Meghan Markle says she was never ‘treated like a Black woman’ before dating Prince Harry
Meghan Markle and Mariah Carey are getting candid about their experiences growing up biracial in America.
On the second episode of her Spotify podcast Archetypes, released on Tuesday, the Duchess of Sussex, 41, chatted with the 53-year-old superstar about how growing up in predominantly white neighborhoods impacted their self-esteem and overall lives.
"You were so formative for me. Representation matters so much," she said to Carey. "But when you are a woman and you don't see a woman who looks like you somewhere in a position of power or influence, or even just on the screen — because we know how influential media is — you came onto the scene, I was like 'Oh, my gosh. Someone kind of looks like me.'"
Carey, whose father is Black and whose mother is white, knows what it's like to feel different among her peers.
"I didn't fit in anywhere at all," she said. "I remember being in school in this predominantly white neighborhood where my mom felt comfortable and I tried my best to feel comfortable."
At one point, she remembers a kid humiliating her in the hallway at school.
"This kid was in the hallway and he said, 'Mariah has three shirts and she wears them on rotation!'" she said. "It was true, [but] the fact that he noticed that, I'm like, why are you so obsessed with me? No, but really, I was like, why do you care? But in a world where you're the mixed kid of a full-on white neighborhood, that's what you get."
Markle went on to explain that, even today, trying to find your identity as a biracial woman is difficult, noting that her Blackness became a major focus when she started dating her husband Prince Harry, with whom she shares two children: son Archie, 3, and daughter Lilibet, 1.
"Because we're light-skinned, you're not treated as a Black woman, you're not treated as a white woman. You sort of fit in between," Markle explained. "If there's any time in my life where it's been more focused on my race, it's only when I started dating my husband; then I started to understand what it was like to be treated like a Black woman because up until then I had been treated like a mixed woman — and things really shifted."
Carey pointed out that identifying as "mixed woman" can be complicated.
"That's an interesting thing: a 'mixed woman,'" Carey said. "I always thought it should be OK to say 'I'm mixed.' It should be OK to say that but people want you to choose."
"My father's father's mother was Venezuelan," she continued. "But my father’s family is Black so everybody was like, ‘Her father is Venezuelan and Black’ because they didn't know how to put me in that box. They want you to put you in a box and categorize you."
Markle's podcast is one of the latest projects she's taken on since she and her husband announced their decision to step back as senior members of the royal family in January 2020.
Markle has said she's still "healing" from that whole ordeal.
"It's interesting, I've never had to sign anything that restricts me from talking. I can talk about my whole experience and make a choice not to," she told The Cut, noting that the reason she's stayed quiet is that she is "still healing."
"I think forgiveness is really important," she added. "But it takes a lot of effort to forgive. I've really made an active effort, especially knowing that I can say anything, I have a lot to say until I don't. Do you like that? Sometimes, as they say, the silent part is still part of the song."
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