"However, after watching this clip, I came to realize that this new social grace hasn’t been so equally given to individuals in prominent leadership."
It was Saturday morning. I was coming from my son’s flag football game and I was on an emotional high. I was very proud of my guy; he caught every pass directed to him (2 receptions) and he even scored a touchdown. They won their game decisively. In honor of his win, he requested to go to Chik-Fil-A to eat lunch, and to that I was glad to oblige.
As I waited in the line of the drive thru, which by the length you’d think the sandwiches were free, I took a moment to scroll through Twitter to catch up on the “happenings” of the internet.
In the midst of my scrolling, I noticed an interview clip of Megan Markle. Full disclosure: at the time of my scrolling, I didn’t know much about her. I simply knew what we all did. I knew she was considered to be one of the first women of color to be a part of the British royal family. And to be honest, in my initial thought I supposed, “That might be a tough experience.”
Needless to say (and sad that I even have to say), she’s more than that.
I would go on to learn that she’s a 38-year-old woman who was raised in Los Angeles, California. Her parents divorced when she was 6, she’s estranged from her paternal half-siblings; thus, it “seems” that she’s the product of a single-parent home. I’d also learn that “…in 2017, she announced her engagement to Prince Harry, grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, and she moved to London. She retired from acting, closed her related social media accounts, and started undertaking public engagements as part of the British royal family. She became Duchess of Sussex upon her marriage to Prince Harry in 2018, [and] they had a son, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor” in 2019. (Wikipedia)
It’s important that you keep in mind, that all of this was unknown to me, as I watched the interview clip. However, after seeing the clip, all of this brings a great deal of contextual clarity to her response.
If you haven’t seen it, here it goes… (courtesy of “All inOne Tube” / YouTube.com)
I sat stunned at the completion of the video. I thought a lot of things. I thought she was courageous. I thought she was in pain. I thought that God certainly moved the interviewer to ask that question, because she really needed to get that out. I sadly thought, somebody in the palace is not going to like this (which is a major part of the problem.) I also thought, that while she needed to get that out, there was a clear reality that couldn’t be missed.
It looked as if, she seemed to struggle with sharing it.
"Needless to say (and sad that I even have to say), she’s more than that."
Certainly, no honest person could act as if they couldn’t understand why she’d be hesitant. Without doubt, the conversation of mental health and mental well-being is as far advanced in 2019 as it’s ever been. There are countless advocates from all walks of life, who speak to the importance of seeking therapy, meditation, and removing the negative stigma from mental illness. However, there is still a place where this conversation hasn’t reached it’s healthy peak. Where you ask?
In leadership and prominence.
I think it’s wonderful that in this generation, my children will grow up knowing that mental illness isn’t something to be ashamed of. It isn’t something to scoff at and it’s certainly not to be minimized. However, after watching this clip, I came to realize that this new social grace hasn’t been so equally given to individuals in prominent leadership.
Nicola Brown penned an article entitled “The Shocking Truth about Leadership and Mental Health” for Skyword.com in 2016 (click the link here.) The entire article is profound; however, there was something about her accounting of women in leadership and the stigma of mental health for all genders that really blew my mind. She stated the following:
“One study seems to show that there is a strong link between job authority and depression in women. According to the study, women with job authority (control over others’ work) are more depressed than women without. Interestingly, the study reports that men with job authority are less depressed than men without. However, some studies have shown that men underreport depressive symptoms, often due to differences in gender role socialization. One way to interpret this is that men may be underreporting depression due to a problematic way of thinking about what does or doesn’t constitute “manliness.” Particularly at the highest levels in successful organizations, leaders are often expected to have a thick skin to withstand the cut-throat nature of big business. This could mean that men underreport depressive symptoms particularly when they occupy positions of authority. Indeed, Barnard points out that some studies have shown that in fact CEOs may be depressed at more than double the rate of the general public.” (Brown, N.)
I read that article, and I thought of the Duchess. Imagine, being removed from everything you’ve ever known, disconnected from your home of origin, and detached from all access to friends, family, and fans via social media. Imagine being thrust into one of the world’s most famous and socially scrutinized families. After that, then imagine being told how you must walk, talk, act, behave, and present. Add to that being a newlywed, a new mom, ending your budding career, and becoming royalty ALL AT THE SAME TIME?!
"I thought she was in pain. I thought that God certainly moved the interviewer to ask that question, because she really needed to get that out. I sadly thought, somebody in the palace is not going to like this (which is a major part of the problem.)"
I think it’s safe to say that if anybody is a candidate for not being ‘okay’ I’d have say she’s it. But, no one really cared.
Sure, this was always her reality; however, every question she received was about things like “how’s the baby?” Or, “how’s the crown?” Or, “how are you embracing the role of royalty as a woman of color?”
How were we so blind? So naïve? Or a better question, why were we so selfish?
It is crazy to think that this gentleman was really one of the first to ask, “how are you doing?” Or, “are you okay?”
As I think of Megan Markle, she brings to my mind others. Individuals who are HUMAN BEINGS and (like her) prominently known. However, these individuals are not known to us as they humans they are. Rather, they are sadly known to us as “what they do.” This pressure has to be enormous, and I (as of this writing) have a newfound mind to be in prayer for them as they spark my recollection.
In my humble opinion, Megan Markle is not okay, and we the public are complicit.
Your thoughts? Let us know in the comments.
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Kevin D. Jones, Sr.
Kevin D. Jones, Sr.