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Tea, All Shades
The Harry and Meghan interview was a spigot of juice, but the parts left unsaid still require discussion-just between them.
"A true relationship is two unperfect people refusing to give up on each other." - Unknown
One of the first concerns I struggled with before latching myself to my husband until death was if he would ever notice "the look" before I did. He's White, and as you may have heard, I'm Black. It hasn't happened that often, and my 70-year-old Father, who also moonlights as my cultural attache, says it occurs less than even he thought it would because "every commercial on TV has a Black wife, white husband these days, it's mainstream!" It's the least of our worries, interracial or otherwise. We are both imperfect. The psychological gems that surfaced since we started our cohabitation five years ago in preparation to take our vows are seismic, sometimes shiny, sometimes dark. The first thing that gave me pause however was innocent: learning he didn't moisturize or use a washcloth.
When I still overdid the wifey bit, I'd set out a fresh washcloth and an assortment of lotions on the vanity in my apartment where he would spend most nights away from his apartment a county away. Bless his heart. He's from the South, so I expected him to be relatively well acquainted with their existence. But it remained untouched—every time. I've purchased nearly 20 since we moved into our home; 8 for guests, 6 in black for makeup removal, and the rest in whatever color (currently: emerald) is our restroom's theme.
Washcloths aren't just bath staples; they're a way of life, especially in Black households. I have 2 in my shower and one on my sink at all times. Sometimes worn down to the thread because that one is a favorite. And sometimes you take the one meant for the guests and get yelled at by your Grandmother. Either way, you use it on your person, your body. Allan isn't familiar. There are many things that have been revealed in the marriage that surprise and horrify us.
Do you know what’s horrific and not surprising? The questioning of Archie’s skin color by Harry’s family. Have we discussed the potential color of our unborn, not even conceived child? Yes. In the same context that "allegedly" CharlesCamillaPhillipWilliamKate may have about Archie Mountbatten? No. Allan hopes they're taller than him. I hope they're happy forever. Did I make someone cry during our wedding and the wedding preparations? Just one? Ok, sure but less than a handful. Have I had to educate him on microaggressions and how he wields his privilege? Definitely. Has he had to remind me to let him lead. Every damn day. When we reach loggerheads, about very serious stuff, I remind him, "You know who you married." A broad who doesn’t have the luxury to be so dismissive and laissez-faire. Whether I’m right at the moment or not, I feel as if I have the upper hand. My trauma trumps yours and because of that I may bend but I won’t break. I dont know that it’s always OK to take this stance but I was raised to be strong and independent. This is still perplexing to my very dominant jock husband. Did the fact I flirted with you in ALL CAPS when we were dating not tip you off, hun?
There's a moment where lust crosses into devotion and then into unconditional; somewhere in that Venn diagram of love, you have to make a moat around your heart just in case. As a woman on the other side of 35, I knew that we were moving at an accelerated pace deciding within days of rekindling our relationship after a 2-year gap of lust to get married. But I was tired of playing the game, and with this one in particular. If he wanted back in, he had to put a ring on it. Like most marriages, our relationship began like a cliche.
We had a meet-cute, then it was unrequited, then it was star crossed, and then it was magic, and now it's just marriage. And marriage is hard. At some point, it's just a repeat of "The Good Fight," a defining episode of Sex and The City in the on-again pairing of Aidan and Carrie. You know the one, he moves into her studio apartment to build out the apartment next door he has purchased for their future. He wants her to slow down, spend the night being his aforementioned "booth bitch" and she wants to spend the night out on the town, not eating a bucket of KFC. We are like any couple, high highs, low lows. Love is love is love.
My life is nothing like Meghan's. I'm not safely ensconced in a villa above the sea in Ventura County, a stone's throw from Oprah, Katy, and Ellen. And I didn't marry a Prince. But where we align is that I, too, have a peek into something most POCs married to white folk struggle with, and that's the imbalance in the scales tipped in favor of our betrothed, a privilege that will never extend to us. You have to decide quite often if that's a deal or no deal.
