Why Black People Don't Care About Royalty

Prince Harry (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Prince Harry (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

(The Root) — It's rarely a good idea to make a sweeping racial generalization — ever. But I'm taking a risk and making one now: Most black Americans don't care about royalty. To be more specific, most don't care about the British royal family — from Queen Elizabeth to Kate Middleton, and certainly not the visiting Prince Harry — that the rest of America seems obsessed with.


Now, before someone sends me an email, Facebook message or tweet to say, "But I care about the British royal family, Keli," let me say this: I'm not saying there is not a single black person who cares about them. I'm saying I've never met that person, and in all of the black people I have met in my life, I have never met another black person who has met that person.

Need proof besides my word? Take a look at this photo of female Capitol Hill staffers waiting to catch a glimpse of Prince Harry during his visit to the United States this week. Do you see any black women? Because I don't. (I realize that racial identity is a complex subject, so I apologize in advance to anyone in the photo who identifies as black.)

Yet Prince Harry's visit is being covered as if it were definitely the most important news story to most American women, and possibly the most important news story to all Americans. Just as Middleton has graced the covers of hundreds of American magazines as if she's one of the most interesting women to Americans.

Maybe they are.

Just not to black Americans.

So why is that?

For starters, I think a lot of black Americans don't celebrate inherited privilege the way some other groups do. When some people see a name like "Romney" or "Bush," they think, "I know that name. That name equals "experience" or "a great family."

Black Americans are more likely to say, "I know that name. I guess his daddy's planning to buy him a governor's mansion or the White House." This perception isn't necessarily party-specific, either. Though Hillary Clinton is now beloved after an impressive stint as secretary of state in the Obama administration, I believe that for a number of African Americans, part of the allure of supporting President Obama over then-Sen. Clinton in 2008 was that his parents or spouse didn't open doors for him the way Mrs. Clinton's husband, as a former president, was able to do for her.

As black people, we are already born at a disadvantage in this country, so why would we celebrate perpetuating other unfair advantages? Even if Hillary Clinton makes it to the White House this time (and I predict that she will), if her daughter runs for office (and there is already speculation that she will), I think a lot of black Americans will not think, "Go Chelsea!" It'll be more like, "Here we go again."


Furthermore, modern-day "princes" and "princesses" are essentially just code for "socialites." Black Americans don't have time for that, either. When we hear "socialite," we hear "rich people who don't work." Or, worse, "rich people who didn't earn their money and don't want to work."

That's one of the reasons we ridicule the whole Basketball Wives phenomenon. Even though black women may be the predominant ones watching the show, they are also the women's primary critics. The reason? In our community, flaunting the fact that you want to live a "fabulous" life without working for it is nothing to be proud of (even if plenty of people secretly wish they could do the same thing).


Middleton, the so-called commoner who married into the royal family, is essentially a basketball wife with a ring and some class. We may watch from afar and think "That must be a charmed life," but very few of us actually stand up and applaud. Because why should we cheer the concept of simply marrying well in the year 2013?

Instead, our community is too busy celebrating those with power and privilege who got there the old-fashioned way — and I don't mean by marrying into it or being born into it. I mean working for it. We like celebrating individuals who, despite being born with every disadvantage in life, prove that the smart, poor black kid can end up in the White House and can even end up defeating a white guy from a wealthy family with a famous last name.


And we like celebrating female role models who don't marry men to make their lives better, but who are the ones men marry to make themselves better. In other words, we'll take self-made queen Michelle Obama over your run-of-the-mill princess any day of the week.

Keli Goff is The Root's special correspondent. Follow her on Twitter.

Keli Goff is The Root’s special correspondent. Follow her on Twitter