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Thomas Markle exhibited what can only be described as manipulation and emotional abuse under the guise of concern and love.

This op-ed includes mentions of emotional abuse I haven’t spoken to my father in over two years. I sent him one last email detailing why I no longer wanted to be in contact with him, I explained how his decisions and emotional abuse harmed me and told him that I wanted to prioritize my mental health so that I could move forward with my life. It was the best decision I have ever made, and not a single day goes by that I regret what I did. That’s why I was infuriated when I saw Meghan Markle’s father, Thomas Markle, being interviewed by none other than Piers Morgan, a notorious anti-feminist (or men’s rights activist, whatever the fuck that means) and media figure who has obsessively and publicly harassed Meghan since her introduction to the British public. In his interview with Morgan, Thomas Markle exhibited what can only be described as manipulation and emotional abuse under the guise of concern and love. Following his multiple publicity stunts leading up to Meghan’s wedding to Prince Harry, he claims that his daughter cut off all contact with him despite his numerous apologies. His continuous need to center himself and his emotional needs over Meghan’s autonomy and the boundaries she most likely created for her own mental health shows a clear disregard for his daughter’s wellbeing. While it would be easy to disregard this latest display of abuse as an impassioned cry for family unity and love, that superficial and non-contextual conclusion deliberately ignores the fact that Mr. Markle chose to be interviewed by Morgan, a man who has been using every ounce of his whiteness and maleness to act like an abusive ex-boyfriend. A documented transphobic, sexist and racist overpaid bag of termites, Morgan has repeatedly used Meghan Markle to draw attention to himself in the worst ways possible. From questioning her agency and ability to make her own decisions, accusing her of being “fake” and a “social climber”, to alleging that she “ghosted him”, Morgan has shown how toxic whiteness and masculinity is performed without repercussions. It comes as no surprise that Morgan would interview Thomas Markle and amplify his abuse on national British television. It also comes as no surprise that the British press would continue to publicly uplift the opinions of people who have directed their racist and sexist criticisms towards Meghan Markle. https://twitter.com/girlsreallyrule/status/1074666171310460929 After months of racial abuse, including claims that she is breaking musty-ass royal protocols, the optics of two white men on TV badgering Meghan is a stark reminder that women of color in particular will have their agency and boundaries challenged, even by their own fathers. Mr. Markle, who can only be well aware of his daughter’s feminist politics, chose to speak to the man who is the polar opposite of what Meghan stands for and I do not think that his choice was accidental. Both are using their positions in society as white men to earn public sympathy while demonizing a biracial Black woman. And since society grants humanity primarily to white, cisgender men and women, it comes as no surprise that this display of manipulation and publicity garnered sympathy from the public. Thomas Markle’s decision to appear on Morgan’s morning show also amplifies Morgan’s obsession with Markle and the allegations that she ghosted him. These allegations are now being reinforced by her father’s own claims of “ghosting” as a pattern she has engaged in rather than her right to not bestow attention on an abusive parent. While it’s impressive that two old, white men learned about the term ghosting, they have both chosen to ignore that Meghan’s decisions for her mental health and happiness have a right to stand unchallenged. Family unity, unconditional love and family-first rhetoric consistently pushes away the experiences of those who were emotionally or physically abused by their parents or other family members. While Meghan Markle’s relationship to her father is her own, it’s worth parsing through the idea that being a blood relative or a parent does not mean that you are owed a relationship to someone. Family dynamics vary, but they also have similar threads running throughout them. So many of our relationships, familial ones included, emphasize the need for unconditional love and forgiveness which mostly reinforces patriarchal, cisheteronormative oppressions. Unconditional love often acts as an integral part of maintaining harmful social structures within family relationships. No love should be unconditional when it covers up the abuse of vulnerable people who suffer for decades without ever being able to cut off abusive family members. Love shouldn’t be unconditional because it perpetuates the idea that all behaviors and actions are worthy of forgiveness no matter how much harm they inflict upon us. Cutting off toxic family members isn’t a decision that is easy, nor is it made lightly. It’s often a decision that is made after years of undergoing consistent manipulation and harm. It is an informed, healthy and brave decision which requires a lot of strength.
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When I found myself as the victim within an abusive relationship, one that was marred by queerness, blackness, and a profoundly turbulent love resonating between the two of us, I was stunned into submission.

[TW/CW: descriptions of emotional abuse and physical violence.] Last month while sitting in a smoke lounge on the westside of Atlanta, a friend leaned over to speak directly into my left ear, trying to whisper under the music. “Speak in my other ear, I’m partially deaf in that ear,” I said, as I have to often. “Wait, really? I didn’t know that.” She responded. “Why are you deaf in that ear?” Such a simple question leads me to the painfully uncomfortable conversation, by which I spend several minutes thinking to myself how to tell her, or even if I should tell her, that I am deaf because I used to date a super villain. And he beat the shit out of me. The first time it happened, he left my right cheek with a red tint over brown skin; an awkward silence dwelt within our kitchen in that moment. He no longer looked quite like an honest man, especially the man I’d fallen in love with, rather he resembled one of the grotesque villains I’d watch my favorite cartoon characters fight when I was a child, The Joker maybe. “Why did you embarrass me in front of my friends?” he would say, then a push, one strong enough to knock me off my balance and onto my knees. “I didn’t mean to,” I’d reply, not even remembering what I did wrong in the first place. I would say whatever to make the moments when the super villain was in my kitchen stop, or at least slow down. I thought I was seeing past it, always telling myself it was my fault, blaming myself for the speed and the force with which I was hit. The thoughts that raced through my mind this time were fleeting embarrassments and angering confusions that left our kitchen in an awkward silence for a moment: this wasn’t normal, this doesn’t happen to our kind; these types of violences are surely rare for us, and I’m now feeling as if I am a part of an anomaly within a sea of already demonized love. Here I was months deep into a love which was once all power and puff, now saying and doing whatever I could to defuse a situation I thought I was to blame for. When I found myself as the victim within an abusive relationship, one that was marred by queerness, blackness, and a profoundly turbulent love resonating between the two of us, I was stunned into submission. The person whom I was giving so much to, and borrowing so much from, became the very person who made a mess of me; the one who swore he wanted to build a nest up high with me began clipping my wings.
Related: WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT ABUSE IN QUEER RELATIONSHIPS

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