By Sarah E. Gaither
December 1, 2021
Imagine that upon your engagement, instead of congratulations, you hear that your future father-in-law has begun musing about your future son or daughter’s complexion. Now imagine how that would feel if you were biracial and the first Black-identified person to marry into the modern British royal family, and none other than the next king of England was allegedly speculating about the race of your hypothetical children.
Andersen claims Charles discussed the potential melanin levels of his future grandchildren over breakfast with his wife, Camilla.
According to the new book “Brothers and Wives: Inside the Private Lives of William, Kate, Harry, and Meghan,” written by Christopher Andersen, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, didn’t have to imagine how that might feel — she lived it. Among other tidbits, royals expert Andersen claims Prince Charles discussed the potential melanin levels of his future grandchildren over breakfast with his wife, Camilla.
Charles’ spokesperson told reporters that the claim “is fiction and not worth further comment.” But we do know that this type of identity questioning is far too common for the multiracial demographic and that it often impairs one’s social belonging, which is key to feeling positively about yourself. In fact, recent research has shown that in a sample of 293 multiracial people, over 94 percent reported having experienced questions like “What are you?” as they relate to their physical appearance or skin color. And although not all multiracial people mind questions like those if they are asked out of genuine curiosity, these types of encounters can be dehumanizing and “othering.”
Charles’ reported comments also shine a spotlight on racial microaggressions — a subtle statement or behavior, whether intentional or not, that communicates something negative and yet still ambiguous about a person of color. While they are often small and even seemingly insignificant, microaggressions cause significant psychological harm, research shows. And if you have ever heard a question like “Is your hair real?” or “Do you speak English?” or “Where are you from?” you also have most likely faced a racial microaggression.