There’s no good answer. Was Meghan naive to fall head over heels with a Royal who has more than a share of family drama--on top of the prejudice? Love is love is love. I believe that she endured a helluva time trying to make friends with The Firm, but I don't believe she didn't Google Harry or was not even a little bit aware of what was possible. I have been this bright-eyed before particularly in my career, where I have walked in blind only to be blindsided. If she didn’t Google, she Bing’d him. I Googled Allan so much--to very little avail of detail; he's only had social media since we met--that when we got married, the SEO surfaced his first wedding announcement. We did not get a wedding announcement in the local North Carolina paper but I’m sure the entire town knew. We did not have a big church wedding of 300 that his entire high school football teammates RSVP'd Fuckin' A to. We were not gifted hideous Williams-Sonoma dinnerware set for 8 with flounder drawn on them. What we did do was marry in Ojai, amongst a small group of 100 under the blazing sun in a garden where I stood barefoot, and he stood sobbing while we declared our undying love for one another. It was the first time my Father saw me kiss anyone; it was the first time Allan's parents realized he’s really in love with a Black woman. Revelations not apparent that day we are working through now. We’re also learning how much we have to unlearn about ourselves and one another.
There was nothing Meghan could do right entering this union. It didn't matter that she'd carved out a perfectly quaint lifestyle up in Canada. The perfect blog, the perfect friends, the perfect look. She didn't ruffle feathers and could have been on her way to a respectable career as an actress. But she chose love and maybe didn't realize all that she'd leave in its wake to secure it. For the royals and the part of the world that supports the waste of air and sound that Piers Morgan expels, she is somehow owed their anti-Blackness by virtue of working to dismantle it, for herself and others. Yes, I don't believe Meghan has truly endured the racially charged existence of being a Black woman in the world, much less America, I dont think she was prepared for what happens when you marry not only into a monarchy but the supremacy. And not just the flimsy Hollywood version of it in her first marriage. When you experience an unfortunate rite of passage in this skin, like being criticized publicly by a media machine such as the British press, it's not only a shock to the system; it claws at your psyche, disrupting synapses. I recognized Meghan sitting there in whoever's garden across from THEE Oprah that she is still struggling. She has not bounced back. She has not reached clarity. Harry thinks he knows about implicit bias because he's "lived in his wife's shoes."
"Unconscious bias... having the upbringing and the education that I had, I had no idea what it was. I had no idea it existed. And then, sad as it is to say, it took me many, many years to realize it, especially then living a day or a week in my wife's shoes." - Prince Harry to Huffington Post Canada
He will never live in Meghan's shoes. My husband can never live in mine. I've never asked him to, but simple awareness is a start. I will always call it out, I expect him to do the same but there is still work to align what may be an obliviousness to him can be microaggressive to me. It's a discussion that never ends. Racial identity was discussed candidly in the Harry and Meghan chat, yet there is still so much Harry has to learn about what it is to be Black in America. What he learned behind the golden gates of the Palace won't change, despite a lengthy stay at Tyler Perry's Home For Rejected Majesties, what the watershed of hatred thrown at Meghan will do to her long term. No amount of money and fame can protect her, no matter what O.J. says.
I can't imagine she's recovered from the interview, no matter how much goodwill and fodder it has generated. It's cast a wider net for discussion about HER identity, the child's identity, and open-ended questions about the why of their relationship, things they are still wrestling with. It would be too simple if it were just they really liked each other, and it was a perfect match. Something afforded so many. But the way people pry at their relationship like a curiosity at a carnival will continue to bother me. The British Royal Family's narrative is heavily documented, revered, and criticized, and how they've navigated this has been poor form. The year is 2021. Maybe it's not Johnny Mnemonic's version of 2021, but we've learned 80% of the things we needed to do outside to eventually be inside are completely unnecessary, and that is growth. The world has changed, and your grandson is a 1/4 Black. You will deal.
If I were Meghan's friend, I'd say this with my all of 3 years of marriage to guide her:
He will disappoint you. He is trying like hell to please you. He will not always get it right. You will question it all. You are stronger than you even know and have every right to speak your truth. There is more truth to be mined. He comes from a world where love is hard-won and the person who loved him most is gone. You come from a world where one parent would lay her life on a train track for you and the other would be a conductor on the express line to get you under it. That’s gotta be confusing as hell. There will be long, sometimes painful talks. It will lead to understanding and fractures. Be patient with each other, be there for each other and take comfort in knowing that your experience educates others about their own knowledge of implicit bias and journey towards self-discovery. I would also add: please explain the chicken coop.
Interracial relationships aren't courses in AP Marriage. We require the simple math as with any pairing: trust + honor + patience.