A wedding for everyone


LAUGH ALL you want or even ridicule me for being glued to the TV on May 19 for the royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, but you cannot tarnish the joy I experienced on a day that validated fairy tales and equality. I wouldn’t be able to go through life if I didn’t believe in fairy tales, and this was one that suited me personally as a mother of two mixed children. (I have never preferred the term biracial.)

From the time my daughter, Ijanaya, now 30, learned that Harry was dating Meghan she willed them into that marriage. Her exuberance delighted me to the extent that I played along with her wedding-day celebration. On the morning of the wedding, we ate salmon on English muffins and drank Earl Grey tea in gold-trimmed teacups she had bought at Windsor Castle.

And with all our joy, I knew exactly how Doria Ragland, Markle’s mother, felt sitting alone in that church with no other family members. Markle’s mother and I come from a generation that believed in fairy tales, but didn’t take them for granted. We knew how easily dreams could be dashed. We knew that prejudice does not merely come in black and white. It comes in shades of colours in-between.

We were the women who believed in equality to the point that we didn’t consider race or class in our own romantic relationships. Imagine our surprise when people deemed us horrible, cruel, selfish, thoughtless people. In the US, we were told that no one would ever accept our children because they were neither black nor white.

I raised my children in Trinidad and told them they belonged to two very special worlds. Still, I often agonised over the feeling that I could never return to the US. When civil rights leader Andrew Young visited Trinidad and Tobago years ago, I approached him after a press conference and told him, “I think sometimes of coming back to the US, but don’t know where I could live because I have two mixed children.”

He seemed to melt into sadness that suggested he understood my plight.

“You will come to Atlanta,” he said in a kind, supportive voice. “We are looking for people like you. Whenever you decide to come, call me, and I will personally find a job for you.” He handed me four business cards so that I could find him anywhere.

After that day, I never felt like returning to the US to live again. I just needed to feel in my heart that I wouldn’t always be an outcast. I needed to feel that my children could experience that other world that was part of them.

But I don’t want you to think that this was a wedding only for people like Ijanaya and me or people who believe in fairy tales. In many ways, this was a wedding that celebrated single mothers everywhere who experience our children’s happiness and achievements alone.

As Maris Bate said in an Internet commentary she wrote on May 21, “And that’s the thing about single parents: they turn up alone. They do the hard stuff, the fun stuff, the stuff they never dreamed they’d do alone. They turn up to parents’ evening, where there are always two chairs, alone. They come to school plays alone. They spend evenings at home alone… And, yes, they have friends and careers and fully, busy lives – but they know how to be alone.”

If you still complain and insist on being cynical about how much money England “wasted” on that royal wedding, let me say that I feel reasonably certain that England will make back the money spent. The royals are a tourist attraction. They package and sell history very well. As I write this, I can see young people all over the world googling historical information pertaining to the royals and British history.

And so what if England does not make back every cent from that wedding? What kind of price can you put on the pride and joy we witnessed in those people lining the streets to catch a glimpse of royal history? What about all those people in hospices and women’s shelters who received flowers from the wedding? How much is that pride and joy worth?

If a royal wedding is what we needed to discover and appreciate history, fairy tales and each other, then it wasn’t just a day for me and my daughter. It was a day for everyone. I’m sorry if you missed it.


"A wedding for everyone"

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