Oversensitive or Racism? Harry and Meghan’s interview highlights the problems of trying to discuss race.

In a previous article I wrote about Meghan and Harry being Millenial Royals, that is Royals who in keeping with Millenial trends are looking to be more emotionally healthy than their predecessors. I empathised with the couple, feeling like many Millenials that it isn’t worth it to stay in situations that don’t allow for the life you want to lead. Now their interview with Oprah has left them labelled as Millenials often are, spoilt, whiney, overindugled. Are they being Oversensitive or are there real issues at play? Can the Royal Family really be accused of Racism?

Meghan brings up two issues to consider, Archie not receiving a title and members of the Family being concerned about how dark his skin might be. Is this what racism looks like?

Archie not receiving a title

The Queen as Sovereign decides who receives titles. She issues a Letters Patent stating what a person’s title will be. Meghan may have a point.

When Kate was pregnant with her first child, the Queen declared her children would be titled Princess and Prince, reversing the decision of the Queens grandfather that younger children of the son of the Prince of Wales do not have a title. When Meghan was pregnant with Archie, she was informed her child would not be titled Prince. What was the difference?

I am sure the Queen has her reasons. It is hard to fully understand why she felt that Kate’s children should be given a title, whilst Meghans children should not. Is it simply because Harry is not directly in line to the throne and the Firm likes to limit the number of people with titles? Or is it as Meghan hints that his skin tone affects the decision to grant him a title? It seems too far fetched. The Queen confers titles on people, the Queen let the wedding and procreation go ahead, and the Queen is definitively not the person who asked about the baby’s skin tone so it is unlikely that she cares that much. You would hope the Sovereign of a CommonWealth state wouldn’t in 2021 balk at giving a title to a black relative. I think it is just personal preference and maybe at some future date Archie will receive a title - if he even wants to use it. Princess Anne and Prince Edward declined the use of a title for their children and they seem to get along just fine without one.

In reality, this issue is not that controversial. By law, the slightly melanated Archie will be titled Prince when Charles becomes King.

But what if he’s dark?

The second issue mentioned regarding race was the idea that members of the Royal Family had questioned what the Sussexes would do if the child’s skin was dark.

I don’t believe any real harm was meant by such questions. The number of odd comments or ideas one hears as a person of color, I am not condoning it or saying it is acceptable but it is not a strange phenomenon to be asked about your babies skin tone or hair or accent or interests etc etc. It is often unwelcome but I wouldn’t consider it particularly racist. It can be “awkward” as Harry himself termed it in the interview, but it tends to be ignorant rather than racist.

I wouldn’t discount their experience however. Only the person asking such questions can honestly say whether they hold bias or not. I have asked questions that could be taken offence at but are genuinely questions borne from curiousity. Wanting to sincerely know about a persons traditional dress or a ritual they perform at a wedding does not make you a racist. But like many people of colour I have also met those who use such questions to be subtly racist and condescending. Especially in Europe subtler forms of racism are all the rage.

Should a white person be concerned that a relative will be a darker shade than what they are used to? Asking such a question speaks to the historical treatment of black people, it should be a cause of shame not elitism that someone even has to ask such a question. If the birth of a darker child helps the less woke members of a family realise they are slightly racist then so be it. It is social progress for the family and the wider population.

And now…

“In the months when I was pregnant…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’s born,” Meghan said.

“It was really hard to see those as compartmentalized conversations,” she said.

As a person of color you notice racism in most of its forms, and you somewhat find a way to live with it. Sometimes when you mention the types of racism you encounter people try to silence you as it makes them wary, uncomfortable, incredulous, unable to see it. Living with the reality of being constantly scrutinised and your actions reduced to your appearance can make you develop a sort of heightened racism antenna that can yes spill into paranoia and then the only thing you can see is race. Because of this people want to act as if racism isn’t occuring but it is still there, even at the times when you wrongly call it out.

An act like denying you a title or a promotion can be a way of ‘putting you in your place’. The inferior place they believe people of color should occupy!! I don’t believe the Royal Family is particularly racist.

My belief is people of color are allowed to be overzealous about race given the antiblack environment they grow up in. Meghan has been subjected to racist articles and threats, comments from journalists they would never make to white women but this is part of what the press does, they go for the jugular. My sympathies are with anyone having to deal with fake news, lies, propaganda against them that does not tell the full story. This is particularly callous when race is involved. Yet with so many of us being anti-racist and more and more people aware of what is occuring, bullying and racism will hopefully become less of an issue.

I am glad they have shared their story. Moving into an environment where race can be discussed more openly and honestly is a good thing. People should feel free to share their frustrations or opinions on race. Society moves to be less racist and confronting its fears and ideas about race continues to help us lift each other up to a better place and to a better standard. It can be awkward to talk about race, but the more we push through and just say how we feel about it, the more we can confront it and move on.

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Abbie T

Abbie T

Writer/Content Creator

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