Meghan Markle unpacks the history and meaning of the word “diva” on the latest episode of her new “Archetypes” podcast. And, fittingly, she digs into the subject with the singer who has most glitteringly defined the term for more than three decades: Mariah Carey.
But the topic the Duchess of Sussex is most eager to tackle on the “Duality of Diva” episode of her Spotify pod with MC is their mutual experience of growing up biracial and the challenges Markle said she could relate to, describing “her [Carey’s] constant struggle to find her place and to fit in.”
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Carey, who lived with her mother after her parent’s divorce, talked about moving homes 14 times as a child and how she idolized people she saw on TV whose hair was always “flowing in the wind” (hence, her always perfectly breeze-tossed tresses). “I didn’t fit in. I didn’t fit in. You know, it would be more of the Black area of town or then you could be where my mom chose to live, were the more, the white neighborhoods,” Carey said. “And I didn’t fit in anywhere at all.”
Markle said she could relate as Carey described trying to find her place at a predominately white school where a student mocked her clothes and the Duchess explained that having Mariah on the pod was so important to her for this very reason. “I had to talk to you,” she said. “You were so formative for me. Representation matters so much. But when you are a woman and you don’t see a woman who looks like you somewhere, in a position of power or influence, or even just on the screen… you came onto the scene and [I said], ‘Oh my gosh, someone kind of looks like me!'”
Mariah wondered if Markle immediately knew that the singer was biracial — she did — with Markle saying that from a young age she realized the power of people’s perceptions. Recalling an article she read about actress Halle Berry, Markle said, “they were asking her how she felt being treated as a mixed-race woman in the world. And her response was her saying, ‘Well, 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.”
Because she and Carey are light-skinned, Markle said “you’re not treated as a Black woman. You’re not treated as a white woman. You sort of fit in between.” In her case, though, the intense scrutiny that came with her marriage to Prince Harry meant that once they began dating, “then I started to understand what it was like to be treated like a Black woman. Because up until then, I had been treated like a mixed woman. And things really shifted.”
Saying she could totally relate to the “interesting” idea of being forced to choose between identifying as Black or white, Carey — who noted that her father is Black and that her great-great grandmother was Venezuelan — added, “As mixed woman, because I always thought it should be okay to say I’m mixed. Like it should be okay to say that. But people want you to choose.”
She continued, “My father’s family is black, so everybody was like, ‘her father’ is Venezuelan and Black’ because they didn’t know how to put me in that box. They want to put you in a box and categorize you,” Carey said, adding that her mother is Irish, “all the way back to the Blarney Stone.”
Listen to the full “Archetypes” podcast below.