Anyone who knows me really, really well, knows I’ve had a fascination with the British Royal family since childhood. I trace this back to being roused from a deep sleep at 5 in the morning on July 29, 1981. There was a pot of tea and my mother had prepared a cake. My birthday was July 10, so I was completely confused about this early morning celebration.
Turns out, six-year-old me was one of a billion around the world who tuned in to watch what was dubbed the “wedding of the century.” And from then till now, not a single tabloid or entertainment magazine has printed an issue without some news or scandal of the British royals. So yeah, I also woke up at 4 a.m. EST to watch William marry Kate, and again in 2018 to watch Harry marry Meghan. Over the years I have read a lot and watched too many documentaries. Suffice it to say I know a lot about the British Royal Family—probably more than you would imagine a person who isn’t connected with them, would.
Admittedly these days, I’m not as into the exploits of a family that has proven—especially since the Diana years—to be woefully behind the times, lacking in transparency, and whose sole purpose for existence in the 21st century seems to be using their celebrity to further a few worthy causes. Because in case you were not aware, Queen Elizabeth II does not participate in the day-to-day running of her nation. That is left to the Prime Minister, who is currently Boris Johnson.
I wasn’t planning on watching the Oprah interview last Sunday but decided to at the last minute. And some of the things that were revealed were surprising, while others were not. I’m not going to recap the entire discussion but will focus on the one revelation that made Oprah utter a well-articulated, incredulously gasped, “What?!”
I’m speaking of the moment when Meghan, Duchess of Sussex backed up by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, revealed that while pregnant, there were PROMINENT members of the royal family expressing concern over the depth of color little Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor would come out of the womb with.
To the rest of the world, especially in 2021, the news that someone would actually care about this and possibly use this as reason enough for the child, who is the offspring of a prince, to 1. Not receive a hereditary title; 2. Not receive security in a wackadoo world where racists have sadly been allowed to spout off their nonsense and act violently in the name of their idiotic viewpoints; is cause for astonishment.
But here’s where my brown girl experience comes in handy. You see friends, Indian people (and I’m sure those of many other cultural groups) have a real and foolish issue with skin color. Was the fact that a senior member of a white family taking issue with the color of the skin of a child who would be born 75% white and 25% black, racist? Absolutely. It also shows that some members of the Brit royals missed the Biology lesson on basic genetics (Punnet squares, anyone?).
But that same racism also exists within singular ethnic groups, albeit it then becomes referred to as colorism. Many Indian families place among their prerequisites for a suitable spouse, skin color. And the whiter the better. Ideally, if people outside the Indian diaspora have to wonder if a person is truly Indian and has green or blue eyes, you have hit the matrimonial jackpot. If said person is a doctor or engineer, or even a dope but a wealthy dope, you have landed yourself a winner!
I am a brown Indian woman. There is no doubt I’m Indian when you look at me (though I do get the occasional “are you Ethiopian?” question). So, when I was engaged to my Iranian husband, and people who care about this crap viewed his white skin and amber eyes, they suddenly looked at me like I had a solid gold Oscar award attached to my arm. But I digress.
My point is this—whoever asked that asinine question among the Brit royals shouldn’t be allowed to rule upon the death of the Queen, because they have proven to be woefully foolish and unkind. Just in case you were wondering, there are three main suspects now because Harry did clarify that the Queen and her husband, Prince Phillip were not the offenders. That leaves “spineless plant talker” Charles, Prince of Wales; Camilla “rottweiler home wrecker” Duchess of Cornwall, and William “cheated on Kate and was protected and is proving to be a top-rated dork,” Duke of Cambridge. I’m still rooting for you Kate as the one trapped voice of reason in this motley crew of clueless folks. But if I find out it was you… Anyways.
The question of the color of skin is racist, idiotic, and reeks of white supremacy. In case the British royals weren’t aware, that crap will no longer be tolerated as it once was—by people of color and white people alike.
So, where does this Indian obsession with skin color come from? As you might know, India was considered a colonial jewel of the British Empire for a time. In the several hundred years that Brits occupied the subcontinent, and both violated and stole from its people and resources; colorism is a form of supremacy and control that was propagated. And though I can’t in truth report on Indian attitudes toward color before that time, it is no lie that Euro-centric attitudes toward beauty and acceptability have been imbibed by too many Indian people the world over. And you know what? It’s BS. And I’m not saying that because I sport the tone of a Cadbury Milk bar.
So, let’s talk honestly about color. Regardless of your culture, were you ever praised or castigated for your skin color or depth of brownness? What are you doing now to resist that lunacy?
Because that’s where we are in 2021—resist that lunacy.