Global browning

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Greg B. Macabenta

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The wedding of Prince Harry and bi-racial TV star, Meghan Markle, is a milestone in race relations as significant as the assumption of the US presidency by half Black Barack Obama. The White supremacists who continue to cling to the fantasy nurtured by Adolf Hitler, fanned by American neo-Nazis and abetted by President Donald Trump are witnessing a phenomenon as inexorable as global warming.

Global browning.

And some pundits are saying that when that happens, the global population will look like kayumangging kaligatang Pinoy.

Indeed, it is a very interesting thesis: the perfect blending of the colors of the world population — Caucasian white, African black, Asian yellow and native American red — is Malayan Filipino brown.

There was a time when only two countries could be considered a rainbow of races, namely, the United States and the Philippines. The US, because it is a country of immigrants that started with a Caucasian base and, subsequently, with African Blacks added to the mixture, and then “colored folks” from all other world. The Philippines because of centuries of trading and colonization that made the country a salad bowl of ethnicities, ranging from the Hispanic Zobels to the Chinese Sys to the African-Pinoy rock star to everything else in-between, from the swarthy Binays to the mestizo Gordons and Sottos to white-skinned Gloria Romero and the pretty boys and girls who populate Philippine showbusiness.


Now, it’s no longer just the US and the Philippines. The racial mixtures in many countries in Europe have become diverse with the influx of immigrants from Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America.

While it is illegal in France to collect data on ethnicity and race, available figures put the number of people of White or European origin at 85%, with an estimated 10% from North Africa, 3.5% Black and 1.5% Asian.

About Germany, an online entry states, “Most Hollywood films about Germany take place during World War II. It’s no wonder, then, that most people’s impressions of the country can be summed up in a few words: Nazis, lederhosen, beer, bratwurst and more Nazis. But to be deterred by the Hollywood version of Germany is to miss out on a modern country that is home to more black people than many people realize.”

Out of a population of nearly 83 million, 2.3 million people in Germany have family links to the Middle East and around 740,000 have African origins. According to the German Mikrozensus 2011, there were about 1.8 million people with an Asian immigrant background, of which about 600,000 were Southeast Asians, primarily from Vietnam and Thailand.

Based on the 2011 census, of the 56 million who lived in England and Wales, 86% were White, 8% were Asian and 3% were Black. Also based on the 2011 census, London only had a 44.9% White British population with 37% born outside the United Kingdom and 24.5% born outside of Europe.

On the other hand, British royalty has been consistently White, going back 37 generations or 1,209 years and counting from King Alfred the Great who reigned in 871.

But now comes Meghan Markle, born to a Black mother and a White father, marrying into the royal family. Because Prince Harry is 6th in the line of succession to the British throne, an offspring from this marriage will yield the first mixed-race child in the House of Windsor — a British-African-American.

In stark contrast to the anti-miscegenation and apartheid policies of yesteryears that made mixed marriages a crime and, therefore, had to be solemnized in the shadows, this mixed-race union was conducted with neither embarrassment nor apologies. Wrote the British daily, The Guardian, “It wasn’t just the black preacher, though Bishop Michael Curry’s fiery address evoking Martin Luther King and the misery of slavery certainly packed a punch. There was also the cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason and the spiritual — “This Little Light of Mine” — sung by a black gospel choir. There was symbolism stitched in to so many elements of the wedding service chosen by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex that spoke to her mixed-race heritage.”

The only wrinkle, albeit insignificant, was Tom Markle, Jr., Meghan’s half-brother, wanting desperately to get Prince Harry to change his mind about marrying his sibling for whatever demented reason.

Perhaps Markle, Jr. was thinking of British poet Rudyard Kipling’s opening lines in his epic poem, “Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet…” which would seem to suggest an unbridgeable gap between lovers of different ethnicities. But the poem is, in fact, an ode to mutual respect between people of contrasting backgrounds and stature as the subsequent lines show: “But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth

When two strong men stand face to face, tho’ they come from the ends of the earth.”

The union of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is another unorthodox chapter in the colorful romantic history of the British royal family.

In 1936, King Edward VIII created a constitutional crisis when he decided to give up his crown in order to marry once-divorced and about-to-be-divorced-again American socialite Wallis Simpson.

Edward’s brother George VI assumed the throne.

When he died in 1952, he was succeeded by his daughter, the present Queen Elizabeth II. Her eldest son, Charles, would have been the heir apparent but for his entanglement with his mistress, Camilla Bowles, for whom he divorced his wife, Princess Diana, mother of Prince Harry and the current heir-apparent, Prince William.

As the lyrics of one of my favorite Harry Belafonte songs put it, “It was love, love alone, caused King Edward to leave his throne.” And it was also love, love alone that caused Prince Charles to lose his place in line for the crown.

We understand that for love, love alone, Prince Harry would have turned his back on the royal household had his family not approved of Meghan Markle.

Indeed, for many dreamy-eyed young girls fantasizing about snaring a Prince Charming, this was the stuff of fairy tales. Wrote Time Magazine, “The fact that a woman of Meghan’s background can become a royal duchess makes the House of Windsor a lottery rather than a cabal. Every little girl now can legitimately dream of marrying Prince George, whatever their color, nationality or sexual history.”

Hopefully, the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan, now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, will last longer than that of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. But if it hits the rocks prematurely, let us all hope it will not be for reasons of race.

And for the thousands — nay, millions — of Pinays who desperately want to whiten their complexions to make themselves more “racially desirable,” we hope that Meghan Markle’s story will make them realize that brown is beautiful.


Greg B. Macabenta is an advertising and communications man shuttling between San Francisco and Manila and providing unique insights on issues from both perspectives.