We all have those well-meaning, but slightly clueless white friends. You know, the ones who force you to explain that actually, you don’t have to say “African American.” “Black” is just fine. Really! It is! That’s what we call ourselves! Duchess Kate and Prince William were apparently those friends when their buddies Barack and Michelle came to town.
Before the President and First Lady’s visit to Kensington Palace, reports say that the Kate and William(’s servants) were scrambling to hide the “offensive” title of a painting hanging in the palace. You can probably tell where this is going. Via US Weekly, who picked up this bit of gossip from The Sun:
According to reports, the painting in question is by Dutch artist Aelbert Cuyp and is titled “A Page With Two Horses.” The landscape piece from 1660 is also known as “The Negro Page,” and features a black servant boy with two steeds.
While “negro” may not be great coming from a white person, it’s not NEARLY as bad as the other n-word, so I find this panic rather adorable, actually. What’s also funny is that Kate selected the painting (seen in the background of the photo above) from the Royal Collection herself, so clearly she didn’t have too much of a problem with it.
There’s also the fact that this just now became a concern for them, which tells me that no other black people have been in a position to see that painting. And, as my colleague Kelly pointed out, there’s probably a way higher risk of Prince Phillip saying something terrible than Barack and Michelle freaking out over this painting, and it’s not like locked him up somewhere.
William and Kate apparently had the negro nameplate removed and placed a potted plant in front of the painting to hide their censorship job because that’s clever.
I for one think this could have been a learning opportunity for all parties. Barack and Michelle would look at the title and probably not think much of it because, have you seen what they say about us in America? William and Kate would nervously laugh and awkwardly dance around saying the word “negro.” Then they would all sit down for tea and a nice long discussion about racism, microaggressions and the responsibilities of white allies. Maybe next time with the next vaguely racist painting.
Image via Dominic Lipinski/WPA Pool/Getty.