I am everywhere but I am nowhere.

I didn’t need the Oprah CBS special interview with the former Duchess, Meghan Markle and former Prince, Harry to know and understand that Meghan Markle was at the center of a tangled web called racism and sexism. You see, Meghan is just like me. She’s just like you. She’s a Black woman (of mixed race) who experienced insurmountable discrimination, microaggressions, and prejudice that many of us have a hard time explaining for a few reasons. The first, is that it’s very hard to name it and pinpoint it. Especially if you haven’t been versed in the hidden messages of racism and sexism but also because microaggressions and bias happen so subtly, that it goes over your head. The second reason is the fear of retaliation. We never know what will happen to us if we report the harm that’s been done to us. And finally, we often are not believed when we report these erroneous experiences. Meghan wasn’t believed when she was going through it and after the interview, many still don’t believe her. 

I am everywhere but I am nowhere.

When you’re a Black woman in an all white space (or any space, if we’re being honest) you are highly visible and invisible at the same time. It’s fascinating really. Researchers Hodges & Welch (2017) would call this concept “a fly in buttermilk.” We easily stand out. As a diversity and inclusion practitioner, I teach my clients about implicit biases all of the time. One of the things we talk about in my sessions is about how easy it is for biases to form and show up in our daily lives. For example, if you have the same type of people in one space and bring in someone who identifies differently, you will begin to say, do, and make biased decisions about that one person. Meghan was the first Black person to enter into the Royal Family in England. For centuries, this family has maintained their “pure” whiteness and have been the example of what royalty should look like. Meghan, was not their idea of a royal. She may be of mixed race, but what have we learned in the U.S. when it comes to Blackness? If you have one drop of Black blood…you know the rest. And anti-Blackness isn’t confined to the U.S. Anti-Blackness is deeply rooted in Europe and European practices. Hell, do we need to take a journey down history lane about the trans-Atlantic slave trade, global capitalism, and white supremacy? 

But for Black women, the discrimination against us is different. We aren’t just marginalized because we are Black or because we are a woman. We get the brunt of both of those simultaneously and it’s hard to name the oppression we face. Like Meghan, I’ve been in plenty of predominantly white spaces where I was the only Black person and Black woman and was at the forefront of all of the horrific biases. I’ve been lied on. I’ve been told that I was always angry. Colleagues would CC my supervisor on emails all of the time. I’ve been criticized for how I wear my hair. I’ve been told I was hard to work with and not a team player. I’ve been asked to do extra amounts of work for no extra pay. I’ve been offered low paying wages for jobs even though, at the time, I had two degrees. The list goes on. I remember how hard it was to finally get the courage to report what was happening to me to human resources at one particular job. And I remember not getting any support. I remember not being believed. I remember the pain and anxiety I felt about returning to a hostile work environment. When Meghan and Harry spoke about not receiving support, all of those painful memories flooded back to me. 

I am everywhere but I am nowhere.

Do you know what it’s like to constantly have to shrink yourself down? To know that you’re Black but try hard to not “show” that you’re Black? It got to the point where Meghan didn’t want to live anymore. Do you know what it’s like to get to that point because of the blatant and covert racism and sexism others are inflicting on you? Do you know what it’s like to feel like “you’re everywhere but nowhere” at the same time? For many Black women, this is our story. While we may not be married into “royal blood,” we’ve been socialized to shrink ourselves down and not draw too much attention to ourselves. We’ve been told to just be quiet or we’ve been silenced in our work spaces or even home lives for the sake of not disrupting too much of the norm. 

But the reality is, the world cannot exist or operate without Black women. We are the standard. We are what everyone wants to be and emulate. The way you dress, they way you have to tan to get dark, the style of music you like, the best food you’ve had in your life, the beauty you wish you possessed all comes from Black women. And more! Meghan brought some life into that royal family and the way the world embraced her, I’m sure brought up some jealousy from members of the royal family and staff. They drove her and Harry away, not the other way around. And it was disheartening to hear that they were willing to stay in the family despite the egregious things happening to Meghan. How often have we as Black women sacrificed our dignity and stayed in situations that were bad for our mental health? We do it in relationships and our work environments and other areas of our lives.

And for the folks saying “she knew what she was getting into when she married a white man…married into the royal family…etc. etc.” y’all can be quiet. The victim blaming has to stop. 

This isn’t a piece to give you some call to action on how to support Black women and check your racial biases, I’ve given you plenty of that advice over the years. You figure out how to do the work.

I see you, Meghan. I believe you. It’s happened to me, too. Don’t ever dim your light for anyone ever again.

❤ Queen T

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s