THE ROYAL WEDDING... AND BLACK EXCELLENCE!
Can we talk about all the black excellence displayed at the Royal Wedding 2018!? 😍
For those of you that have been living under a rock, Prince Harry, who is a member of the British monarchy, married American 'Suits' actress Meghan Markle this past weekend.
I will hold my hands up and confess that I was one of the people (read: haters) that showed disdain towards the wedding. Partly because I honestly couldn’t care less and partly because royal events cost British tax payers millions of pounds while the NHS (National Health Service for all my non-British folks) is currently dealing with huge budget cuts and the victims of Grenfell Tower are still homeless almost a year later. 😒
So there I was, minding my damn business, when a picture of David Beckham graced my Twitter timeline (follow @notrude_honest 😉). Guys, my heart stopped! He looked edible! Anyone that knows me knows that I have had a huge crush on Mr. Beckham since I was 8 years old when he was rocking a bowl cut with curtains. In fact, I only rescinded my role as his bride-in-waiting when he married Victoria Beckham who I’m also a huge fan of #SpiceGirlForever.
The beauty that was David Beckham made me tune in to the wedding just to see the fashions but I somehow, I got wrapped into the whole event and boy am I glad I did! My fellow British know how dreary and boring royal events usually are which is why, when Bishop Michael Curry began his sermon and did so in a very ‘African American preacher’ kind of way, we were all amazed at the sudden turn of events!
He proceeded to address slavery and quote Martin Luther kind in his sermon and black people everywhere were screaming “Yaaassss!”. Bishop Michael Curry took us to church hunny!
We barely had time to recover when the beauty that is Karen Gibson & The Kingdom Choir graced our screens. Guys, my heart was so full I shed a tear!
As black women we are often told that our voices are too loud, our bodies are too curvy, our mannerisms are too aggressive; these critisicms extend to our hair which is often described as "too nappy" or "unpresentable and unprofessional". For years a large majority of black women would risk chemical burns to perm their hair in order to have a straighter, slicker hairstyle that would make their hair more palatable to society. On the glorious occasion that was Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Royal wedding on the 19th of May 2018, Karen Gibson and the women of The Kingdom Choir graced our screens with a diverse range of black hairstyles which were not only presentable but beautiful!
There was a silent defiance in the way in which they stood and sang "Stand By Me" by Ben E. King (a song that was made popular through its use as a rallying cry during the civil rights movement in the United States) sporting afros, twa’s, dreadlocks, sisterlocks, box braids, twists, cornrows/canerows, crochet braids, weaves and other forms of extensions. Everything about their hair was proudly black and they displayed it in what is usually the whitest event on British television, in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II!
In seeing them I thought of all the black women who are constantly bombarded by hair questions from their white coworkers; I thought of Zulaikha Patel who was expelled from school because her hair was not deemed presentable despite living in an African country; I thought of the women who have had to cut of their dreadlocks because they were deemed dirty by the corporate, medical and military world, I thought of how far we’ve come as a people to a point in which the hairstyles of the women in the The Kingdom Choir could not be banned at the royal wedding out of fear of the public backlash from being racist and I was completely overwhelmed. #BlackGirlMagic
Many of you will see this as ‘just hair’ but my fellow black women and those who have used ‘just hair’ to oppress black people know exactly how monumental those brief moments were. This is how normalisation of all things black begins, if the women of The Kingdom Choir can have their hair like that at the British royal wedding at Windsor Castle in the presence of the Queen of England then maybe, when corporate Billy sees a black woman’s hair, it will no longer appear to be anything but ordinary on a black woman’s head. #SayNoToCulturalAppropriation
As I was catching my breath from the asphyxiation caused by the audacious portrayal of blackness, in comes Sheku Kanneh-Mason to play the cello, all the while sporting a small afro! Guys, it was tew much!!! A 19 year old boy which in any other British setting would be deemed aggressive or accused of being a gang member, had the eyes of all the carefully vetted guests and millions of viewers worldwide on him while he displayed his amazing talent in all his blackness! In a world where afros are seen as a sign of a breakdown (Shonda Rhimes imma need you to explain yourself!) or one of aggression, here he was displaying neither and I was all the way here for it. #BlackBoyJoy
The royal wedding was beautiful for several reasons (Meghan’s dress was bland though!), but the only reason it mattered to me was the way it displayed blackness without being toned down and I am grateful that I was able to tune into it as it was happening.
I later found out that Meghan had a flower from all 53 Commonwealth nations sewed into her veil. I saw mixed reactions to this but I chose to interpret it as a thank you. The British Empire was brutal and inhumane in its mission to colonise these countries and never could the colonisers have imagined that a product of that could one day become a recognised member of the British royal family. It was the forced sacrifice of the people of these nations that allowed Meghan to be where she is now, so I felt like she was paying homage to that while reminding everyone of the blood on which the British monarchy was built. #NotRudeHonest
In the midst of all this was a beautiful and dignified woman, who was alone at her daughter's wedding in a foreign land with customs different to her own. I don't know why Doria Ragland didn't have a family member or friend to experience this historical moment with her but I was sad for her. I was also reminded of the countless black mothers who have stood alone in order to see their children succeed and I was proud of the classy way in which she carried herself through the day.