REPRESENTATION IN FILM

Why Some Never Want Us to Imagine a Black Queen

They prefer seeing Black women in positions of servitude rather than in power.

Allison Wiltz
Published in
6 min readMay 9, 2023

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Queen Charlotte in A Bridgerton Story, portrayed by India Amarteifio via Netflix.

Many people are clutching their pearls at the portrayal of a Black queen in Queen Charlotte in A Bridgerton Story, a fictional story created by Shonda Rhimes inspired by the history of Great Britain's Queen Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz who married King George III. Their ire is two-fold, inspired by some people's inability to appreciate the genre of historical fiction, where writers are free to take liberty with their writing, and others who hate the idea of a Black woman taking the reigns of a powerful empire.

Whether Queen Charlotte had a Black ancestor or was Black herself is hotly debated. Some historians, such as Mario de Valdes y Cocomnc, argue that her features, as depicted in royal portraits, suggest African ancestry. They also point to the fact that her ancestor, Madragana, was a Moor and thus a Black African. Others contend that Charlotte would be too distantly related to Madragana to be considered Black. This view of race is rather binary, as having a Black ancestor can result in Afrocentric features among Creole people. While some artists portrayed the Queen as having a darker complexion, other official portraits made her appear fair-skinned, and photographs did not yet exist to clarify such a discrepancy. Her physician, Baron Christian Friedrich Stockmar, described the Queen as "small and crooked, with a true mulatto face." The term mulatto is Spanish and generally refers to someone with mixed African and European ancestry.

Here's the rub. In the realm of historical fiction, it doesn't matter whether or not Queen Charlotte was a Black woman or not, only that the author decided to make her one, to settle the argument not for history's sake but for art's sake. So, when viewers tune in to watch Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, they will see actress India Amarteifio who has both Guanian and German ancestry, play the role of the 17th-year-old Queen. As a prequel to Bridgerton, the story follows the conflict surrounding arranged marriages and courting amongst the upper echelon of British society. First, viewers see Charlotte experience doubt, fear, and loneliness as she waits to…

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Allison Wiltz
Momentum

Womanist Scholar bylines @ Momentum, Oprah Daily, ZORA, GEN, EIC of Cultured #WEOC Founder allisonthedailywriter.com https://ko-fi.com/allyfromnola