African American men did not think that Obama would win the presidency. While women of the same race were bent on him succeeding. Obama’s American mother and African father by definition makes him Kenyan
American. His heritage, American born with a dad straight out of African makes him a racially controversial figure. Obama embraced the African-America experience, as a result of being bombarded about his physical features. When you are a child of an American with one drop of black blood (assuming African), you are Black. This did not preclude you from passing for white, which for some was an option.
The racial divide in the USA was based on the usefulness of tagging and casting people convenient to a system of slavery. European academic publication argued for racial superiority further complicating the natural state of being human. Obama’s heritage was not of slavery nor of Jim Crow oppression, nor legal battles to integrate. He came integrated! His marriage into an African American family and culture, via Michelle, grounded his identity. A mixed-race husband escaped the pathos of so many direct descendants of slavery.
One could consider jealousy of Obama benefitting from our racial divide (in it but not of it). So it is ironic that black professionals blamed him for losing their high paying jobs, and him getting slammed for not doing enough for black folks. On the other racial side, his presidential predecessor is on a mission to discredit him and his accomplishments. As Obama reflects on his timing and legacy, there is no doubt that the baby boomer wave he rode in on is still coming ashore.
Allot of companies have sprung up recently promoting tests for DNA. Everybody is questioning their true heritage. It is well known in the African American community, where there are stories upon stories about children of mixed parentage. Black men sought white women to improve chances for their children. Light skinned girls are treated better. They got more attention. They are dad’s favorite. Men and people in general select them over their darker skinned peers.
Another irony is when one parent is white (historically privileged) and the other is black (historically underprivileged). This could make you ‘mixed’ up! Obama’s presence is like a mirror reminding us of our predicament. His achievements showed our potential. On the other hand, that very same potential challenges a ‘historical mindset’ which displaces ‘superiority’ as a dying notion. It appears being racially mixed, in and of itself, is a dilemma for many people.
Our next high profile person just joined the royal family, Meghan Markle. The idea of a Hollywood actress marrying into royalty was defined by Grace Kelly. She was blond and pretty. This made America proud. A commoner selected to be queen. She was not the only one to become queen. A past King of Jordan selected a wealthy American woman to make his queen. Nothing unusual about selecting women from good families or with high profile images to become royalty. As long as they were ‘white’ women.
In times of Trump many Americans are looking for a break from daily barrages of tweet storms. Many tuned in to the marriage of Prince Harry. If Prince William and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, had one more baby, making Prince Harry seventh in line, instead of sixth, he would not have had to ask for approval from the Queen Elizabeth for Meghan’s hand in marriage. Then again, controversy surrounding Prince’s Charles affection for divorced commoner Camilla Parker Bowles before divorcing his wife, Lady Diana Spencer is royal history. Meghan Markle was married briefly and divorced at age 32. Her mother Doria Ragland was a much younger bride at 21, though her photos show a much younger woman (almost childlike) marrying a Hollywood lighting designer eleven years her senior. This was his second which included two children. Their marriage lasted until Meghan was six. Her relationship with her father, Thomas Markle, was very close. Her grandmother played an important role as care giver. Meghan was encouraged to pursue her dreams. Her mother and grandmother fortified belief in self.
Meghan’s time on Hollywood sets, with her father, inspired her to become an actress. She is a graduate of Northwestern University in theatre and international studies. Instead of waitressing, her income came from calligraphy. Meghan’s acting career’s most notable role, ‘Rachel’ an attorney, for seven years on the TV show ‘Suits’. She handled her life and career with grace and dignity.
She learned early that speaking up for what is right has tremendous impact. Her response to an ‘Ivory soap’ ad by Proctor and Gamble, after her male classmates affirmed their ad idea , that women belonged at home in the kitchen. A letter writing campaign pursued influential women to protest. She selected power figures including First Lady Hillary Clinton. Within a month the ad was changed from ‘Women all over America… to People all over America…’ establishing her as an advocate and activist for women causes.
Prince Harry age 33 the younger son of Diana, Princess of Wales, upon meeting Meghan Markle age 36 knew ‘she was the one’. While Meghan was aware of him, she knew little and inquired as to his kindness. Prince Harry picked up the mantel of work done by his mother including HIV, leprosy, land mines and work in Botswana. He dated. His reputation was one of a bad boy. Past girlfriends described him as needy. None wanted the burden of attention that media brought to his royalty. He, in turn, could not have them leaning on him either, he wanted that for himself!
Meghan, the actress, was not familiar with being hounded by paparazzi. Prince Harry’s mother, Diana was chased to a tragic death. His challenge was choosing someone with the ‘fortitude’ to deal with his lifestyle. Meghan and Prince Harry wed on May 19, 2018, seen by tens of millions around the world. Recent articles ponder her history of activist to shift into the royal family with their non-political posture. Afro British citizens stand by to judge her actions. Some are inspired. British media, sought to exploit her mixed race as controversial have been put in check by the royal family. Meghan became a British citizen before her nuptials, baptized, before becoming a member of the royal family. The Duchess of Sussex no longer has to mentally debate which box to check in identifying her race. Voted as one of the most influential women in 2018, she is my protagonist!
Art and Article by Lillian L. Thompson for Lillianonline.us