Meghan Markle shared her family’s horrific experience growing up with racism to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday.
The 35-year-old Suits star, whose mother is African-American and father is Caucasian, opened up about the struggles of being biracial in an essay for her website, TheTig.com.
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In the editorial, the actress recounts a story her grandfather told her when she was 11 years old, about how he packed up the car and moved the family from Ohio to California when her mother was around seven.
“Road trips to me were a collection of ‘Are we there yet?’s, the license plate game, the drive-throughs for filler food (where McDonalds was less of a treat and more of the norm), photo ops by signs welcoming you from one state to the next, and stops at local restaurants to stretch your legs,” wrote Markle.
“’Things were different then,’ my grandfather said,” continued Markle. “’Meggie, on our road trip, when we went to Kentucky Fried Chicken, we had to go to the back for ‘coloreds.’ The kitchen staff handed me the chicken from the back door and we ate in the parking lot. That’s just what it was.’”
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Markle admitted the story “still haunts me,” and reminds her how far the country still has to go when it comes to race relations.
She also shared how her own experience with discrimination included having “countless black jokes,” told in front of her.
“It makes me wonder what my parents experienced as a mixed race couple,” she wrote. “It echoes the time my mom and I were leaving a concert at The Hollywood Bowl, and a woman called her the ‘N’ word because she was taking too long to pull out of the parking spot. I remember how hot my skin felt. How it scorched the air around me.”
“To Martin Luther King Jr., to Harvey Milk, to Gloria Steinem and Cesar Chavez, to my mom and dad for choosing each other not for the ‘color of their skin, but the content of their character,’ to all of you champions of change: Thank you,” she concluded.
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Markle previously discussed growing up in biracial in an essay for Elle UK. In the essay, she explained how being mixed race “paints a blurred line that is equal parts staggering and illuminating."
See more on the essay in the video below.