The Crusader Newspaper Group

Black America’s seismic reaction to the royal wedding

By Vernon A. Williams, Gary Crusader

The Royal Wedding. Where do I begin? Perhaps with a disclaimer.

In truth, as far as television viewing goes, watching the “royal wedding” was right up there on my “NEVER to do list” with Duck Dynasty, the Annual Country Music Awards, Keeping Up With the Kardashians and watching again any movie channel retread of the painfully-long, “Titanic.”

I would literally rather watch paint dry or grass grow. You choose the tired, worn cliché and I would gladly embrace the opportunity to do either before volunteering to watch any one of those broadcasts. At least that was the case until last weekend.

To not only watch it but then turn around and write a column on it? Someone needs to check the National Weather Channel to see if Satan’s playground has actually frozen over. The watching of those nuptials officially placed me in unchartered territory.

No alarm clock was set to catch the ceremony. A watch party before the break of dawn was a ridiculous notion. I was home alone when I woke up and turned on the television. With a grip on the remote, there was about to be a serious channel change when appeared a Black Bishop – Michael Curry – articulating the gospel of love.

No, it was not the WORD network. It was the royal wedding. He was not giving an “address” as intimated during his introduction, he was PREACHING. You know – that fiery style of ministry indigenous primarily to the African American community. He sounded nothing like widely held concepts of Episcopalian ministry. Again, he was preaching.

Somber, stoic countenances of virtually every member of the British contingent spoke volumes to their culture shock moment. The British clergyman sitting directly aback, Curry was catatonic. Her Majesty Elizabeth, the matriarch of the royal family, appeared to be caught somewhere between shouting “hallelujah” and “God save the queen!”

The good bishop closed quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In one of our churches, there would have been a chorus of “amen,” thunderous hand praise, a spontaneous ovation, maybe even some speaking in tongues, dancing and running the aisle. Of course, none of that in Windsor. Through it all, the Holy Spirit prevailed.

That would have been sufficient to evidence diversity during the ceremony but it didn’t stop there. No, not even close. I stepped away from the television for just a moment and rushed back in to hear a brother singing the lead to Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” being performed by Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir – 20 Black singers.

Okay at this point, I was thinking to myself the soon-to-be Duchess of Sussex is just showing out! Clearly, there was no denial of her African American heritage; just in case her African American mother with the pierced nose and dreads didn’t convince you.

By this stage of the wedding, social media was abuzz throughout Black America. Brothers much more accustomed to watching ESPN Sportscenter that time of the morning were shamelessly captivated by this unprecedented moment on the world stage. It was a pride thing, The Black preacher and choir would have sufficed. There would be more.

Prior to her fairy tale event, Meghan Markle personally reached out to and invited a 19-year old Black cellist named Sheku Kanneh-Mason (a.k.a. Cello Bae) to walk into the spotlight of this historic event.  His flawless performance was a fitting climax to the gently dominant Black presence throughout the royal wedding.

African Americans had not showcased such demonstrative love and excitement about an event since the election of President Barrack Obama in 2008 (and 2012). There were two reasons for the euphoria.

Many Black celebrities would have felt obligated to mitigate their ethnicity, rationalizing that the audience was not nearly as diverse as the ceremony participants and the event was staged in a nation dominated by long-held traditions, strict protocol, uncompromising historical precedence and conservative whites.

Meghan would have none of that. It was her wedding. She did it her way.

The second reason Black America was ecstatic was the fact that we haven’t experienced many “wins” lately under the current repressive administration in the White House and Congress.  With spiraling racial confrontation and oppression, it was a remarkable “feel good” moment. Cath-artic. A breath of fresh air. Escapism.

Finally, people are warmed by the prospects for the beautiful, young couple – the new Duke and Duchess – who genuinely appear to be in love. With everything else going on across the U.S. and around the world, most seemed to agree that however fleeting the moment – we needed that.

CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION  by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society.Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].

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