Black women are root­ing for Meghan Markle

The Guardian - G2 - - News - Char­lie Brinkhurst-cuff

On Tues­day, I shook Meghan Markle’s hand. As a Suits fan, this was a plea­sure, but as Markle is about to join the royal fam­ily it caused my repub­li­can self some con­ster­na­tion. As she shyly came for­ward to shake the hands of rows of (mainly) black women who had lined up to of­fer her their con­grat­u­la­tions, I had be­come part of the rau­cous cho­rus of ado­ra­tion.

My damp hand­shake rep­re­sented the fact that, for many black women in the UK, Markle’s forth­com­ing as­cen­sion to the ti­tle of Duchess re­ally means some­thing; a stamp of ap­proval from what is still, un­for­tu­nately, re­garded as an im­por­tant so­ci­etal hi­er­ar­chy. Although Markle is the ac­cept­able, light-skinned face of black­ness, whose ex­pe­ri­ences di­verge from the ma­jor­ity of black women, she has still won the hearts and minds of many of my peers.

The rea­son I saw Meghan and Harry in the flesh was be­cause they were on their se­cond of­fi­cial pub­lic en­gage­ment to­gether, at Reprezent 107.3FM in Brix­ton, a com­mu­nity ra­dio sta­tion that gives a plat­form to young pre­sen­ters from di­verse back­grounds and launched the ca­reers of artist Stor­mzy and DJ Jamz Su­per­nova.

Two mem­bers of gal-dem, a mag­a­zine and col­lec­tive writ­ten and run by women and non- bi­nary peo­ple of colour to im­prove me­dia di­ver­sity, were able to greet her in a pri­vate area, tell her a lit­tle about the mag­a­zine (of which I am deputy edi­tor, and which also has a show on Reprezent), and slip her a copy of an is­sue that fo­cuses on sub­jects such as Gren­fell, Calais, grow­ing up mixed-race, and fem­i­nism in Saudi Ara­bia.

She had ap­par­ently heard of us and was ex­cited to read the mag. My dreams last night were filled with the thought of lit­tle brown ba­bies one day dis­cov­er­ing the copy of gal-dem tucked away in the op­u­lent bow­els of Kens­ing­ton Palace, be­com­ing rad­i­calised, re­nounc­ing their ti­tles and over­throw­ing the monar­chy.

It is fair to say I am still not ac­tively ex­cited by Markle join­ing the ranks of the royal fam­ily, but per­haps her pres­ence will do a pinch of good within them. It is dif­fi­cult to know how much she will be used to ful­fil the ir­ri­tat­ingly fash­ion­able di­ver­sity quota that ev­ery pub­lic body needs in 2018 to stay rel­e­vant, or whether she will be able to lead the way with some au­ton­omy.

As Markle is an ar­dent fem­i­nist who has ad­vo­cated for women and peo­ple of colour, I have a lit­tle faith – even though she has now deleted all her so­cial me­dia chan­nels, which were once so ac­tive and supportive of women. And, of course, she has also said good­bye to her act­ing ca­reer. Even so (and problems with the in­sti­tu­tion of monar­chy aside), black Bri­tish women cer­tainly have Markle’s back.

Meghan­markle on­her (above) visit­toreprezent 107.3Fm,when she­washanded thi­sis­sueof gal-dem

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