Meghan Markle – A Right Royal debate!
Should art or artefacts be used as pawns in today’s racial politics? Or Should 300 or 400-year-old words be judged by today’s literately canon?
The start of this piece isn’t about Princess Michael of Kent, it’s about a piece of her jewellery. She wore a Blackamoor brooch (above) to a lunch a few years ago that Meghan Markle attended. Some will argue, and many did in 2017, that she was being racist by wearing the brooch.
I have to be upfront that if it hadn’t been discussed in the media for the last three years, I wouldn’t have known that Meghan Markle was black? To be fair, I didn’t know she was an actress either. Harry is a very lucky man she is a dark-haired beauty.
In my view, there’s a long hard road between a burning cross on a lawn, and being accused of racism for wearing or owning a piece of jewellery or art.
How far back in history do we need to go in order to admire or own art or artefacts without it being ‘underlying’ racist? Take for example Jesus Christ, he was black, so is it racist to admire and show images of him? I wear a crucifix which is a black-man who died on a cross, am I racist or is 2000 years ago just far enough back in history for art or artefacts not to be deemed racists?
It got me interested though, so I Googled, ‘what are the racist comments made to/about Markle,’ a) because I felt sorry for her and I’d not heard or read any comments, and b) because she doesn’t look black, I wanted to know what people could say about her looks to offend her or the people who are loudly and more offended on her behalf? Perhaps the old school ‘melon lips’ or ‘pickaninny’ comments, would appear high on the list? Today, that is seen as racists language and has been dropped from our normal discourse, but back in the day when the French called us Brits “Rostbif’ and kids in glasses like me were ‘four eyes,’ they were imaginative and colourful descriptions, and the rostbif and speckies came back with something just as imaginative, such as ‘froggie… '
I’m not black I am a white heterosexual male, but I’m not privileged, read my piece ‘First up Best Dressed,' (https://vocal.media/families/poverty-yu2zt0gpn0yet) and I fail to understand why a black face on a piece of jewellery is racist? Would there have been the same outcry if it were a white face on the brooch, or are we now starting to treat art like jars of jam? It was another black face that caused Robertson’s to change their marketing strategy in 2002, although Robertsons deny it wasn’t due to the pressure of political correctness, but their collectibles scheme was no longer popular with the young ones.
In my search for racist comments, all I could find were statements from outraged people like Tricia Goddard who felt ‘physically sick’ when she read the racist comments that were being made about Meghan. Which I still couldn’t find on any further searches? I did however find lots of ‘personal’ comments about her, i.e. ‘she wears the trousers in the relationship’, speculations about her diet, God forbid she wears ‘hair extensions’, and as you would imagine, lots of comparisons between her and Kate Middleton. And to be honest lots of boring stuff like ‘she showed a little bit of bra strap’ and the media were outraged, plus pithy comments about her wedding dress, etcetera, etcetera.
What I did find interesting though, is that all the items I’ve just listed, and there‘s another 10-15 similar personal attacks, were on a website under a heading called,
‘When Meghan was first unveiled as Prince Harry’s long-term girlfriend, the racist backlash began’.
So, not only am I a white heterosexual male, I’m a northerner, even worse I’m a Scouse, even worser a writer. I have an MA in writing, and a few months away from completing my PhD. but even academically, I fail to understand what is racist about the above list of criticisms of Markle? How do we translate Meghan’s ‘inappropriate dark nail polish’ (cited as another racist remark) into hate speech, rather than the usual jealously of the hoi polloi over success, even perhaps a comment from a fashion guru who thinks they know better? or, just the normal banter about the royals when a new one joins?
Then, I found the "Straight Outta Compton,' quote which is, according to the commentators, where the racism started. Brilliant, I will be proved wrong with my analysis and the Sussexes' will be justified in their snowflakery.
I spent a lot of time researching the movie, and on the basis of the accolades it's recieved, I'll definitely watch it the next time I'm on Netflix. It was awarded Best Picture, Best Ensemble and Best Supporting Actor by the African-American Film Critics, there were similiar awards plus Best Director, and Best Original Score at the Black Reel Awards, and the Best Ensemble by the Alliance of Woman Film Journalists. A total success.
The artical that started my research read;
'Harry's girl is (almost) straight outta Compton: Gang-scarred home of her mother revealed - so will he be dropping by for tea?'
This piece is not about her ethnicity it's about where her mother lives and asks the question if Harry would be comfortable there as apposed to a palace in the UK? What some of the media are inferring, is that by comparing a black person with another black person is somehow deemed as racist. How has a comparison like this, turned into a racial slur? My view is that of course it isn't racist, but, it is poor journalism and defiantly a cheap shot. The author is trying to draw a comparison to Markle's family background with the rappers in the movie because they live in the same place. For example I was born in Liverpool, hence 'Scouse' and if your friend said to you, "I hope you checked your wallet or family silver,' after I'd visited your house, it’s based on the reputation of the city from decades ago and it seems I’m being tarred with the same brush.
What I do find worrying, is that we now have people who are ‘woke’, and actively look for situations or words to find offensive because of their perceived literary roots. (I’m probably now in trouble for using the word ‘roots’?) A case in point are words like; ‘uppity,’ ‘thug,’ and ‘long time no see.’ These words are being judged by today’s lexicon, and many searchers stop their search when they find these kind of words being used at the time of the slave trade. For example words like ‘uppity’ being used by slave owners to describe uppity slaves. I’ve no doubt that uppity was used by slave owners it was a real word even 200 or 300 years ago, as was ‘humble’ and ‘unpretentious’ but did it start its lexiconic life as a racist word? And if it did, it still means ‘self-important’ or ’arrogant’ today, whether referring to a black or a white person, but the woke want to skew its use.
Words like ‘Thug’ for example can be traced back to the Indian sub-continent in the early 19th century and was a sect or cult, and now the woke are telling us it’s code for the ‘N’ word, when in reality, people just want a word to describe the person who mugged them.
What I can't establish is; if there are racist comments, is this victimisation against Markle because she looks black? Because she doesn’t. Is it because she has black genes? Which we can’t see, or because she identifies as black? Am I being racist by even trying to examine why a section of the media suggests that she’s being victimised in some way, and why?
Nontheless, what I have concluded is that we are going to have to re-write history or do something equally as radical if we want to stamp out racism completely. The consequences of a status quo, i.e. that we do nothing, is that the woke will continue to hijack words from centuries ago and add them to the racist lexicon of today, everyday words we use now, we won't be able to use tomorrow for fear of offending someone.
Or, the progressives among us should articulate that the racist pendulum has swung too far. We can’t/shouldn’t judge artefacts and language from even twenty years ago by today’s virtue signalling standards because it is dangerous, chronological burglary, and it actually fans the flames of racism.
And finally, in my view, art isn’t racist, it’s just art.