Meghan Markle and Oprah Winfrey
Meghan Markle and Oprah Winfrey (Photo: Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese via Getty Images)

On Sunday, March 7, Meghan Markle and her husband Prince Harry sat down with Oprah Winfrey on CBS’ most live-streamed event outside of the NFL and Super Bowl Sunday and largest primetime audience for an entertainment special since the Academy Awards last February. And listen, nothing was off-limits (save for who was concerned about how dark Archie could be), as they shared really intimate details about their time within the royal family. It was hard to listen to Markle detail the attacks on her character that made her want to end her life and the lack of support from her in-laws. While Harry hinted that his wife’s treatment had “colonialist undertones,” Black women around the globe watched with a certain sense of knowing. In the hours following Markle’s interview we’ve seen a rush to discredit her claims. A lot of people have been quick to weigh in, often chiming in over the voices of those who have lived experiences similar to Markle. No, we aren’t all coming from the same place of privilege, but Black women know what it feels like to be deemed too-much of anything in a world where they were meant to be nothing. Below nine women process their thoughts for GRAZIA

Listen To Black Women. Period. 

“It always surprises me how people will still find a way to remove Black women even out of a Black narrative. As I watched Meghan Markle share her experience with the world, there were so many parts of me that were ignited within me as a Black woman. Going to HR and having nothing done? Check. Having a narrative flipped to make you the aggressor? Yep. Telling people that you are caving under life’s pressures and you need help, only to not be supported? Oh, definitely. Meanwhile, the bigger messages of race and performance went over so many people’s heads. While I and so many Black peers shared our horror stories or how we could relate to Meghan’s perspective, I saw similar tweets from people who thought the best of the interview was Meghan’s eyeliner choice or that freckles are officially back. The day after, Slack channels were bombarded with notes on how ‘tea’ was dropped in that interview, but tea for who? What changes for the Black experience now that the world sees, even as royalty, you are Black first before you are a princess? That a Black child is doubted long before they speak their first words, and a Black mother, no matter how fair-skinned she is, will be villainized? The real tea is that so many ‘progressive’ people have nothing to add to the racially-driven institutions that seek to destroy our voice. And yet, somehow, this story riddled in race has been washed down to be palatable for those who believe waving a flag or posting a black square was enough. If you watched that interview and you’re not having real conversations with your community on how the world attacks Black women, then what are you really talking about?” Jamé Jackson, fashion and beauty content creator.

It Was A Reminder To Put Yourself First 

“Taking care of ourselves is one of the most important things we can do in life. It was good to see Meghan speak up about mental health and doing what was best for herself and her family,” Regine Gilbert, author and professor. 

Who Has The Right To Control Their Narrative?

“I hope [the interview] will start numerous conversations around racism and representation. When she married Prince Harry, a lot of people and numerous Black women hoped for change, someone seemed to have made her way to royalty. But Bridgerton is a TV show. A lot of people would love for the conversation to be ‘is Meghan Markle a good person?’ but we’re so past that. It’s more about who has the right to be framed as good or evil. Who had the right to exercise power and criticism? I also hope this will not crush Black women. Because, if a light skin woman, fitting within European physical norm, is treated this way: what hope is there for us?” Mélody Thomas, journalist at French Marie Claire.

What Does ‘Home’ Look Like For Black Women?

“I was really looking forward to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s sit-down interview with Oprah. I anticipated that it would be emotional, authentic, and really handled with care and it was and I think to some degree that was because of an intergenerational relationship between Black women that is both endearing yet empowering. What Megan shared is that no matter how high you get in political or socioeconomic status, you’re still a Black woman whose emotional and mental health will be seen as invalid to some who don’t value your existence and what she shared, on the largest platform that she could, was that our voices, no matter how hard the attempts, will not be silenced. 

