It’s 3 am. In a delusional haze I ask myself why? Why did I wake up this early just to see another reminder of the lasting power of colonization? Am I a masochist? Or was it really a bad case of what the kids call: FOMO? But by 5 am I knew why. I was watching a piece of history, one of the few that featured someone who looked liked me.
I am the daughter of a Dutch-Indonesian father and Mexican mother. My whole life I’ve been searching for my identity and what box I fit into. Everytime someone asks me where my parents are from I know “the Bay Area” isn’t the answer they’re looking for. When in my first year of college a boy told me I wasn’t like “the other girls” I was “spicy” – he wasn’t talking about my personality.
Being multiracial has made me the most proud but also given me the most questions. Where do I fit in? How do I truthfully present my identity to the world? How do I embrace my culture but also acknowledge the privilege my light skin has given me?
On Saturday morning, I saw a woman who not only embraced her full self but made space for those who weren’t in the room. I felt validated. Validated to see a woman use a moment as unthreatening and patriarchy-pleasing as a royal wedding to reject any attempt to whitewash her and sideline her identity.
Markle chose Bishop Michael Bruce Curry, the first African-American head of the Episcopal Church to give a sermon. As he evoked Martin Luther King Jr.’s words about the “redemptive power of love,” it was clear this was more than just another royal wedding.
Bishop Michael Curry quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the #royalwedding: “We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world." pic.twitter.com/PcdxMraAA8
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) May 19, 2018
This wedding stood apart from the tired singular narrative of a princess finding her prince. It was the celebration of a woman who stood firm in her identity, the prince was just a bonus. In front of an estimated 1.9 billion people worldwide, Meghan revealed her values through who she chose to center. Bishop Curry’s sermon and his history as an advocate for LGBTQ rights and racial justice served as a strong statement to the audience, that her identity and progressive values would not be taking a back seat no matter her new royal title.
As the Kingdom Choir sang “Stand by Me,” Meghan showed the audience the beauty and strength beyond any veil or custom bridal gown. The same beauty and spirit that lead her ancestors and other Black Americans and Britons to survive, overcome, and thrive over insurmountable odds. As the newlywed couple walked out to the song “This Little Light of Mine,” Prince Harry and Meghan Markle took their first steps as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. This name was taken with purpose from Prince Augustus Frederick, the son of King George III and Queen Charlotte – and an antislavery advocate.
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) May 19, 2018
Constantly, multiracial people are asked and sometimes even forced to “pick a side.” As if our identities could be split in half and itemized. As if we could pick one side of our families over another. I do not pretend to know what seeing Meghan Markle meant to Black women around the world. But I can say that seeing Meghan Markle take on the responsibility of a light skinned multiracial woman and show the breadth and depth of her culture was inspiring. By unapologetically claiming her identity and making room for others, she gave us a moving example of how to use your power and voice.
I hope this wedding is the beginning of a new wave for the royal family. One that acts as a nation’s moral compass — embracing immigrants, exemplifying gender equality, and celebrating diversity. That would really be a dream come true.
Meghan Markle is stunning. I’m thinking of the millions of multiracial girls and women like myself who are finally seeing a royal who looks like them for the first time. And a woman who is a proud feminist #RoyalWedding pic.twitter.com/8lEL2bwMY7
— Nicola Schulze (@shlzn) May 19, 2018