Meghan Markle’s story triggered me: My in-laws tried to bleach my child's skin

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Illustration photo by Getty Images
Illustration photo by Getty Images
  • The world had their eyes glued to their screens watching the royal couple share intimate details about their personal lives and the first-hand racism and sexism Meghan experienced.
  • The one bombshell that triggered Sisanda 44* was when Meghan revealed that ‘concerns were raised about Archie’s skin colour’. 
  • Sisanda resonated with Meghan’s story, and the interview brought back wounds she thought she had healed from. Here is her story.

I’m a Xhosa woman from KZN married to a beautiful white man who’s also from KZN. My husband is and will always be my soul mate. When we met, I just knew that he was the one for the man of my dreams and me. He proposed after a year of dating.

I think because we met when we were both in our late 30s and knew exactly what we wanted. I’m a dark-skinned woman, and I’ve been blessed with a lot of melanin. When his mom first met me, she said I should share my skincare routine cause my skin is flawless.

I didn’t read much into it and just thought she was genuinely complimenting my skin. A lot of people do anyway. The family always seemed welcoming, but the relatives were always quite racist. 

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My husband and I always knew that we wanted to have children and that we weren’t going to wait for too long. We had our first child after a year of marriage. Both our families were excited, but I noticed how his family started to become curious about the gender of the baby.

I thought it was quite strange and thought maybe its because this is their first grandchild.

My husband has no siblings, so this was a big moment for his family. We had decided to find out about the sex of the child only at birth.

We wanted to be surprised; however, his family were dying to find out. During my pregnancy, my mother in law and her sisters would ask me questions such as ‘do your other family members also have such beautiful skin like yours? Or are they a bit fairer than you?‘

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I never knew where those questions were leading to. They once even asked if I think the baby would have curly or straight hair or if I want it to have a ‘beautiful afro’ like mine.

I was starting to pick up on the questions and told my husband. He also told me that they asked if he would be fine if the baby looked more black than white. That’s when I knew that they had a problem with my race and were scared their beloved grandchild would be of mixed race, and that wouldn’t look white.

I couldn’t believe it, so I decided to keep my distance and even told my husband that I wasn’t comfortable having them in our house. He confronted them, and they said they never intended it that way; they were just making conversation. We obviously both knew they were lying. 

I eventually gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. The most perfect baby I’ve ever seen. My husband, I couldn’t believe how blessed we are to witness such perfection. 

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His family and my family embraced her. Everything was fine until our baby girl started growing up and becoming darker, which was never a problem for my husband and me.

One day, his family bought her a whole bag of sunscreens, and that’s when I knew! I knew they were doing this because they hated the fact that she’s becoming darker. I blatantly called them out, and once again, they played dumb. When my daughter became older, we started dropping her off at his family for the holidays. She enjoyed playing with the other kids from their neighbourhood.

The last time my daughter visited them was the last time I had contact with them. I had found bleaching creams and products in the room she used to sleep in when she was there. I even found more in her bag. They tried to deny it, but the truth was right in front of me.

They had been applying the creams on my daughter in hopes that she becomes fairer. I was infuriated and shocked. 

READ MORE | There’s a complex history of skin lighteners in Africa and beyond

My husband and I aren’t on speaking terms with them, and we have distanced ourselves. My daughter doesn’t remember much, but we can’t expose her to them again.

When I watched Meghan tell Oprah about the royal family’s concerns about her son’s skin colour, I immediately started crying.

I resonated with her so much. It baffles me how racist people are, and the sad reality is that even though our partners aren’t racist, marrying into a white family comes with a lot of stigma and depression. I’m grateful that my husband is supportive, but something still needs to change for us women of colour.

We can’t continue going through this. 

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