Updated: Monday, November 27, 2017, 2:29 PM
I awoke Monday morning to the news that actress Meghan Markle was engaged to Prince Harry, and it’s looking like the couple will tie the knot in the spring.
Maybe it’s the prince’s red hair. Maybe it’s his scruffy hipster beard. Maybe it’s his penchant toward humanitarianism. Who knows? All I know is that I’ve been a fan of Harry the Heartthrob for more than a minute. This 33-year-old Highness brings out the cougar in me. (Insert purrr here.)
Markle, best known for her role as Rachel Zane on the USA Network drama Suits, identifies as biracial. Her mother, yoga instructor Doria Ragland, is black. Her cinematographer dad, Thomas Markle, is white.
That means Markle will be the first woman of color to enter the notoriously stodgy British monarchy. She won’t have the title princess because she doesn’t come from royal blood, but we know she’ll have the perks.
So in addition to the crazy speculation and preparation — oooh, what will she wear? — that will go on in advance of the royal wedding, there is one more exciting piece of this modern-day fairy tale: a woman of color — a 36-year-old, divorced American black woman — has straight-up landed herself a real-life prince!
This news is particularly heartwarming when black women are constantly inundated with purported statistics that try to prove we won’t get the happily ever after. Take the canker from my Facebook feed this weekend: Quartzy Global Life Style editor David Kaufman attempted to explain why former first daughter Malia Obama would be kissing a fellow Harvard student who is — gasp — a white guy. (Never mind the fact that Obama just may like 19-year-old Rory Farquharson.)
Kaufman trudged out all the expected facts: According to a Pew Research poll, only 30 percent of black adults were married as of 2015. And, yes, it’s really hard for black women — especially those with degrees — to marry an equally yoked brother, because black men don’t go to college and they all end up in jail. (Sarcasm intended.)
And then Kaufman threw in this almost four-year-old factoid pointing to OKCupid: black women are America’s least-desired group by men of all races.
Ouch. Double Ouch.
So this is why I sat at yet another Thanksgiving dinner table without a partner at my side — because nobody finds me attractive?
Whatever, man! If black women are so undesirable, why is everything from our cornrows to our curvy behinds being appropriated by the likes of the Kardashians?
These stats continue to reinforce the jacked-up notion that the single, college-educated woman is on the fast track to old maid status, and that makes happiness more and more elusive.
“The negative cycle — especially in dating — sucks us in,” said Pax Tandon, a Philadelphia positive psychology expert and wellness coach. “It becomes a vortex or self-fulfilling prophecy that will become your reality if you let it.”
But that’s why Markle’s engagement news is giving me life: She’s helping to change this sad narrative into a fairy tale.
And we’re seeing more and more high-profile examples of black women experiencing joy in nontraditional romantic partnerships.
Ciara and Russell Wilson have it going on. Philly-bred rapper Eve, who married British millionaire Maximillion Cooper three years ago, caught some internet hell for marrying a white man, but they’re still going strong. (She even recently started her new gig as one of the cohosts of CBS’s The Talk.)
This month, Serena Williams married cofounder and executive chairman of Reddit Alexis Ohanian in New Orleans. And New Edition, yes, New Edition performed at the wedding. If that’s not winning, then I don’t know what is.
And what if marriage — whether it’s to a blue-collar dreamer or a white-collar schemer — doesn’t turn out to be a woman’s perfect life scenario? Two weeks ago, Blackish star Tracee Ellis Ross gave an inspirational speech at Glamour’s 2017 Woman of the Year Summit about how her status as a single, educated black woman has allowed her to live in a certain truth that she didn’t even know was possible.
As for Markle, I bet her willingness to stand in her truth — despite racist backlash from the British tabloids when it became clear this time last year that she was, in fact, Prince Harry’s main squeeze — is absolutely why she’s on her way to becoming the future Duchess of Sussex.
Just by saying, “I do,” Markle will break the mold of colonization and white supremacy that has defined the British aristocracy.
I’d be surprised if Markle didn’t quickly settle into the role of modern-day princess with her own personal take on social issues. But even if Markle doesn’t speak her mind at every turn, her presence will speak volumes in photographs seen around the world: an American-born black woman can be and do the seemingly impossible — including assuming the role of princess in Western culture.