I’ll be honest. I didn’t know much about Meghan Markle before yesterday.
But naturally, I got giddy with excitement — in a similar fashion to the women on my timeline — when I found out Prince Harry put a ring on it. A woman of color with an impeccable blowout and white coat is marrying into the royal family.
What can’t black women do?
As a society, we’ve rightfully moved beyond wanting to showcase fairy-tale endings. Who, when and if we marry is no longer at the top of our priority lists. We want our girls to know they have so much more to accomplish.
But it’s still inspiring to see love happen for Markle, a successful American actress and humanitarian who identifies as biracial. Her mother is African American, and her father is white. (I — and some of Black Twitter — still see her as black.)
We need more women who look like us to succeed on the world stage. Yes, we have Venus and Serena Williams on the tennis court, Beyoncé on stage and Ava DuVernay behind the camera. But we’re still being put on “the first black woman to … ” superlative lists. We need our girls to see that it’s possible to be anything — including a princess.
Markle’s engagement means that for the second time in recent history, we have a black woman filling a role seen by everyone, everywhere.
Eight years ago in the United States, we elected the first black president, ushering us into a new era. A black family finally occupied the White House. Michelle Obama became a role model for women and girls around the world, championing our rights to education and showcasing her commitment to the health of our nation. Prior to Michelle Obama, we had never seen a black woman assume the role of FLOTUS. And judging by the outcome of the 2016 election, it may be another century until we see the likes of Michelle Obama in office.
Michelle and Barack Obama also represent something we love seeing: a black power couple. Give us more Jada and Wills, more Beyoncé and Jay-Zs. Their relationships aren’t perfect, but we root for them regardless.
(Markle’s relationship with Prince Harry is a bit more complicated. We’re okay with black women who enter interracial unions, but criticize black men for marrying white or non-black women. That’s a different take for another day.)
As a proud mom to two girls, it’s impressive that my oldest daughter’s first family was black. Now, she’ll grow up with a black princess — or duchess — too. Imagine if all the grown black women today had witnessed that as children.
As a kid, I would leaf through my great-grandmother’s gossipy weeklies to learn more about Princess Diana’s rise to royalty and untimely death. Tabloids may be long gone by the time my daughters are in school, but stories about the royals — which will include Markle come May — will still be there.
My daughter watches “Doc McStuffins” and tells me that she wants to be a doctor when she grows up. It’s a Disney show showcasing a black girl. She doesn’t see many on TV, so she adores her, pointing out that the Doc McStuffins dolls we have scattered around the house look like her.
I share the same excitement my daughter has for her favorite TV character every time I see black people succeed. When “Moonlight” wins best film, when Issa Rae creates “Insecure,” and yes, when a black woman gets engaged to a prince. These “firsts” come along so rarely that we savor every moment.