On Mar. 7 in the United States, and on Mar. 8 in the United Kingdom, millions of people sat glued to their television screens. At this point, I am certain that many of you know exactly what I am talking about, even if you were not one of those viewers: I am talking about Oprah’s interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
The couple has faced harsh criticism from the media throughout their relationship, but this interview with Oprah was a chance to clarify their side of the story. Although the claims made were controversial and many have questioned their accuracy, many were not surprised by the racism and seemingly immoral system of the British Monarchy that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry claim to have faced.
“In those months when I was pregnant, all around this same time, so we have in tandem the conversation of he won’t be given security, he’s not going to be given a title and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he is born,” said Meghan Markle in response to Oprah’s question of whether or not race was a factor in the treatment of their first child.
This reality has exposed the truth behind the institution of the British Monarchy. On top of the blatant racism of the media, highlighted by the difference in stories written about Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton, the monarchy itself seems to have a lot of work to do when it comes to racism.
“I went to the institution, and I said that I needed to go somewhere to get help, I said that I never felt this way before and I need to go somewhere, and I was told that I couldn’t, that it wouldn’t be good for the institution,” continued Markle, speaking about her mental health following the constant criticism from the press.
Less than 40 minutes into the interview, and already there was so much to unpack from Markles’ allegations. Not only did the monarchy contribute to racist sentiments and not protect Markle from the racist and sexist comments that the media was spewing, but the institution also valued appearances over her mental health, which was degrading as a result of that constant ridicule.
“I’ve spent many years doing the work and doing my own learning, but my upbringing in the system in which I’ve been brought up in and what I’ve been exposed to — I wasn’t aware of it to start with. But, my God it doesn’t take very long to suddenly become aware of it,” said Prince Harry when asked if he had considered the fact that Meghan Markle is of mixed race.
That point is certainly an important one, and I think for many of us here at Masuk it is one that must be explored. Growing up in a sheltered environment does not allow one to truly understand the difficulties that other communities face.
Racism has existed in our world for millennia, and unfortunately the challenges that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have undergone as a result of it are not surprising. But, in the future they must be eliminated. “Doing the work,” as Prince Harry says, to learn about racism in our world and what we can do to change it is something that everyone must do.
“The Commonwealth is a huge part of the monarchy, and I lived in Canada which is a Commonwealth country for seven years,” continued Markle. “But, it wasn’t until Harry and I were together that we started to travel through the Commonwealth, I would say 60 to 70 percent of which is people of color. And, growing up as a woman of color, as a little girl of color, I know how important representation is. I know how you want to see someone who looks like you in certain positions. Even Archie, we read these books and there’s this one line that goes ‘If you see it you can be it,’ and he goes ‘You can be it!’ And I think about that so often, especially in the context of these young girls but even grown women and men who, when I would meet them in our time in the Commonwealth, how much it meant to them to be able to see someone who looks like them in this position. And I could never understand how it wouldn’t be seen as an added benefit and a reflection of the world today. At all times, but especially right now, to go how inclusive is that, that you can see someone who looks like you in this family, much less one who’s born into it.”
Representation should be regarded as progress, not a threat, and the fact that that even needs to be said speaks volumes to how much still needs to be fixed. During this rekindled Civil Rights Movement, we have the power and the motivation to reform our society for the better. We certainly do not need any more evidence that racism is a continuing issue, so the only question that remains is if you want to be a bystander to inequality, or a part of the revolution for justice.