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Questions of racism linger as Harry, Meghan step back

16 Comments
By JILL LAWLESS and LEANNE ITALIE
FILE - In this Jan. 7, 2020, file photo, Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex leave after visiting Canada House in London, after their recent stay in Canada. As Prince Harry and Meghan step back as senior royals, questions linger over the role race has played in her treatment in Britain. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)

When accomplished, glamorous American actress Meghan Markle married Prince Harry in 2018, she was hailed as a breath of fresh air for Britain’s fusty royal family. That honeymoon didn’t last.

Now the couple wants independence, saying the pressure of life as full-time royals is unbearable. And a debate is raging: Did racism drive Meghan away?

When Prince Harry, who is sixth in line to the throne, began dating the “Suits” actress — daughter of a white father and African American mother — the media called it a sign that Britain had entered a “post-racial” era in which skin color and background no longer mattered, even to the royal family.

UK Labour Party lawmaker Clive Lewis, who like Meghan has biracial heritage, says the royal rift shows that Britain still has a problem with “structural racism.”

“We can see it with Meghan Markle and the way that she’s been treated in the media, we know that this is a reality of the 21st century, still,” Lewis told Sky News. “After 400 years of racism you can’t just overturn it overnight.”

Frederick W. Gooding, an assistant professor of African American studies at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, said it would be “disingenuous” to claim race had not been a factor in Meghan's treatment.

“She was always going to be an outsider,” he said. “There was always going to be this barrier because of her race."

From the start, some in the media wrote about Meghan using racially loaded terms. One tabloid columnist referred to her “exotic” DNA. A Daily Mail headline described her Los Angeles roots as “(almost) straight outta Compton” and claimed she came from a “gang-scarred” neighborhood. A TV host described Meghan as “uppity.”

Meghan was criticized for everything from eating avocados — which the Daily Mail claimed fuel “human rights abuses, drought and murder” — to wearing dark nail polish, apparently an etiquette faux pas.

Morgan Jerkins, a senior editor at Zora, a Medium.com site for women of color, said that because Meghan was “an outsider, culturally, racially, and socioeconomically, she has been the royal family’s scapegoat.”

Others point out that Meghan is hardly the first royal to get a rough ride in the media. The press and the royal family have an intense and often toxic relationship going back decades. Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, was snapped by paparazzi wherever she went. When she and Prince Charles admitted that their marriage was in trouble, her private life became public property.

Diana was killed in a Paris car crash in 1997 while being pursued by photographers. Prince Harry, who was just 12 when his mother died, said in October he feared “history repeating itself. … I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”

After Diana’s death, a chastened British press mended its ways — a bit. The media left young William and Harry alone in exchange for carefully staged interviews and photo opportunities as they grew up. That practice has continued with the three young children of William and his wife, Kate.

But in many ways little really changed. Royal stories still sell newspapers and generate clicks. That has meant intense — and even illegal — scrutiny. In the early 2000s, tabloid reporters hacked the voicemails of Prince William and royal staff members in pursuit of scoops.

Younger female royals are routinely judged on appearance, demeanor and habits. Prince William’s wife was relentlessly scrutinized for years: dismissed as dull, accused of being lazy for not having a full-time job, and dubbed “waity Katy” before William proposed.

Still, Meghan’s treatment has sometimes seemed harsher. Last year the Daily Mail ran photos of a pregnant Meghan cradling her bump under the headline: “Why can’t Meghan Markle keep her hands off her bump?” Months earlier the same paper had described a pregnant Kate as “tenderly” cradling her bump.

British Home Secretary Priti Patel denied Meghan has suffered from racist media coverage,

“I’m not in that category at all where I believe there’s racism at all," Patel, who is of Indian heritage and whose parents emigrated to Britain from Uganda, told the BBC. "I think we live in a great country, a great society, full of opportunity, where people of any background can get on in life.”

But others say the media double standard Meghan faced is evidence that talk of “post-racial” Britain is wildly premature.

