Only if we use the American meaning of black

They insist that the generational gap between Charlotte and her assumed African forebear is so vast as to make the notion ridiculous. Others argue that even the evidence that Madragana was black is itself sketchy.

David Williamson, the late co-editor of Debrett’s Peerage, once opined: “It really is so remote. In any case, all European royal families somewhere are linked to the kings of Castile. There is a lot of Moorish blood in the Portuguese royal family and it has diffused over the rest of Europe. The question is, who cares?”

The answer, of course, is rather a lot of people. As historian Professor Kate Williams has noted: “If she was black, this raises a lot of important suggestions about not only our royal family, but those of most of Europe, considering that Queen Victoria’s descendants are spread across most of the royal families of Europe and beyond. If we class Charlotte as black, then ergo Queen Victoria and our entire royal family, [down] to Prince Harry, are also black… a very interesting concept.”

If we use that one drop rule, where octoroons were still slaves, does this mean that Caroline herself, or any descendants, were or are “black”. This not, of course, being anything close to what we, in England, have traditionally used as a definition of “black”. Probably, precisely because we didn’t have slavery here as a race based institution. Therefore the idea of having to have some strict dividing line wasn’t relevant.

The American definition is of that one drop kind. Which is why someone like Meghan, who we English wouldn’t describe as black, seems to think of herself as being so.

To use an analogy. Between my father and I we could – without considering that little talent bar – have played rugby for any of the four home nations, soccer for any of the five, all based on the grandparent rule. No one at all would ever describe either of us as other than English. Or to go further back, one g g granny was a bit of a goer. Couple of marriages, at least one divorce, the birth certificate for one child has marginalia “born 11 months after husband’s death” and hell, much of this was in 19th century Oz. G granny from this source was born in Callao, Peru. Possibly of the husband (English) of the time, possibly of the mestizo (Spanish/Amerind) known to be hanging around.

Anyone therefore going to call me First Nations or summat? Lizzie Warren stylee? No, clearly and obviously not. So all this about Charlotte is bollocks in this English sense then, isn’t it?

36 thoughts on “Only if we use the American meaning of black”

  1. As you point out, it all depends on your definition of black. Since the human race is supposed to have originated in Africa, one can reasonably argue that we’re all black.

    No doubt that peculiar pallid complexion I see in the mirror is an optical illusion.

  2. So Much For Subtlety

    I don’t know who this “we” keeps referring to. The One Drop rule was not precisely formulated in the English Empire using those exact words but the concept is thoroughly well known. We did not need slavery for that. Empire was enough. South Africa had a passing acquaintance with slavery and Rhodesia none at all. No problems with the one drop rule.

    It also turns up often enough in Victorian literature.

    Meghan is Black by any rational British definition. And if the Royals have married into the Portuguese Royal family, which in turn had married into some Arabs with some African blood, then they too would have been Black in ye olde days.

    The British government at the time would have classified your entire family as non-White if g-whatever-granny was banging boots with a mixed race Peruvian. Admittedly at some point it would be absurd and they would stop, but that was the formal practice.

    The Americans did not think these things up on their own.

  3. Allthegoodnamesaretaken

    David Williamson, the late co-editor of Debrett’s Peerage, once opined: “It really is so remote.”

    Just how out of touch with today’s zeitgeist is this obviously stale, pale male?

  4. I saw Alexandre Dumas being hailed as a black history marvel. First things first he was indeed a great writer.(he says having not read him- but via Hollywood/Pinewood i can tell Musketeers and Monte Christo are ripping good yarns). Yet he was also an aristocrat albeit initially an impecunious one. Yes, in revolutionary France that’s not necessarily an advantage- in practice you have an education, which most don’t, so yeah it is, and now posher aristos are either headless, made themselves scarce or can’t pull rank. But the funny thing is with BHM they have their search filters set at any off white skin tones they find in recorded history and Bingo up they go. But how did Alexandre come well known? That’s what we care about. He wrote stories, created characters. What about?, racialoppression? pff! pre-revolutionary European courtly intrigues and affairs of state, and the fall and rise of impecunious hard done by aristos.

  5. So Much For Subtlety

    I saw Alexandre Dumas being hailed as a black history marvel.

    Pushkin too. The Left’s rule seems to be One drop for me, not for thee.

  6. Historically, the Moors were the Arab invaders of North Africa who then bounced across the straits and, in alliance with Berbers, invaded and occupied Spain.

    So, not black. And if of Berber rather than Arab ancestry, just as much a Med as any Wop or Dago.

  7. I’ve seen pictures of Meghan, and she’s not-black by any rational definition. She’s only black by irrational definitions.

  8. If you shave an ape I think you get to see pale/white/fleshy skin underneath. We are all African if we go back far enough to when we split from an ape-like ancestor, but we were not black skinned. Probably.

  9. I guess these people have watched Showboat but not El Cid.

    Look at the flag of Sardinia, with the Moor’s head on it or the arms of Milan, with the worm eating the Moor. These were not really accurate representations, just as Othello is not either, but attempts to show how alien these invaders were.

