Last week, Buzzfeed posted an article about whether or not royal reporters in Britain have been racist in their coverage of Meghan Markle. Since it was revealed that she and Prince Harry have been together, the UK tabloids have published one gross headline after another, consistently reminding their readers that Meghan is “straight outta Compton” and is descended from slaves.
Is it a smear campaign?
Here’s the cover of day’s Sun:
One of Meghan’s old friends has evidently sold her out as The Sun claims to have emails that she sent to people about her first wedding to Trevor Engelson. Something something about how guests smoked weed from party favour bags in Jamaica, a “druggy stunt” that Meghan should now be ashamed of. First of all…
Who says “druggy stunt”? Like does anyone actually use this expression? Is this even a real expression?
“Druggy stunt” is an overdramatisation of something that millions of people – and many of you reading – have experienced. You go to party. You share a joint. It’s not a character flaw, nor should it be. Which most people of a certain generation, with a certain perspective, would agree with. But that’s not the target audience. This is tapping into racial stereotypes, the assumptions people have about those from Meghan’s background, a direct link to the “straight outta Compton” headlines, dog-whistling to the pearl-clutchy old-timers, some of whom work deep inside the palaces, of the threat that’s corrupting their most venerable institution.
So, again, is it a smear campaign?
Have you read Michelle Obama’s Becoming yet? Probably some of you got it for Christmas and have just started. As Duana and I discussed on the most recent episode of Show Your Work, for us, our biggest takeaways came in the first half, before the White House. I particularly enjoyed the matter-of-fact way she writes about things that some people in her position might stress about. Like when she’s talking about her first serious boyfriend, David, and what they used to do together:
“We went on real dates, going for what we considered upscale dinners at Red Lobster and to the movies. We fooled around and smoked pot in his car.”
When asked by Robin Roberts during an interview with ABC why she chose not to leave those parts out, Mrs Obama answered, “Why would I hide that from the next generation?”
That’s the key here, “the next generation”. The next generation isn’t going to give a sh-t about Meghan smoking some weed back in the day. It’s the generation that the royals will need onside if they’re to endure. Meghan Markle is a big part of that plan. She appeals to that generation and, clearly, not to the one that’s desperately trying to stay relevant and, in some cases, alive. New year, new royal. Literally. A new royal baby is coming. Those pearl-clutchers don’t have a card to play against a baby.