The Media’s Racist Othering of Meghan Markle

When the news broke in October 2016 that Prince Harry had gotten together with mixed (African-American and Caucasian) actress and activist, Meghan Markle, all hell broke loose.

“(She) has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment. Some of this has been very public – the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments.” – Prince Harry’s Statement on the Press Coverage

Hideously racist headlines such as, ‘Harry’s girl is (almost) straight outta Compton: Gang-scarred home of her mother revealed‘ trying to smear Markle’s family as a gang members because they live in Crenshaw, LA.

The DM said that ‘they are from very different worlds’ as ‘Markle grew up in an area that was home to the Bloods gang’.

Interestingly they didn’t mention her self-made success as an actress, activist and businesswoman, but instead used racist stereotypes to fuel the fire of the bigots who were protesting the relationship.

There was then the headlines circulating that Markle was on a porn website, yet the video was a sex scene from the TV series Suits that she stars in.

Markle is also constantly called ‘Harry’s girlfriend’ or his ‘American girl’ by the press, diminishing her achievements and proving that misogynoir is alive and well.

One of the main arguments against their relationship is that Markle is not of ‘Blue Blood’, meaning that she doesn’t come from a purely white (refers to the translucent appearance of blue veins) European noble family, which is believed to be a requirement to become a part of the Royal Family.

Today The Mirror published an article on, ‘How Meghan Markle should be addressed if she marries Prince Harry‘ arguing that she could never be a real princess if her and Harry married, even though she would be given the official title, as it will be ‘an altogether different measure of prestige. No blue blood‘.

However there was no mention of so called ‘blue blood’ about Kate Middleton when she became William’s partner.

Despite the racist remarks that have been made against Meghan Markle, Prince Harry has received a lot of praise for dating a woman of colour, which echoes the way that white men are glorified for finding non-white women attractive.

Of course, heavy scrutiny is expected of a partner and potential spouse of a member of the Royal Family, but the way that the press and the public have treated her shows a stark difference to the reception of Harry’s previous girlfriends.

On Markle’s website The Tig she has addressed the effect that racism has had on her life, sharing a story on how her grandparents had to eat in the ‘coloureds’ section of a restaurant she says that:

  “It makes me think of the countless black jokes people have shared in front of me, not realizing I am mixed, unaware that I am the ethnically ambiguous fly on the wall. It makes me wonder what my parents experienced as a mixed race couple. It echoes the time my mom and I were leaving a concert at The Hollywood Bowl, and a woman called her the “N” word because she was taking too long to pull out of the parking spot” – Meghan Markle

On her mixed-race heritage she told Elle UK in a personal essay, that she enjoys voicing her pride in being ‘a strong, confident mixed-race woman’.

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