“Her treatment has proved what many of us have always known: No matter how beautiful you are, whom you marry, what palaces you occupy, charities you support, how faithful you are, how much money you accumulate or what good deeds you perform, in this society racism will still follow you,” writer Afua Hirsch, author of the book “Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging,” wrote in the New York Times.

That feeling was echoed by Hayley Oliver, a recent Virginia Tech graduate who wrote a college essay about how Meghan and other mixed-race women are treated in popular culture. She said Meghan had years of charitable work, including advocacy for women's healthcare and gender equality worldwide that preceded her marriage into the royal family.

“What about her in those roles?" said Oliver, who is also biracial and says she’s inspired by Meghan for the stances she takes. “When you see someone who looks like you. ... it makes it easier to imagine yourself in that situation or the possibility of where you could go.”

While Britain is by most measures less racist than it used to be, non-white Britons are still over-represented among the poor and imprisoned, and under-represented at the top of well-paid professions, including politics, journalism and the law. Britain’s 2016 decision to leave the European Union — a move fueled in part by concerns about immigration — was followed by an increase in cases of racist abuse reported to police.

Meghan acknowledged in an October interview that she had been unprepared for the intense media scrutiny she would get as a member of the royal family. She told ITV journalist Tom Bradby that before she married Harry, “my British friends said to me, ‘I’m sure he’s great, but you shouldn’t do it, because the British tabloids will destroy your life.’”

“And I very naively … I didn’t get it,” she said.

Unlike other members of the royal clan, Meghan and Harry have pushed back. As long ago as 2017, Harry criticized “the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments."

Now the couple has had enough. They plan to move part-time to Canada, withdraw from royal media-coverage arrangements and seek financial independence. The queen has reluctantly agreed to let them become semi-detached royals in order to avoid a damaging family split.

The racism debate will rage on. Writing in The Guardian, British columnist Nesrine Malik said she doubted it would have much positive effect.

She argued that the racism debate had become a “pantomime, in which everyone — people of color, tabloid journalists, TV hosts — is playing well-rehearsed parts."

“Britain’s conversation about race endlessly repeats itself, first as tragedy, and for ever thereafter as farce," she wrote.

© Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.


16 Comments
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Nothing to do with racism, though it's a convenient fallback for lefties when they don't get their own way.

The real problem is that Meghan thought she could waltz in and reshape the real family with her trendy Hollywood "values." But oddly enough, the Battenberg-Windsors haven't been too keen on this, hence what seems to be a seething battle between stiff traditional protocol and SJW flightiness. With the not-too-bright Harry being led around by the nose. And maybe Meghan just isn't cut out for the endless media scrutiny (I wouldn't want it either) when she's always been used to positive coverage in the past.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Nothing to do with racism, though it's a convenient fallback for lefties when they don't get their own way.

Really?

https://www.newsweek.com/meghan-markle-racist-texts-spell-crisis-british-far-right-party-780964

"In the texts, Marney gave a list of reasons why she doesn't like Markle. "She's a 'gender equality' t*** She is obsessed with race and her seen with [sic] taint our royal family. Just a dumb little commoner. Tiny brain," she wrote, adding "She's black. A dumb little 'actress' that no one has heard of. This is Britain, not Africa."

Marney then laughed off an accusation of racism from her interlocutor. "Lol so what," she wrote, when the other person called her racist. "She's a black American. Pushing their way to the top slowly slowly. Next will be a Muslim PM and a black king," Marney added."

https://www.npr.org/2019/03/10/701987112/inside-the-racist-online-attacks-on-meghan-markle

FOSTER: What the trolls are doing is they're exploiting these types of negative stories and fitting Meghan into a narrative, which is that she's corrupting this institution - this white institution fundamentally.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So when you looked at some of these accounts, especially on Twitter, what did you see? What did you find?

FOSTER: Well, what we found was that we took 5,000 tweets which contained anti-Meghan hashtags. We found that 20 accounts were driving 70 percent of the coverage. We don't know how many people were behind those accounts. We don't think they are bots because they all seem quite tailored, but they're causing a lot of damage.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

These kind of happenings drive the british royal family less and less popular.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Disagree, Alfie.

