Mariah Carey and Meghan Markle discussed growing up as biracial women and the struggles of fitting in on the Duchess of Sussex’s podcast, Archetypes.
The episode, aptly titled “The Duality of Diva,” found Carey opening up about her itinerant childhood, saying she moved homes with her mother numerous times after her parents got divorced. While all that moving would be difficult for any kid, Carey explained how she ultimately felt caught between various worlds.
“I didn’t fit in,” she said. “You know, it would be more of the Black area of town, or then you could be, where my mom chose to live, were the more white neighborhoods. And I didn’t fit in anywhere at all. I remember being in school in this predominately white neighborhood where my mom felt comfortable, and I tried my best to feel comfortable. But this kid was in the hallway, and he said, ‘Mariah has three shirts, and she wears them on rotation!’ And it was true.”
The fact that the boy had even noticed prompted Carey to cheekily sing a little of her hit “Obsessed,” but she pointedly added: “In the world where you’re the mixed kid [in] a full-on white neighborhood, that’s what you get.”
Markle admitted this was a big reason why she wanted to talk to Carey, calling the singer “so formative” and noting that, even as a young kid, she could tell Carey was also biracial. “Representation matters so much, but when you’re a woman, and you don’t see a woman who looks like you somewhere, in a position of power or influence… You came onto the scene, and it was like, ‘Oh my gosh. Someone kind of looks like me!’”
Markle went on to talk about how being biracial, but light-skinned, often led to her being treated as neither a Black woman nor a white woman: “You sort of fit in between.” But Markle noted that the dynamic shifted drastically when she started dating her now-husband, Prince Harry, saying, “Then I started to understand what it was like to be treated like a Black woman. Because up until then, I had been treated like a mixed woman. And things really shifted.”
Carey added, “That’s an interesting thing, a ‘mixed woman.’ Because I always thought it should be ok to say, ‘I’m mixed.’ It should be ok to say that, but people want you to choose.”