Jeneé Osterheldt

Meghan Markle will be royalty — but not the great wife hope for black women

Prince Harry reveals when he knew Meghan Markle was 'the one'

Prince Harry and his future wife Meghan Markle made a brief appearance before photographers on the grounds of Kensington Palace hours after their engagement was announced.
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Prince Harry and his future wife Meghan Markle made a brief appearance before photographers on the grounds of Kensington Palace hours after their engagement was announced.

Fact: I'm Team Meghan Markle. She's talented and speaks her mind. She's a brilliant actress, feminist and philanthropist.

And we have a lot in common. She's mixed like me, we're both divorced and have crazy families. I want to see her win in her marriage to Britain's Prince Harry.

But one thing Meghan is not: a beacon of hope for black women.

It's true that Black America is paying attention to Saturday's Windsor wedding, with its black bishop, black choir, black cellist and black bride. Meghan, whose mother is black and father is white, quickly became a #blackprincess hashtag when the engagement was announced.

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Later this weekend, I'll be on my couch, talking to Twitter and fast-forwarding my DVR recording. I love her Black Girl Magic, but I'm not waking up at 6 a.m. for strangers.

On her wedding day, we can root for her and be happy to see her shine while also realizing that Meghan becoming a royal wife is not the answer to our prayers.

I keep seeing headlines, like the one "Good Morning America" apologized for last December, claiming the engagement gave black women hope. The Guardian just did a story saying the royal wedding is workplace inspiration for black women. Please.

I get it. Black women are twice more likely than white women to never have been married by the age of 45, according to a Yale study. Dating apps continually find black women and Asian men at the bottom of the preference list. According to OkCupid, 82 percent of non-black men have bias against black women.

It took "The Bachelor" and "Bachelorette" franchises 34 seasons to cast a black person as the lead. And when they did, Rachel Lindsay's season was among the lowest-rated in the series.

On an episode of "Grown-ish" in March, while confronting the challenges of dating while black, Jazz said, "Everybody's always checking for the girl that looks black, but nobody wants the girl that actually is."

Meghan is not going to change that. Perhaps she will add to the nuance of black beauty — even though she identifies strictly as a biracial woman, and she looks racially ambiguous. She grew up seeing her black mama mistaken for her nanny.

Beauty standards will not be turned upside down.

Plenty of white men, whether we're talking Kansas City Chief Travis Kelce or David Bowie, love black women. George Lucas has a black wife, and that has yet to silence racist fanboys.

Why are we upholding the idea that being a wife makes Meghan matter more? Oprah isn't married. You mean to tell me wifehood makes someone more inspirational than Oprah. Hella sexist. A royal putting a ring on it doesn't validate Meghan. It doesn't make her any more whole than she already was.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are not Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving, the interracial couple who made it possible for my parents to legally love each other. This wedding isn't going to change laws. But being that she's a biracial 36-year-old American divorcée, she does break the mold for royal princesses. The last marriage to an American divorcée, Wallis Warfield Simpson, cost King Edward VIII the throne.

If anything, this marriage shakes away the shame of divorce. Maybe it makes interracial dating in royal circles less taboo. And that's important.

As crazy as it sounds, "Black Panther's" fictional Princess Shuri may have a bigger impact than Meghan on our day-to-day lives as black American women. Shuri will open the door to better roles for black women and allow audiences to see our value.

Melanin might be poppin' in the monarchy, but she's not going to upend the institution. Britain's culture of supremacy won't suddenly come undone because Prince Harry — sixth in line to the throne — put a ring on it.

Her pending royal status didn't stop tabloids from racist comments, so it certainly won't stop dating bias against black women. Prince Harry had to release a statement asking the madness to stop. But if all it took was a memo, we'd be a utopia by now.

When President Barack Obama took office, there was this half-baked idea of a post-racial America. Y'all. Author Seth Stephens-Davidowitz found that on Election Night 2008, one in every 100 Google searches that included "Obama" also included "KKK" and the n-word.

Following his presidency, our country elected a racist xenophobe. But Meghan's wedding is the answer? I wish.

That won't stop me from tuning in Saturday to swoon over a fairy-tale romance.

But since she wasn't born into the royal family, she won't be granted the title of princess.

With or without the crown, though, Meghan, like all black women, is a queen. No ring needed.

Jeneé Osterheldt is a Kansas City Star culture columnist. On Twitter: @jeneeinkc
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