Let’s talk about what we’re not going to do now that Baby Sussex is finally here. We are not going to critique or even passive-aggressively comment on Baby Sussex’s skin tone or his looks. Nope, no way. Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex have just given the world their first look at their newborn son and Twitter is already defending Baby Sussex from comments about his appearance as well as clapping back at potentially toxic takes published in the media.
It’s been a foregone conclusion since the day Harry and Meghan started dating that if they did get married and had kids, their child would be of mixed race. That’s simply how genetics work. Over the last three years, Meghan has endured unfair scrutiny about her worthiness to marry Harry with other, crueler arguments looking at her race as a particular curiosity.
Given all that and the senseless bullying Meghan has had to go through, it’s understandable that defenders and sympathizers are building a wall of protection, so to speak, around little Archie Harrison. Earlier this week, CNN writer John Blake wrote an analysis titled “Don’t use the royal birth to trot out a dangerous myth” as a way of arguing that we shouldn’t hold up Baby Sussex as a “Great Mixed-Race Hope,” or a person who is a symbol of racial unity which can border on fetishization. The thesis itself is sensible enough because we shouldn’t be putting that weight on Archie’s shoulders.
CNN needs more people of color working in the executive, decision-making ranks. Obviously. https://t.co/QJzfMXM5qk
— Soledad O'Brien (@soledadobrien) May 7, 2019
But Blake’s piece includes a sub-section titled “How black will the royal baby be?” which raised alarm bells for former CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien and Late Night With Seth Meyers writer Amber Ruffin. Ruffin first screenshot the sub-section and posted it to Twitter, writing, “Wut?” in reaction. O’Brien then retweeted it, writing, “CNN needs more people of color working in the executive decision-making ranks.”
Even if Blake’s argument is fair, the packaging of it is problematic and it raises the question: “How should we talk about Baby Sussex?” Well, for one thing, using coded or racist language to describe his looks and skin tone is dangerous and uncalled for. We all knew Harry and Meghan would have a mixed-race son and we don’t need to feign surprise or make comments about how his skin tone met or defied expectations.
Folks on Twitter have already weighed in with defenses on behalf of Baby Sussex, begging the internet to just zip the lips and avoid potentially toxic or racist comments. “It’s a boy!!! Royal congratulations!” user Rabia Garib wrote. Please spare the baby with the nonsensense [sic], noisy banter on ‘resemblance’, ‘skin color’ and ‘significance of names’! Let baby be baby!”
It’s a boy!!! Royal congratulations! Please spare the baby with the nonsensense, noisy banter on “resemblance”, “skin color” and “significance of names”! Let baby be baby! #RoyalBaby #Britain #PrinceHarry #sussex
— Rabia Garib (@rabiagarib) May 8, 2019
There is already a toxic curiosity around baby sussex.
"What will the baby look like ? Ginger ? Brown skin ?? What about his/her hair texture ???"
— Célia 🍃🇫🇷 (@_MrsWanted) May 1, 2019
The gangsta almost came out when they were bringing up the baby’s features lmao Harry is NOT here to play with y’all about his son’s skin tone, hair, or anything else! Harry bout to be like “Hold the baby while I thrust the royal ass whuppeth in this place” #RoyalBaby #BabySussex
— 💋AdamNewman’sWife🧡💚 (@tvbingequeen) May 8, 2019
Others celebrated Baby Sussex’s appearance as a way of pulling the focus toward the positive, which we’re all here for.
Baby Sussex came through with the Olive skin tone! Beautiful family
— Charon (@charonmay) May 8, 2019
— Savirah Lohn (@treandarielsmom) May 8, 2019
Commenting or criticizing Archie’s appearance should never, ever be part of the conversation as we talk about him in the coming years. Keep the negativity in your head and let the positivity out into the world. This is a child who will always live his life under the public’s watchful eye and will shoulder the burden of the British monarchy as he grows into adulthood. We have no idea what his life will be like or what he will be like. Give him love, just as his parents are doing now.