Meghan Markle has recounted a shocking story about her family's experience with racism. The actress shared the painful anecdote with her readers on her lifestyle website The Tig, in honour of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Meghan, who has a Caucasian father and an African American mother, recounted a story her grandfather Alvin told her when she was 11. Her grandparents had packed up the car and were going on a road trip from Ohio to California with their three children including their daughter, Meghan's mum.
Meghan has a Caucasian father and an African American mother
"At the time, road trips to me were a collection of Are we there yet?s, the license plate game, the drive-throughs for filler food (where McDonalds was less of a treat and more of the norm), photo ops by signs welcoming you from one state to the next, and stops at local restaurants to stretch your legs," wrote Meghan.
She continued: "'Things were different then,' my grandfather said. 'Meggie, on our road trip, when we went to Kentucky Fried Chicken, we had to go to the back for 'coloreds.' The kitchen staff handed me the chicken from the back door and we ate in the parking lot. That's just what it was."
She shared a story about her family's experience with racism that "still haunts" her
Meghan, who has been dating Prince Harry for six months, admitted that the story "still haunts" her.
"It reminds me of how young our country is. How far we've come and how far we still have to come," wrote Meghan. "It makes me think of the countless black jokes people have shared in front of me, not realising I am mixed, unaware that I am the ethnically ambiguous fly on the wall. It makes me wonder what my parents experienced as a mixed race couple.
"It echoes the time my mum and I were leaving a concert at The Hollywood Bowl, and a woman called her the 'N' word because she was taking too long to pull out of the parking spot. I remember how hot my skin felt. How it scorched the air around me."
The actress has been dating Prince Harry since the summer
Meghan, 35, recently wrote a powerful post about the difficulties of growing up biracial. She recalled another tough time in seventh grade when she was asked to tick a box to indicate her ethnicity. She had a choice of white, black, Hispanic or Asian.
"You could only choose one, but that would be to choose one parent over the other – and one half of myself over the other," wrote Meghan. "My teacher told me to check the box for Caucasian. 'Because that's how you look, Meghan,' she said. I put down my pen. Not as an act of defiance, but rather a symptom of my confusion. I couldn't bring myself to do that, to picture the pit-in-her-belly sadness my mother would feel if she were to find out. So, I didn't tick a box. I left my identity blank – a question mark, an absolute incomplete – much like how I felt."
Meghan concluded by saying that she embraced her mixed heritage and is proud to be "a strong, confident mixed-race woman".