Will the Duchess of Sussex make the difference in race relations?

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

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In Brixton, London, an enclave of predominantly West Indians, mainly Jamaicans, there has usually been very little motivation to celebrate major activities involving the British monarchy until Ms Meghan Markle — now the duchess of Sussex after Saturday's spectacular marriage to Prince Harry.

Observers said one could not miss the black, green and gold on many London streets amidst the plethora of Union Jacks paying tribute to Prince Harry and his black bride.

Not unexpectedly, many people have already been wondering out loud whether the mere inclusion of a black person in the British royal family will mean much to race relations in United Kingdom and further afield. In other words, is this marriage going to make a difference?

The last time that there was such excitement about race relations was the election of Mr Barack Obama as the 44th and first black president of the United States of America. The questions asked then are the same ones being asked now.

Of course, it is an admission of a major flaw in the human character that there is so much preoccupation with someone's race. But it is what it is until a way is found to get people to accept others as just other human beings and not as white, black, brown or red.

Historians and researchers will in time tell whether President Barack Obama and the new duchess of Sussex will have advanced the race discussion by proving that their conduct and achievements in the positions had nothing to do with the colour of their skin.

But having said all that, we could not help noticing that much care and attention was paid to injecting some elements of African-American cultural mores into the highly traditional royal wedding ceremony said to have been watched by over one billion people globally.

It is a tribute to the royal family, especially Prince Harry, as much as it is to the duchess of Sussex, that the ceremony could not have been accused of mere tokenism in respect of her black heritage.

And it was well past symbolism that the bride's mother was seen on the arm of Prince Charles, the future king, at the wedding chapel; the preacher was black; The Queen's chaplain who read the intercessory prayers was black; the cellist who played was black; the choir was black; and so much more.

The Duchess has already begun to win us over with her quiet charm and confidence, not to mention the fact that she had previously shown her compassion for the unfortunate and concern for some of the major issues keeping humanity divided, including the inequality of women.

We hope that she will be able to use her vaunted place at the side of Prince Harry to continue to draw attention to the suffering and oppression of the poor and indigent in every quarter of the world.

From what we have seen of the royal couple, this should not be difficult.

We wish the duke and duchess of Sussex a very successful marriage and many happy years together.

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