Who knew that my own engagement would have led to a lifestyle and career change. Who knew that the last couple of weeks working on a Sky News documentary about race & weddings would be so pertinent.
I was speaking at an event recently, as part of my talk I shared about my experience growing up in the UK as a black woman. Another speaker felt compelled to share her story & said her and a family member were recently working to overcome their fear of black people. A fear that I learned is quite common in certain corners of the world.
Her honesty and bravery and our exchange in that moment was quite profound. I don’t say this for anyone to mock or shame, but as a reminder we all live in a bubble where we think people behave, think and respond in the same way we do. They don’t. That we perceive each other in the same way. We don’t. That the opportunities we receive are the same. They aren’t.
This was a reminder why the diversity work I do to continue to bring race equality not only in the wedding industry, but into society continues to be vital! To continue to break down common rhetorics casually shared with me that “black is less desirable and won’t sell”, that “white women won’t buy magazines with black girls on the cover”. These are all memes coming from someones belief system and not from fact. How do we break this down? – By seeing more and more different versions of beauty, success and power, by diversifying our content and our business practices, by addressing our own prejudice – like the lady at the conference. By widening our network of who we let into our circle at work and socially, so that our automatic response to difference is not to fear. But to embrace it and recognise the wonderful gifts that diversity adds to this world.
I can’t tell you how excited I am for the Royal Wedding. Not just to see how Meghan’s Caribbean influences will be fused into the wedding day, not to see Meghan’s outfit (ok, maybe a little). Not because I am a die-hard fan of the Royals (although I am a BIG fan of the modern Royals) but more-so because of what the marriage of Harry and Meghan will represent from this poignant moment in history forward.
It will be the multicultural wedding of the century and I don’s say that to highlight difference, but to highlight and acknowledge “the first”.
Former Suits actress, activist and feminist, Meghan Markle of dual heritage (her mother is black and father white) will be the first woman of colour to be accepted and openly acknowledged into the Royal Family.
I’ve never really been particularly patriotic, perhaps because deep down, I have never truly felt fully accepted as a British woman in this country. I am always “othered. I am always asked; “where are you from?” as a starting point for conversation at networking dinners, even yesterday. But I am excited to see what the future holds for Meghan and Harry. I wonder how Meghan will use her advocacy and feminism to challenge patriarchy. I wonder how their union, to love whom they choose to inspite of barriers, to stand up for what they believe in, may pave the way for other couples and if it will change perceptions and influence our homogenous mainstream industry, to expand our thinking of what marriage in the UK looks like and how gorgeously blended we all are.
I am humbled that my own journey to feeling absolutely invisible in the wedding industry led me to starting Nu Bride and has now led me to being present at the Royal Wedding on Saturday. Be inspired to be the change you want to see in the world.
Ps. Tune into Sky News TONIGHT, Friday the 18th May at 6:30pm where I will be sharing my views on the wedding with deputy editor of Elle UK. Then tune into BBC World news tonight at 7pm and I will be live from Windsor on the 19th from 7:30am on BBC One. Follow my insta-stories tomorrow to follow all the action live!