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The Birth of Baby Sussex Isn't The Promise of a 'New World' Free of Racism

The Birth of Baby Sussex Isn’t The Promise of a ‘New World’ Free of Racism

Baby Sussex is certainly important in terms representation and symbolism, but we have to reckon with the idea that representation alone isn’t anything more than the visibility of a few individuals.

Monday morning, Meghan Markle the Duchess of Sussex, delivered her first child whom they introduced today as Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. Since her engagement to Prince Harry, Markle has been subjected to brutal scrutiny and the white British media’s coverage of the duchess has continued to be unrelentingly racist. It’s not really much of a surprise that the same media outlets are publishing various reductive, low-key (and high-key) racist and fetishizing takes about the Sussex’s newborn child. In matters of race and gender, there are no conversations which can be extricated from the effects of white supremacy and colonialism.

One of the exhausting legacies of discourse about people who are multi/biracial with a white parent, is the idea that miscegenation is a racial band-aid on the festering wound of white supremacy and reduces racism to the beliefs of individual people instead of the reality of it being a structural and systemic form of oppression that harms Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC). It also operates from a place which is dishonest about how aware people—especially white people—are of the functions of white supremacy and how they contribute and benefit from it in both subtle and obvious ways. Speaking from personal experience as someone with a white parent, white folks see their attraction to BIPOC as a form of anti-racism in and of itself, when it is almost always steeped in one form or another of racial fetishism.

Archie is already being lauded as a symbol of progressiveness and racial healing—from Black and white people alike—but let’s make one thing clear: Harry and Meghan’s marriage and child doesn’t change the effects of colonialism, it isn’t a form of reparations—it isn’t anything other than their relationship to each other and that is fine. The idea that multi/biracial children with a white parent are a sign that shit is changing is utterly ridiculous. White slave masters regularly fathered children with enslaved people they sexually assaulted. Their children sometimes had some marginal benefits from being lighter-skinned, but their existence within slavery was never a sign of progressiveness or racial harmony. Even today, multi/biracial children with a white parent aren’t carrying a new legacy leading to the promise of a “new world” of different shades of black, brown and beige—our parentage doesn’t actually stop us or our families from internalizing forms of white supremacy, anti-Blackness and colorism. If anything, the dishonest conversations about race and racism are one of the things many of us carry on our shoulders because most interracial relationships aren’t operating from a place of anti-racism or pro-Blackness.

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In her piece for Wear Your Voice, Lisa Hofmann-Kuroda describes how reducing racial progress to the legalization of interracial marriages (more specifically marriage of white people to POC) is harmful: “legalizing interracial marriage has not substantially lowered social barriers for people of color in the United States. If anything, racial inequality and segregation have substantially worsened simultaneous with the rise of interracial marriage…Ending racism is not just about changing the way that individual people think and feel; it’s about dismantling a police system that uses disproportionate amounts of violence against Black people, abolishing a prison-industrial complex that houses more inmates (primarily Black and Brown people) than any other country in the world, and ending a historical legacy that continues to build its wealth on centuries of stolen land and labor from Black and Indigenous people. Interracial marriage will not on its own solve any of these issues.”

Baby Sussex is certainly important in terms representation and symbolism, but we have to reckon with the idea that representation alone isn’t anything more than the visibility of a few individuals. Much like making primarily white spaces more diverse, it doesn’t mean shit without honest conversations about racism and the dismantling of and divestment from white supremacy. The British Royal family continues to benefit from centuries of white supremacy, colonialism, the theft of lands and resources, slavery, and genocides against BIPOC. The presence of a few biracial people within their ranks—while a thorn in the side of racist courtiers and hemorrhoids to millions who hate Black women in any position of privilege—isn’t anything more than just diversity injected into a space steeped in the blood of millions who were ravaged by British imperialism. Diversity in a space that does nothing to dismantle white supremacy and combat racism simply puts Black, indigenous and people of color in spaces that will ultimately harm them.

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Lara Witt (she/they) is an award-winning feminist writer who primarily writes about feminism, racism, pop-culture, mental health, and politics. Witt received her BA in Journalism from Temple University and interned for Philadelphia CityPaper’s arts and entertainment section and the Philadelphia Daily News covering local news, court stories, and crime. Following her graduation, she became increasingly committed to writing about gender, race, and queer identity by using Black and brown feminist theory to analyze current news and politics. Witt freelanced for national and local publications, which led to her working with Wear Your Voice Magazine eventually becoming their EIC and rebranding the site to focus primarily on using the analytical framework of Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw’s theory of intersectionality. Video Player is loading. Witt’s goal is to provide platforms for marginalized voices with a focus on having other Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) writers tell their own stories and explore their own narratives. Witt has spoken at local Philadelphia events, such as the March to End Rape Culture (2017) and curated a yearly series of events called The Electric Lady Series. These events highlight women of color in Philadelphia by exploring gender, rape culture, entrepreneurship, art, self-care, sex, and culture.

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