Another part that struck me as particularly poignant is that Meghan felt like she was a prisoner in her home after marrying into the royal family and it almost cost her her life. After being confined to our homes in the middle of the pandemic for nearly a year, I’ve thought a lot about the idea of ‘home’ and what it means while still trying to emotionally reconcile that Breonna Taylor lost her life in her own home and those who killed her not being held accountable. There are lengths that Black women go through to create comfort in the place where they lay their heads and yet, there is still a real struggle for a home to be the safest safe for Black women to just exist and have freedom — not necessarily freedom of location but of mental and spiritual clarity. 

All in all, I think that the interview painted a beautiful picture of the lengths that mothers will go to in order to protect their children. Prince Harry’s revelation that he was cut off financially from The Royal Family in Q1 of 2020 meant he had to figure out how to keep his family safe and that was done with assistance from what his mother left him. It was clear that the relationship between Diana and Meghan is to do whatever it takes to make sure that your children are well taken care of. I think that Meghan and Harry both did a brilliant and beautiful job of supporting each other during what I know was no small emotional feat — to have to endure all that they did together in real-time and then recount it again during the interview — all to ensure that the legacy that they have created for their children is one that is defined by themselves,” Lauren Porter, writer and personality. 

Grace Under Pressure  

“After all that Meghan endured and experienced, she spoke to the institution with such regard and deference. From a human perspective, it was inspiring to witness her prevail in the face of great challenges, but it was also incredibly jarring. To me, her relationship is emblematic of the dichotomy between Black women’s relational patterns and systems that oppress us,” Ebony Wiggins, social impact consultant within the fashion industry. 

Be Exceptional But Not Too Exceptional 

“The Meghan Markle interview resonated with me and so many other Black women because it is all of our story.  We are often made to feel like we are too much for simply existing. There was a moment in the interview where Meghan said that she was told that she was everywhere but she had not left the house in three months. Oprah also stated on CBS this morning that Meghan has been advised to be 50% less. There was a constant push for Meghan to dim herself as to not outshine other people. As a Black woman that works in digital media I have been told by my boss that the way I do my job seemingly with little effort made me threatening to others. I have also been advised on ways that I can behave differently to make others more comfortable. I have realized being smaller never actually works. Even at your smallest flicker your light still shines brighter than those who feel threatened by your existence,” Ariel Burke, social media manager.

Misogynoir Is Everywhere

“Having seen the interview, I came away feeling deeply unsettled. For many Black women, Meghan’s experience is so triggering because it’s not an isolated issue. Archaic tropes and micro-aggressions such as the ‘angry Black women,’ ‘the aggressor,’ and the ‘bully’ are so deeply embedded within our day-to-day interactions that it feels so very familiar,” Eni Subair, Vogue Global Network journalist.

Meghan Markle Relived Painful Memories At What Cost?

“At first, I was here for the ‘tea’ that was coming. But the more and more I watched, I couldn’t get past Meghan’s ‘I don’t know’ answers and responses. Why not call this institution for what it is? It’s racism. They are racists. You got treated differently because you are Black. The treatment was unfair, but how could you not expect that from this family? I hate that she went through such a painful experience, I’m not taking away from that. But how could expect anything else from a family who has oppressed the rest of the world? And how did you think that they cared anything about representation when they have profited off of the blood of all people of color. 

I also don’t like the idea of Black people, and Black women especially, being the driver of these massive ratings for that interview while being triggered. What are we left with? After Meghan has this interview and we’re triggered, what are we honestly left with? It felt like just an empty show that was able to profit off of our wounds and was more about Meghan and what she should’ve been able to do as opposed to the deeper issues at hand that are at play. There’s nothing revolutionary about that and what I hate is that the hype around it positions her as an advocate for US when she is not,” Melissa Kimble, Writer, Cultural Strategist, and founder of #blkcreatives.

… But We’re All Doing Our Best 

“This interview was a lot. It was heavy. Thick. And gut-wrenching. As a Black woman, the microaggressions she painfully described echo through so many of our own lived experiences. And for it to happen at the highest of places, is not shocking but nonetheless devastating. The mental health toll, the physical health toll, Meghan’s experiences were a visual and visceral reminder to me and others, the social weights of being a black woman trying to live her best life,” Marie Denee, Founder and EIC at TheCurvyFashionista.

thoughts?