In a conversation with Mariah Carey on her Spotify podcast, Archetypes, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, said that she had always been perceived as a biracial woman (as opposed to a Black woman) until she began dating her now-husband, Prince Harry.
“If there’s any time in my life that it’s been more focused on my race, it’s only once I dated my husband,” Meghan said. “Then I started to understand [what it’s like] to be treated like a Black woman because up until then, I had been treated like a mixed woman, and things really shifted.”
Carey and the duchess, who each have one white parent and one Black parent, talked about their mixed-race identities.
“I was reading this article about Halle Berry, and they were asking her how she felt being treated as a mixed-race woman in the world, and her response was [that] your experience through the world is how people view you. So she said because she was darker in color, she was being treated as a Black woman, not as a mixed woman,” Meghan said to Carey.
“I think for us it’s so different, because we’re light-skinned; you’re not treated as a Black woman, you’re not treated as a white woman, you sort of fit in between,” Meghan continued.
“I always thought it should be, ‘OK, I’m mixed,’ it should be OK to say that, but people want you to choose,” Carey said. “They want to put you in a box and categorize you.”
Meghan told Carey that the singer had been a “formative” figure in her early life. “You came onto the scene [and I thought], Oh my gosh, someone, someone kind of looks like me.”
The duchess emphatically answered “yes” when Carey asked her if young Meghan perceived her as Black and white. She said, "Yes. I could feel that. Yeah, even at that young age."
Meghan has spoken about her identity as a mixed-race woman in the past.
In 2015, she wrote an essay for Elle UK magazine titled “More Than an Other” about her childhood and growing up between two worlds.
“To describe something as being black and white means it is clearly defined,” she wrote. “Yet when your ethnicity is black and white, the dichotomy is not that clear. In fact, it creates a grey area. Being biracial paints a blurred line that is equal parts staggering and illuminating.”
Carey’s 1997 song “Outside” touches on similar themes. “Inherently it's just always been strange,” she sings. “Neither here nor there / Always somewhat out of place everywhere / Ambiguous / Without a sense of belonging to touch / Somewhere halfway / Feeling there's no one completely the same.
“Standing alone / Eager to just / Believe it’s good enough to be what / You really are / But in your heart / Uncertainty forever lies / And you’ll always be / Somewhere on the / Outside.”
Archetypes, a podcast hosted by Meghan, is the first full show to be produced for Spotify after the Sussexes signed a reportedly $25 million/£18 million content creation contract with the streaming service in 2020.
Tuesday’s episode with Carey was the second of 12 that will be released over the upcoming weeks — the first episode featured tennis superstar Serena Williams.