was for the torrent of racist abuse she’d field as a royal wife—not just because she was an American unversed in the ways of the Firm and the British tabloids, but because of her own tenuous connection to Blackness. She recalled leaving a concert with Ragland at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, Ragland honking at a languishing car and and the woman screaming the  ‘n-word’ back at her. Ragland white-knuckled the steering wheel, “and she was just silent the rest of the drive home,” Meghan recalled in a “This is Your Life”-style drive through L.A. in Harry & Meghan. “We never talked about it.”

Given the privilege of her light skin, Meghan had previously skirted the overt racism that would come to be lobbed at her on the grandest stage possible. “I’d never in my life heard someone say the n-word,” Meghan said. “It’s very different to be a minority but not be treated as a minority off the bat. I would say now, people are very aware of my race because they made it such an issue when I went to the U.K. But, before that, most people didn’t treat me like”—here, she makes air quotes— “a Black woman. So that talk didn’t have to happen for me.” It’s a statement that illuminates how jarring and emotionally complex it must have been—and perhaps still is—to be relentlessly targeted over an identity she’d struggled to make sense of herself.

This fine point is further underlined by Meghan’s former agent, Nick Collins, who says he didn’t initially know she was biracial, thinking instead that she was  a “sun-kissed,” freckly Californian. He was met with confusion from casting directors once he began sending Meghan to audition for “Black roles,” noting that she was biracial. “Well,” Collins was told, “she doesn’t look it.”

In Harry & Meghan, Ragland expresses regret for not speaking more directly with Meghan about race. “As a parent, in hindsight, absolutely, I would like to go back and have that kind of real conversation about how the world sees you,” she said, even if their lack of frank talk feels typical of the ’90s, before a boom of anti-racist children’s books and when not talking about racial discomfort was tantamount to an effort to will it out of existence. Later, Ragland was more forward. When the tabloid attacks began to escalate, she recalled telling Meghan: “’This is about race,’ and Meg said, ‘Mommy, I don’t want to hear that.’” Ragland responded: “You may not want to hear it, but this is what’s coming down the pike.” It’s terribly human, that Meghan—a feminist activist (even before Harry) on behalf of underrepresented and oppressed women and girls could still possibly be in denial about the forces working against her. 

For Meghan, teetering between the racial identities of her divorced parents and trying to find her place in between them turned out to be practice. Her lifelong struggle to blend in was suddenly magnified when she found herself trying to fit in with one of the whitest, wealthiest families on the planet. In a striking glimpse into sartorial diplomacy, she shared that she favored muted cream and camel-colored clothes in order to appear inoffensive, to avoid standing out and to fold into The Firm as seamlessly as possible. Not to mention, Meghan noted, that wearing various hues of buttery beige seemed efficient because royal women were to avoid wearing the same color as The Queen (who often wore bold Easter egg shades), or royal women more senior to them. 

“There’s no version of me joining this family and trying to not do everything I could to fit in,” Meghan said. Given her life experience, I believe it.

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