While the coronavirus pandemic has put people around the world at a social distance, it didn't stop Prince Harry and Meghan Markle from coming virtually face to face with leaders for an important conversation about these historic times.
On July 1, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who also serve as the president and vice president of The Queen's Commonwealth Trust, joined a weekly conversation via teleconference with four change-makers—QCT Trustee and Co-Founder and Co-CEO of We Belong, Chrisann Jarrett, Equality Bahamas Director Alicia Wallace, The Common Sense Network Founder and CEO Mike Omoniyi and Abdullahi Alim, leader of the World Economic Forum's Global Shapers network—to discuss fairness, justice and equal rights amid the global Black Lives Matter movement and how to spur effective change.
In response to Omoniyi's comment about the need for humility from white people regarding their own behavior and what they need to learn in order to be allies, Prince Harry said, "When it comes to sort of institutional and systemic racism, it's there and it stays there because someone somewhere is benefiting from it."
He continued, reiterating Omoniyi's point, "We can't deny or ignore the fact that all of us have been brought up and educated to see the world differently. However, once you start to realize that there is that bias there, then you need to acknowledge it. You need to acknowledge it, but then you need to do the work to be able to become more aware."
Markle added, "I think so much of what we're seeing as well is that...it's not even in the big moments, right? It's in the quiet moments where racism and unconscious bias...lies and hides and drives. And it's those nuances that I think makes it confusing for a lot of people to understand the role that they play in that either passively or actively, but I think even more so passively."
"In people's complacency," she continued, "they're complicit and that I think is the shift that we're seeing to go it's not enough to just be a bystander and saying, 'Well, it wasn't me' and that's what I think was very much manifested in what you're feeling from people's outpouring surrounding the murder of George Floyd, that it wasn't that this wasn't always happening—it's that it's come to a head at a time where people just said, 'Enough.'"
As Harry pointed out, "For the first time ever, thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement, it doesn't have a single address, it doesn't have a single leader—it is a movement that has swept across the world that finally everybody who knows and recognizes the wrong in this for years and years, decades, hundreds of years gone by—that this is the moment when people are starting to be listened to."
Markle also summarized the human right at the heart of this movement. "We have to in this moment in time say, 'We're going to have to be a little uncomfortable right now' because it's only in pushing through that discomfort that we get to the other side of this and find the place, as you're pointing out, where high tide raises all ships," she said. "Equality does not put anyone on the back foot. It puts us all on the same footing, which is a fundamental human right and that's what we're talking about here."
As the conversation concluded, Markle told the group, "Growing pains are painful. This process is painful and it has been for a long time, but through that immense pain, what we can have tremendous faith in is knowing that there will be growth and that's what we're seeing happen every single day as all of you are out there campaigning, fighting the right fight, being on the right side of history and ensuring that we can get closer to seeing this truly as our past and not something that we have to revisit again and again and again."
She then expressed their gratitude. "We thank you and commend you for your efforts on that," she said. "It is inspiring for both of us to watch and to bear witness to and why we of course made the time and find it a huge honor to be able to have this time with all of your to have this time today."
In a light-hearted moment, she also laughed at her husband's quip that he's "aging" at 35 years old. "That's not aging!" she said with a smile.
As he joked back, "It is aging compared to these guys."
"The optimism and the hope that we get is listening and speaking to people like you," he said, "because there is no turning back now, right? Everything is coming to a head. Solutions exist and change is happening far quicker than it ever has done before."
"Back to all your points is," Harry continued, "we have to acknowledge but also learn from the past where people have tried to do something similar and failed for one reason or another. How are we going to be successful this time? Because all the clues are there. We just need this movement to be able to continue this momentum for as long as it takes and you guys are all leading that."
To see more of their conversation, watch the video above.