How racism contributed to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's recent decision.
Posted Jan 13, 2020
As a psychotherapist specializing in multicultural issues, I sometimes get asked to speak about issues of race and ethnicity to colleges, businesses, and other organizations. On some of these trips, naive individuals have quizzically asked me if racism still exists. When I explain that racism is definitely still an issue, they express shock, as if they haven't seen it in their communities.
But therein lies the rub. If you're not an ethnic minority or have friends who are minorities, you stand the chance of being isolated from the untold times in which minorities experience both covert and overt forms of racism, prejudice, or negative judgments from a white majority.
But this past week, few could ignore the international shock waves sent by Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, when they announced they would be "stepping back" from royal duties, splitting their time between Britain and North America, and seeking to become financially independent.
For black people living in Britain, the announcement validated their concerns about racism reaching the upper echelon of royalty. In their opinion, no matter your position, whom you marry, what good will you support, racism will be an integral part of society. With Megan Markle, it was no different and there's relief among some in Britain that the couple finally stood up against oppression.
"Nobody should tolerate bullying and abusive behavior because of the color of their skin," Sanaa Edness, an immigrant from the Caribbean to Britain told the New York Times. Edness added that she'd experienced similar racism herself while living in England.
So what kind of racism did Markle experience? Here are just a few of the more egregious instances public display:
- Rachel Johnson, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's sister, commented that Markle had "rich and exotic DNA" and described her mother as, “a dreadlocked African American lady from the wrong side of the tracks who lives in LA.”
- A BBC commentator tweeted an image of Meghan and Harry holding hands with a chimpanzee and joked that it was their son.
- The Daily Mail headline "Harry's girl is (almost) straight outta Compton". The story featured crimes that took place near Markle's childhood home while listing all the street gangs known to operate in the area. Some felt it was a reminder of the socioeconomic and ethnic differences between Markel and Prince Harry.
- The Daily Mail published a story with this headline, "Now that's upwardly mobile! How in 150 years, Meghan Markle's family went from cotton slaves to royalty."
These are overt instances of racism. The highly visible shakeup of the Royal Monarchy should be a reminder to us all that racism is alive and well no matter how much some may try to turn a blind eye to it.