Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Call to End Structural Racism With Powerful Message

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle marked the start of Black History Month in the U.K. by sitting down for an interview with the Evening Standard and by writing an article for the newspaper.

By Elyse Dupre Oct 01, 2020 3:04 PMTags
Watch: Prince Harry & Meghan Markle Call to End Structural Racism

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are fighting for equality.

To mark the start of the U.K.'s Black History Month, which is celebrated in October, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex penned an article for the Evening Standard calling for an end to structural racism.

"As we look at society today, there has been unquestionable progress in the three decades since Black History Month was formally established in the UK, yet in many ways sufficient progress has not been achieved," they wrote. "For as long as structural racism exists, there will be generations of young people of color who do not start their lives with the same equality of opportunity as their white peers. And for as long as that continues, untapped potential will never get to be realized."

They also addressed representation. "If you are white and British, the world you see often looks just like you—on TV, in media, in the role models celebrated across our nation. That is not a criticism; it's reality," the couple continued. "Many recognize this, but others are not aware of the effect this has on our own perspective, our own bias, but also the effect it has on young people of color. For people of color and specifically for young Black Britons, the importance of representation in all parts of society, of seeing role models that share the same color skin as them, and seeing and reading stories of success and of hope from those who look like them, is absolutely vital in opening doors of opportunity."

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In addition, they noted that "representation in positions of power and decision-making is necessary—because that's how equity and opportunity are translated from words to action."

Watch: Prince Harry & Meghan Markle's New Home Sneak Peek

Besides penning the piece, Harry and Meghan sat down for an interview with the Evening Standard

"Truth be told, and I was in the U.K. for a few years before we moved back here, I didn't realize that there was a Black History Month in Britain," Meghan said. "And so, to have that brought to our attention was really exciting I think from a standpoint of everything that's going on in the world but mostly just because it's about celebrating community. And really, we're celebrating all of the individuals who are making an incredible impact within our community and what a great thing to be a part of."

The couple also released their list of "BHM NextGen Trailblazers," a group of leaders who were recognized for their fights against prejudice and for their positive influence on British society. According to the newspaper, the individuals were nominated by high-profile figures, including rugby star Maro Itoje and British Vogue editor Edward Enninful, and inspired Harry and Meghan with their work. In addition, each honoree were asked to identify another member of the Black community whose work has had a lasting impact on society. 

"I want to highlight those people that we either know personally and really find their work to be notable but also to ask them who that next generation is, who those people are," Meghan continued. "What it does is really just broaden the list of role models for young British people and people abroad who are Black or white or any other color for that matter."

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At one point during the interview, Harry and Meghan were asked about the project's significance amid the Black Lives Matter movement and global protests.

"For me, it's awareness and it's education and it's teaching," Harry replied. "I've had an awakening of such of my own because I wasn't aware of so many of the issues and so many of the problems within the U.K. but also globally, as well. I did and I didn't. This isn't about pointing the finger; this isn't about blaming anybody. This is just about using this opportunity, this month, as I said, to introduce Brits to other Brits that they might not know about or they might not have heard about. I think the power of community that comes from that is absolutely vast, especially for young Black men and young Black girls." 

As Meghan added, it just reminds "people of our shared humanity."

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As royal admirers will recall, Harry and Meghan stepped back as senior members of the royal family earlier this year and have been living in California. During the interview, they were asked about the Black Lives Matter movement in the U.K. and if being in the U.S. has given them a different perspective on it.

"The impetus is for a place of recognizing equality," the mom of 17-month-old Archie Harrison said. "And if you just go back to its ground level of that, then I don't think there is anything controversial about it." 

She then recalled a conversation she had with Black Lives Matter co-creator Alicia Garza following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police

"As she can reiterate, the impetus is really just about reminding people of your worth," Meghan added. "And I think, you know, as we've seen different iterations of it, what has been inflammatory I think for a lot of people is when any version of a community becomes disruptive. But when there's just peaceful protests and when there's the intention of just wanting unity and wanting the recognition of equality, then that is a beautiful thing, actually." 

Also, driving change isn't always easy. "While it has been challenging for a lot of people certainly in having to make this reckoning of historical significance that has gotten people to the place that they are, that's uncomfortable for people," she added. "And we recognize that. It's uncomfortable for us. And I think when everyone just starts to own that, we push through that and we focus on how do we make it different moving forward? And if we just focus on the uplift and the positivity of that while still acknowledging the past, that's when we reshape things. And that shouldn't be inflammatory at all. That should be really exciting actually."

Considering their time away from the U.K., Harry and Meghan were asked if it was difficult to not be there while working on the causes they support.

"I think with COVID, my goodness, everyone has gotten accustomed to what it means to be distanced, right?" Meghan said. "So, the impact of that, whether it is across the Pond or across town, you're still, for the most part, through a computer screen. So, I think we've all had to adapt to how we can have the most impact and influence as possible within the constraints of what's happened with COVID-19."

Harry added that everything has been done through video. "Actually it doesn't matter where in the world that we have been," he said. "We have stayed in touch with and supported the organizations as much as humanly possible." 

And they remain as dedicated to their work as ever. "Like all of you, we are doing the best that we can," she said, "and hoping that, you know, our passion and our commitment is still felt because it certainly hasn't wavered."   

In addition to championing the causes they care about, Harry and Meghan gave a glimpse into their personal lives, including a peek at their dog and an update on their son. "We are very lucky with our little one," Meghan said at one point. "He's just so busy. He's all over the place… He keeps us on our toes."