Meghan Markle’s story makes me think of the black British women in the UK who are experiencing racism, suffering with mental health issues, unable to access help and feeling suicidal, without a prince (or Tyler Perry!) to protect them, or a home country to return to.
I didn’t watch the Oprah interview. I remembered the thoughts and feelings that were stirred up when Meghan and Harry’s decision to leave the UK first blew up in the media, so I opted out. The fact that I was out of region to watch the broadcast in the US and the UK, was a clear sign that my mental health was more important.
However, you’d have to live under a rock not to see or hear about it on the web. The only thing that surprised me was the reaction to the interview – why were people so shocked? And are we really negating the experience and mental health struggle of another person … in 2021?
I’m sorry that Meghan had to endure what she did
No one should get to the point where they feel suicidal, especially during pregnancy. I’m glad she found the strength, courage and support to get up and leave. Rather than questioning her authenticity, maybe it’s time to understand that the smiles and ability to function in everyday life do not always reflect what’s going on behind the scenes – even if you are a royal.
Unfortunately her experience is an embedded way of life for many black British women in the UK
And that’s what saddened me the most – that the experience of racism she described, is not foreign to the many who have learned to live with it in the UK and manage the mental health struggles that come with it too. Meghan’s story provides only a glimpse into the reality that many live every single day.
While there were people watching that interview who were shocked, for the black British woman, she probably wasn’t. Receiving a comment from a white person about the potential skin colour of your child? Yes, my friends, welcome to our world – this is the UK!
For the unseen, unheard black British woman, she navigates these comments (and worse!) on a daily basis. She knows the institutional structures and isolation in these structures that make it unwise to speak out or challenge. She gathers strength and increases resilience to get on with her day because unlike Meghan, she has no alternative and is often left unprotected and vulnerable.
I ask myself if my recovery from binge eating disorder was helped by leaving the UK
I felt lighter as soon as my flight from London Heathrow left the ground. I felt like I could breathe again. I was in quarantine for 15 days when I arrived here in the Cayman Islands and three days in, my binges stopped – I haven’t binged since then. I ask myself how much of my bingeing was related to my need to cope with being in this skin and living in the UK?
Breaking News: Racism is a real mental burden that black people face in the UK
Americans have often said to me: “I didn’t know there were black people in England”. A telling statement about how unseen our black British existence and our experience of racism is on the global scene. I don’t expect this interview to make any huge changes to that – news stories come and they go – but for me, it confirms the importance of continuing to advocate for mental health in the black British community.
Takeaway: I exist even when others don’t see me. My experience is valid and my voice is important, for me and for those who can’t speak up.