Prince Harry’s leading lady, actress Meghan Markle has opened up about her family’s experience with discrimination.
According to the “Suits” star, 35, growing up biracial — her mother is African American and father is White — wasn’t a cakewalk. In fact, in a candid essay penned in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day — the beauty reveals her experience still “haunts” her to this day.
In the piece which was first written in 2015 for TheTig.com — an “inspirational lifestyle” website where she serves as editor-in-chief — and shared again on Monday, Jan. 16, Markle recounted a story told to her by her maternal grandfather when she was just 11 years old; at a time when “road trips to me were a collection of ‘Are we there yets?’ The license plate game, the drive-throughs for filler food, photo ops by signs welcoming you from one state to the next, and stops at local restaurants to stretch your legs.”
Meanwhile, her beloved grandfather, Alvin, had a different take on the time he packed up his family to move from Ohio to California. Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, was about 7 years old at the time and according to the star’s account, grabbing even a fast-food meal was trying.
“‘Meggie, on our road trip, when we went to Kentucky Fried Chicken, we had to go to the back for ‘coloreds,’” Markle recalled her gramps telling her. “The kitchen staff handed me the chicken from the back door and we ate in the parking lot. That’s just what it was.”
Of course, the tale left a lasting mark on the actress. “That story still haunts me,” she explained. “It reminds me of how young our country is. How far we’ve come and how far we still have to come.” Unfortunately for Markle, her grandfather’s stories would only foreshadow the discrimination she’d face as a child, including when she had to endure “countless Black jokes” from people who didn’t realize she is “mixed” — not to mention the backlash she’d face after finding love with White royalty.
“It makes me wonder what my parents experienced as a mixed race couple,” she wrote. “It echoes the time my mom 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.”
In conclusion, Markle thanked those who paved the way before her, writing, “To Martin Luther King Jr., to Harvey Milk, to Gloria Steinem and Cesar Chavez, to my mom and dad for choosing each other not for the ‘color of their skin, but the content of their character,’ to all of you champions of change: Thank you.”