Following Harry and Meghan’s recent tell-all interview with Oprah, interracial relationships have been thrown back into the spotlight.
While Harry and Meghan’s union was initially heralded as the legitimisation of interracial couples in the UK, it’s clear from their Oprah exposé that that there is still a long way to go.
The role that race plays in the British media’s reporting of Harry and Meghan’s relationship has been brought back to the forefront of conversation, as has the way the British public is influenced as a result.
This has been triggering for Black and mixed race people, for those familiar with mental health stigma, but also for those of us in interracial relationships.
We resonate with Harry and Megan's experience, which we've seen play out so publicly.
Here are a few common experiences of interracial couples that have been brought to light through the coverage of their relationship:
Racist attitudes towards interracial couples still exist.
When you live in a multicultural city like London or New York, it’s easy to think that interracial couples are normalised, and therefore don't face prejudice.
But the public responses towards Megan and Harrry, and the countless testimonies of couples online, reveals that racist perceptions still permeate our society. Not to mention the disguised 'banter' that we often let slide.
"Mixed Up" by Tineka Smith is a book recently published that details the experience of interracial couples in the UK more detail if you wanted to do further reading.
Not only was it painful to see those racist overtones on social media and those disgusting press headlines, but it also hurts to know that it was coming from close to home.
Regardless of how people understand Megan's story, we can all agree that family should be a safe place and loving environment away from these external harms.
Which brings us to the next common experience..
Family, Colorism, and Mixed children.
One of the big 'shock' revelations from the interview was the Royals' questions over how dark Archie's skin would be, which Megan and Harry suggests played a part in whether he would receive a royal title or any sort of security.
Again we are reminded how racist caste systems are intrinsically tied to power and resources.
Sadly, this attention on future mixed children is all too familiar for many interracial couples. Many of us have either been on the receiving end of fetishisation of mixed babies through "Aww, your kids will be so cute!", or we get concerns over the shade of their skin..
The only people who should be concerned with the appearance of their future child, should be the parents themselves - to help understand what visual materials they should source to make sure their child feels seen in a world that currently lacks Black and Mixed representation.
What's clear from the interview is how prejudice from the wider society and family does have an impact on mental health, with detrimental effects on emotional well-being.
Relationship Trauma is toxic.
As pointed out by the folks over at Blindian Project:
Let's just double click on the mention of Gaslighting.
We've seen how prominent British talk show/radio show hosts like Piers Morgan and Andrew Pierce have dismissed Megan's experiences as exaggeration.
The same can be said for the vague official statement from the Palace.
These responses fail to acknowledge the lived experience of someone facing mental health trauma due to relationship stigma.
Which is why it's more important than ever to know you have a partner who is ready to support you these hard times.
Partners that have your back.
Harry speaking up against the royal family is a huge step. And in our interviews with other couples, we've encountered partners who have acknowledged their White privilege, and used their voices to call out racist behaviour and stand up for their partner on multiple occasions.
But we also hear of cases where partners can wave off racist incidents that their partner has faced as exaggeration.
Therefore in an interracial relationship, it’s important to know that your partner has your back. And it’s important to be aligned on these things early.
As eloquently put by one of our interviewees Nadia:
"It's important to have conversations about race early with your partner in order to be aligned... To be aligned and strong as a unit on the inside, so that nothing can break you from the outside".