- Meghan Markle has denied allegations published in The Times of London that she intimidated palace attendants.
- There is a long history of black women disproportionately accused of workplace harassment.
- The “angry black woman” is a racial stereotype that reduces powerful women to the status of aggressor.
Meghan Markle has found herself at the center of the latest British tabloids allegation, but this time the finger pointing brings an accusation that too many women of color in leadership positions know – bullying.
Markle said she was “deeply saddened” by the allegation that she had “humiliated” palace attendants and denied the story that emerged after two senior palace members spoke confidently with Valentine Low , reporter for The Times of London.
“Staff were at times reduced to tears; one aide, anticipating a confrontation with Meghan, told a colleague: ‘I can’t stop shaking,'” Low wrote in the article now dubbed “a calculated smear campaign “by Markle’s team. .
A close friend of Markle’s suggested that these stories were not only fake, but that their making had an underlying racial motivation, telling Harper’s Bazaar: Accused of being too angry, too scary, whatever in the workplace . “
Allegations Against Markle Play In “Angry Black Woman” Stereotype
What Markle’s friend is referring to here is often referred to as âmisogynistâ. It is at the intersection of race and gender that dark-skinned women are particularly susceptible to prejudice and discrimination, especially in the office politics of workplaces.
Sheryl Miller is a business consultant and author of Smashing Stereotypes: How To Get Ahead When You’re The Only ____ In The Room. Miller spoke to Insider about the insidious nature of unconscious workplace biases and how they relate to Markle.
âResearch shows that there is a negative correlation between success and liking with women,â Miller said. “As men are successful they are appreciated more, but as women are successful they tend to be hated, it goes a bit in the opposite direction.”
Miller told Insider that this gendered double standard, which reinforces the so-called Glass Ceiling, affects black women on an additional racial level.
This is a problem that many women of color are familiar with. Insider spoke to a woman who said she had been the victim of bullying charges she believed to be unfounded and due to her race. She told Insider when she was promoted to her sales role, she quickly found herself accused of cyberbullying and unprofessionalism.
The woman, who asked Insider to keep her identity anonymous due to work concerns but whose identity is known, said it affected her working relationship and reputation over a three-month period.
âA lot of things that I went through during that time I had to internalize just because I was afraid of being portrayed as the angry black woman,â she said, referring to a racist trope that narrows down black women to be “aggressive, moody, illogical, bossy, hostile and unprovoked ignorant.” While there has been no formal investigation to confirm that the source did these things, she says the accusations created a lonely and hostile environment until she decides to resign.
Successful black women are no strangers to this trope
The stereotype of the “angry black woman” has already been used against other powerful black women such as Kamala Harris, Shonda Rhymes and Serena Williams. It seems that this institutional reluctance to allow black women to be outspoken and powerful is now being projected onto Markle as well.
Miller said she believed Markle had been misguided and not given the support she needed as the first person of color to enter the royal institution.
âAs for how she was positioned in the past, she wanted to have a voice that I fully applaud her for, but I think she needed more guidance and more PR,â said Miller.
Markle spoke candidly about her mental health issues during the interview with Oprah. She said she had suicidal thoughts after battling increased media attention, but was told she couldn’t ask for help. Since the interview aired, many British tabloids and media figures have started to discredit her struggle, playing more in the trope by demonstrating an inability to view her as anything other than an aggressor.
For the Daily Mail, Piers Morgan wrote a column with the headline: “After these shocking Palace bullying allegations, please spare me more halo-cracked hypocrites Meghan and Harry’s victimization garbage that empower women. ”
Meanwhile, The Telegraph’s Madeline Grant wrote: “We are all experiencing Meghan’s truth now. Like Alice through the looking glass, we have to believe impossible things before breakfast.”
In a study titled “The Angry Black Woman: The Impact of Derogatory Stereotypes on Psychotherapy with Black Women,” Wendy Ashley wrote: “This myth and the corresponding negative stereotypes significantly affect black women intrapsychically. , interpersonal and are likely to influence the effectiveness of mental disorders. health treatment. “
Markle is not alone. Michelle Obama spoke of the experience of being called an angry black woman while campaigning for president in 2008.
“It was one of those things you kinda think about, you fucking don’t even know me, you know?” she told Oprah Winfrey during her last White House interview. “You just feel like, Wow, where did that come from?” “
For Obama, the trope should not be taken personally and is rather an extension of the person bringing the accusation. But media portrayals of black women – including how some in the media attacked Markle or Obama for their outspokenness – are often internalized, further perpetuating the trope. And seeing powerful black women making headlines can have real impacts on ordinary people.
âGrowing up, because I played football and because of my appearance, I compared myself a lot to Serena Williams and internalized a lot of the negative media she received for her competitiveness,â the source said. Insider, explaining why the performance is so powerful.
The treatment of Markle by the British tabloids, along with the bullying allegations that are now attached to his reputation, inadvertently send a message to women of color about their place in society and foreshadow what can happen when people become uncomfortable with these women who rise to the top of their fields.