That Black Princess : Generations of Change

That Black Princess : Generations of Change

When I was a very little little girl, my mother woke me to watch Princess Diana’s wedding. She was very excited and jabbered incessantly about how regal Diana was and her train, oh god, look at the length of that train! I remember seeing Diana for just a moment ,and then I must have drifted off to sleep. I thought she was lovely and reminiscent of all the princesses I’d seen in books. I remained a fan of Diana’s until her passing, as did my mother, until she also passed.

Years later I would wake my own daughter to watch the wedding of Kate and William, as she was still in her ‘Princess’ phase; which meant she always wanted Tiaras and sparkly fingernail polish. The world was changing and with the historical win of Obama, I wondered if I was doing her damage by showing her the grandiose wedding of a white princess, something she could never be. But, she never seemed to notice any difference between herself and the people on the screen. They were white, she was not. She just saw princess. She saw her storybook princesses come to life, and she had a blast until she, like me when I was her age, fell soundly asleep. I remember laughing softly at my little princess, wearing her plastic tiara and, snoring lightly next to me on the couch. She grew older and out of her Princess phase, only to replace it with Skater chic, classical violinist, and later Karate champion. She is also acutely aware of her skin and what people may think when they see her. She does automatically, what my mother taught me to do, when around non-people of color. She enunciates a little harder, she smiles a lot more (the belief of the Angry Black Woman is a real thing), but her own generational addition is, she’s not afraid at all to go toe to toe with anyone who dares challenge her black-ness and any of the racial groups that make up our current identity. I myself am always outspoken. But sometimes, like more than a few black women my age, you get a little shell shocked with having to explain why certain things are offensive or what they mean or…don’t touch my hair unless I say you can. It’s easier some days to shake your head and think that time honored southern woman phrase ‘bless your heart’ and move along.

My daughter, now 15, gives no fucks about who doesn’t like who she is. She’s kind, but firm. Strong, but knows when to be vulnerable. She does not care for sparkly nail polish anymore. It’s leather pants and combat boots with a Wonder Woman headscarf or a Deadpool T-shirt. She wants to shave her head so she can be a Dora Milaje for Halloween (absolutely NOT!) So I had no expectation she’d want to rise before dawn to watch the 2nd royal wedding to take place in her lifetime. I Face-timed her about 4:55 am and was surprised to see her stumble, sleepily into my bedroom, just a Serena William stepped into view. She watched for a moment, dozing in and out of consciousness until I woke her to come see the young cello-ist play. I had relocated to my office by this time, wanting to let her sleep. She wants a cello and is still deciding what she wants to do after high school ends. Professional musician, composer and actress are high on her list…today.

She sat next to me, when I finally broke and cried. When Harry and Megan left the church, I could clearly hear the cries of some African tribe in the distance, with the lilting tones of ‘ This little Light of Mine’ underscoring them, from the choir. I broke. My great grandfather sang that every Sunday in church, his boots stomping on the floor and punctuating the the quiet of the church until everyone joined in. I only saw him sing/heard this a few times, as he lived in Alabama, and we didn’t. But his voice, hauntingly beautiful, sounded simultaneously filled with hope and despair. He was born in a time when white and black people co-mingling in any way, could get them both killed. More notably the black person killed. I wondered what he’d think about this wedding. I already know how my grandmother feels, she’s on board. And I overheard another older black woman this week say, ‘This is is monumental. A black woman, marries a Prince, from the country that brought us here and enslaved us. It’s a momentary peace. It’s fate saying, this is what should be.’ I heard her in my head this morning. I hear Dr Kings words of unity and his vision of what was to come. Yes we’ve had a black president. But black women, never really get to be Princesses. We are not normally revered as precious, beautiful, special. We are viewed as angry, ugly, harsh and too loud. So to see Megan break these stereotypes and then bring her Black American roots with her, to England, made me feel so proud. Megan apparently gives no fucks either. She is who she is and makes no apologies. I love her a little bit for that. No this wedding will not end racism, just as Obama’s presidency didn’t. But it tells the world, black women can be soft and beautiful and precious. Not to mention, we really give no fucks. It is a step in the right direction.

Once they began the replay of the wedding coverage (we missed the beginning…not getting up that early when we don’t have to actually attend a wedding) she popped in and out of my office, watching commentary and making breakfast. English muffins, eggs and English tea. Our hosts for the event on BBC American, seem to ask every person of color how they feel about Megan and her bi-racial background and if he will change things. Each one, some American and some British, answer with all the grace and humility one can muster. My daughter laughs, because the answer is the same every time. One woman, British Baroness Lawrence, and a woman of color, makes a point to add, ‘It’s not about race, it’s time to start moving pass this’. She reminds me of one of my great aunts. The hosts very quickly change the subject and my daughter says to me, ‘I don’t understand racism. I feel about it the way the Dora Milaje feel about guns. Primative.’ I agree.

I hope that when it’s time for the next royal wedding, it very much IS primitive. Maybe one of the little royal ones will marry an Asian, Indian or Hispanic person or a person of the same sex. And other than the celebration being huge, it shouldn’t change a thing. All of this talk of differences would be primitive and therefore no big deal. I plan to be sitting next to my daughter and her daughter..remembering how far we’d come, while still having so far to go….And sipping my tea…pinky up.

Congrats to the Happy Couple! I really came for the fashion, but to see the love between you two, was an added bonus!


*Article published on*

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

Featured collection