The Royal Wedding: A Reminder that Representation Matters

My kids don’t let me sleep in on Saturday mornings. They usually burst into my room a little before 7 a.m, asking me what’s for breakfast or wanting to jump into bed. This morning, I didn’t mind getting up early because I wanted to catch a bit of the Royal Wedding.

I know very little about the Royal Family, but I will admit that my interest picked up last year when Prince Harry’s engagement to American actress Meghan Markle was announced in November.

Black twitter erupted in enthusiam over the announcement. A biracial, once married actress would be married into the Royal Family. Whoa.

So I tuned in to the wedding, coffee in hand, not sure what to expect. I hadn’t seen Prince William and Kate’s ceremony, so I had nothing to compare it to. But ohmygosh, what a beautiful ceremony.

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What a deliberate, intentional choice to include and uplift blackness. 

I watched with my daughter as Prince Harry and Meghan received a word from Bishop Michael Curry. And it was a word. He spoke about love and its potential to revolutionize families, and workplaces, and countries.

Curry’s charisma seemed to make some of the attendants squirm. Possibly because his sermon was almost 13 minutes long. But it was beautiful. A black American preacher from Chicago delivered a sermon that included references to Martin Luther King Jr., slavery, and above all else the transformational power of love.

The service continued with a black choir that sang “Stand by Me”, a black chaplain, and Sheku Kanneh-Mason, 19 year old black cello player.

The Royal Wedding could have stuck to tradition, but it didn’t, which was meaningful for so many reasons. With millions watching around the world, blackness was on display. Oprah, Serena Williams, and Gina Torres were just a few of the black women in attendance. And then there was Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, rocking her natural hair.

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As I watched, I thought about how historic this moment was. I grew up in a white home and in a white community, and I sometimes lacked healthy representations of black women in the media. As a teen, many of the black women I saw on television were in music videos. I didn’t see girls or women like me doing regular things.

But children of color need to see people who look like them in the media in a variety of roles. 

We need to see not just the professional athletes and entertainers, but the teachers, the lawyers, and the writers. We need the heroes and the villains and everything in between. 

We need Meghan Markle, a biracial girl who grew up in California, now a member of the Royal Family.

A few years ago, I wrote about the importance of seeing myself in a book. I remember my mom reading the book to my sister and me and tracing the beautiful images on the pages.

I have a copy of Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters, and it remains one of my favorite books today. The book gave me images of black people that I treasured, just like The Royal Wedding did for so many watching around the world.

 


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