FOSTER: Well, what we found was that we took 5,000 tweets which contained anti-Meghan hashtags. We found that 20 accounts were driving 70 percent of the coverage. We don't know how many people were behind those accounts. We don't think they are bots because they all seem quite tailored, but they're causing a lot of damage.

So a handful of accounts putting out 5,000 tweets that probably few people even bothered to read, with the likely exception of a tiny minority of extremists at either end of the spectrum, constitutes a damaging campaign of racism?

I seriously doubt most Britons would care one way or the other about Meghan's race if she behaved like a royal is expected to. But she was trying to make it all about her and her Hollywood ideals, and that's what turned people off her.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I seriously doubt most Britons would care one way or the other about Meghan's race if she behaved like a royal is expected to. But she was trying to make it all about her and her Hollywood ideals, and that's what turned people off her.

FOSTER: What the trolls are doing is they're exploiting these types of negative stories and fitting Meghan into a narrative, which is that she's corrupting this institution - this white institution fundamentally.

Comedy gold. You just repeated exactly what Max Foster said about the trolls. Congrats!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I dunno and have little interest in the Royal Family in itself. However, the following does interest me

Meghan was criticized for everything from eating avocados — which the Daily Mail claimed fuel “human rights abuses, drought and murder” — to wearing dark nail polish, apparently an etiquette faux pas.

This shows the pathetic level certain voices are willing to go to brainwash people. This greatly saddens me, but they do it because it works. Rather than just royalty and their little circus, anyone trying to change the world in a way that challenges vested interests will get it the same way with both barrels.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

it’s their life...it’s their own choice!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Kryonstavic

Racism may not be the underlying motive for everyone, for some it is jealousy, for others xenophobia, for most I suspect it is a deep dissatisfaction with their own disappointing lives that they project outwards. Whatever the reasons, the level of bullying of that woman is incredibly disturbing. A quick glance at the DailyMail online comments section is sickening.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

it’s their life...it’s their own choice!

Yep. Just leave the luxury freebies behind.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

They can never be 100% separate from the royal family. He will always be the grandson of the queen, son of Charles and brother of William. He remains heir to the throne.

Don't understand why they had to make it all so public when they could have sorted it out privately first.

The media attacks have increased since their announcement.

Canada have moored a military ship near to the island where Meghan and son are currently living.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

From what I have read, she has indeed been the subject of very intense racist attacks while in England. I think that moving back to North America will be much better for them. As for Vancouver Island, it is very beautiful, the weather is relatively mild, and the culture is Canadian. What is not to like? (I have been there a few times and loved what I saw.)

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Nothing to do with racism, though it's a convenient fallback for lefties when they don't get their own way.

No, something to do with racism, as was pointed out to you.

Certain leftists see everything through the prism of racism, bigotry, misogyny etc. to suit their narrative, while certain rightists dismiss all of these claims outright to suit their narrative. Both are unhelpful. Your post is an example of one of these unhelpful narratives.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

It seems people love to tell the British that they're all racists. Its one of those ideas that people just seem to enjoy believing, like that we're all football hooligans and we all have crooked teeth and so on.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

It seems people love to tell the British that they're all racists.

Who's saying that the British are all racists? Nobody's even saying most of the British are racists. Just too many of them/us, like in most countries. And too many of them on freaking social media.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

When did criticism of Meghan and Harry become racism?.......

Perhaps when media/public suggested Megham and Harry were proposing to put there selfish personal interests before public duty. Then arrogantly insisted the tax payer foots the bill.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The British tabloids are a disgrace, they chew people up and spit them out, they don't care. I can understand Harry wanting out and wanting to protect his wife, as his mother courted the tabloids but they ended up destroying her.

They also need to help themselves. As Zichi pointed out, why on earth did they do it so publicly? They just lit the fuse and tried to run away from the inevitable explosion.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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