  10. Otto, to be a pendant it is not the arms of Milan – those are based on the flag of St Ambrose (which is the same as that of St George).

    The snake and child thing was associated with one of the noble/papal families but is not, has either never been, or at least not for many centuries, the official arms of the city.

  11. ‘So all this about Charlotte is bollocks in this English sense then, isn’t it?’

    It’s all BS. The Left’s goal is to identify all blacks so that they won’t be discriminated against.

    ” We are all African if we go back far enough to when we split from an ape-like ancestor”

    Sorries. Didn’t happen. We are apes. A different sort of ape, but apes, nonetheless.

  12. I’ve seen pictures of Meghan too, and I’d ride that like Frankie Dettori.

    Can I get a laminated “GET OUT OF RACISS FREE” card?

  13. So Much For Subtlety

    Can I get a laminated “GET OUT OF RACISS FREE” card?

    Didn’t work for Thomas Jefferson. I wonder if anyone has ever accused someone else of a hate fuck? If so, sign me up baby. I was a huge Miami Vice fan and whatever else you can say, Olivia Brown doesn’t look to be such a nut case as Meghan.

  14. If we are all black though, how will the Left hate and despise us?

    Anyway, the Left adopting the “one drop” rule shows that if you wait long enough, history always repeats itself.

  15. I’d have thought the whole pale=classy thing for centuries would have got in the way of mixed-race women rising in society.

    Also, name a portrait of a black woman who isn’t Dido Belle.

  16. Miscegenation used to be a terrible terrible thing, at least if Showboat is to be believed. Now it seems to be a really really good thing to be (possibly) 1/1,024th black.

    When pretty much everyone is black does it follow that being white finally earns an intersectional victim rating? Doesn’t seem to be the case on other continents though.

  17. I dunno about Meghan. She has spindly legs and horrible feet ( and probably pointy elbows).

    But then I guess one isn’t necessarily looking at those bits.

    Especially Milanese giant serpents.

  18. @ Jonathan
    Nearly – Othello (“the Moor of Venice”) was a Berber, the Arabs ruling Morocco when they invaded Spain were a ruling minority and most “Moors”, even then, were Berbers.
    But it is quite true than neither Arabs not Berbers were black.

  19. “The British government at the time would have classified your entire family as non-White”.

    Really? Which arm of the government? For what purpose? One of the beauties of living In Olden Times was that the government had little effect on your life at all except maybe in time of war.

  20. There is an item in the old (Great War) War Office questionnaire for aspiring Army officers whether the applicant is “Full European.”

    I do not know if there was an active colour bar, beyond issues of morale amongst the common soldiery. It does not indicate on the form that this was the case.

  21. ‘There is an item in the old (Great War) War Office questionnaire for aspiring Army officers whether the applicant is “Full European.”’

    And then they ignored it. There were some interesting articles and letters in the Telegraph on the subject earlier this year. The most striking one was not about “black” Caribbean officers in the Great War but described a mulatto, son of a slave-owner in the West Indies, sent to school in England, and eventually bequeathed a large sum by his father. He bought a country estate and became a noted member of the gentry. He became an officer in the Glos Yeomanry, a magistrate, Deputy Lieutenant of the county, and Sheriff (if I’ve got that term right). First half of the 19th century I think it was.

  22. Come to think of it I know a counterexample to the “they had to be white” story.

    “Colonel Light, was a British-Malayan naval and army officer. He was the first Surveyor-General of the new British Province of South Australia, known for choosing the site of the colony’s capital, Adelaide, and for designing the layout of its streets, six city squares, gardens and the figure-eight Adelaide Park Lands, in a plan later sometimes referred to as Light’s Vision.”

    When I lived in Adelade he was still highly regarded but a native friend was astonished when I told him that Light was not all white.

  23. The American definition is of that one drop kind.

    Was.

    Two generations ago.

    And even then was full of exceptions and loopholes.

  24. The children of slaves in the U.S. were slaves at birth. The children of free blacks were free (it may have varied by state/colony). “Octoroons” were people who had one black great-grandparent; but that usually did not govern their legal status.

  25. The only sensible line to take with all this guff is a combination of ‘so what?’ and ‘fuck off’.

    The desperation to find black achievement outside of sport and music is rather pathetic. Of course in the UK there’s also a desperation to find enough black people to appear in adverts and tv shows.

  26. Of course in the UK there’s also a desperation to find enough black people to appear in adverts and tv shows.

    They seem to succeed well enough. Rather, you’d think there was a shortage of whites.

  27. I do love this kind of reasoning…

    Should I start writing to Frau Merkel to give back the ancestral lands of Mecklenburg to me and mine, given that it was taken from my ancestors in religious persecution and expansionist motives?

    And yes, by all rules past and present, I am a Went, so gimme….

  28. You miss my point. Someone with 8 white great grandparents could not be a slave. One with one black one could be. That’s quite a dividing line.

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