Meghan Markle is so much more than the actress from Suits.
In an essay for Elle UK, Prince Harry‘s girlfriend tackled the difficult subject of identity and the shocking backlash she received after the producers of her show casted black actor Wendell Pierce as her on-screen dad. Intense stuff.
The up-and-comer opened the piece by detailing her early years as a biracial child, as she candidly wrote:
“To describe something as being black and white means it is clearly defined. Yet when your ethnicity is black and white, the dichotomy is not that clear. In fact, it creates a grey area. Being biracial paints a blurred line that is equal parts staggering and illuminating.”
Of course, this empowering op-ed comes not long after her man condemned the internet trolls who were writing racist things to Meghan and harassing her family. She continued:
“There was a mandatory census I had to complete in my English class ├óΓé¼ΓÇ£ you had to check one of the boxes to indicate your ethnicity: white, black, Hispanic or Asian. There I was (my curly hair, my freckled face, my pale skin, my mixed race) looking down at these boxes, not wanting to mess up, but not knowing what to do. You could only choose one, but that would be to choose one parent over the other ├óΓé¼ΓÇ£ and one half of myself over the other. My teacher told me to check the box for Caucasian. ‘Because that’s how you look, Meghan,’ she said. I put down my pen. Not as an act of defiance, but rather a symptom of my confusion. I couldn’t bring myself to do that, to picture the pit-in-her-belly sadness my mother would feel if she were to find out. So, I didn’t tick a box. I left my identity blank ├óΓé¼ΓÇ£ a question mark, an absolute incomplete ├óΓé¼ΓÇ£ much like how I felt.”
Upon returning home, a young Meghan informed her father about what had happened and he advised her to draw her own box. Now that’s good parenting!
Sadly, the rest of the world wasn’t always as welcoming to her “other” status — especially as she tried to get started in the industry. For a long time Markle was pegged as being “ethnically ambiguous,” and soon discovered she “wasn’t black enough for the black roles” and “wasn’t white enough for the white ones”.
However, the 35-year-old soon landed her dream job on the USA hit as the producers weren’t casting a look but wanted an actress who would truly embody the character Rachel Zane. Despite the producers openminded casting, fans weren’t necessarily as forward thinking as many of them were taken aback when Pierce took on the role as Robert Zane. Meghan recalled:
“I remember the tweets when that first episode of the Zane family aired, they ran the gamut from: ‘Why would they make her dad black? She’s not black’ to ‘Ew, she’s black? I used to think she was hot.’ The latter was blocked and reported. The reaction was unexpected, but speaks of the undercurrent of racism that is so prevalent, especially within America”
How awful. While we are heartbroken to hear about the poor treatment Meghan’s had to face over the years, we’re incredibly proud to see how she’s taken these experiences and used them to help inspire change. The It-girl concluded:
“So you make a choice: continue living your life feeling muddled in this abyss of self-misunderstanding, or you find your identity independent of it. You push for colour-blind casting, you draw your own box. You introduce yourself as who you are, not what colour your parents happen to be. You cultivate your life with people who don’t lead with ethnic descriptions such as, ‘that black guy Tom’, but rather friends who say: ‘You know? Tom, who works at [blah blah] and dates [fill in the blank] girl.’ You create the identity you want for yourself, just as my ancestors did when they were given their freedom.”
Hear! Hear! Be sure to read Meghan’s insightful letter in its entirety for yourself HERE!
[Image via WENN.]