Today starts the UK's Black History Month, and Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are kicking it off by partnering with The Evening Standard to highlight Black leaders making a major impact on British culture with their BHM Next Gen Trailblazers list. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex also made their most forceful statement on racism in the UK yet, calling for an end to structural racism in a piece they co-authored introducing their list.
Some may question why this is needed, or why we think it is important. For us, it is about education and awareness. 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. 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.
Harry and Meghan also gave a joint interview to the outlet, with Meghan candidly reflecting on the UK's Black Lives Matter movement and whether being in the U.S. has given her a different perspective on it.
She responded, "It’s a different movement, I think. The impetus is from a place of recognizing equality and if you just go back to its ground level of that, then I don’t think there is anything controversial about it. You know, we had the fortune of talking to, very early on this year when the Black Lives Matter, [also] called racial justice movement in the U.S., was coming to a head after the murder of George Floyd, we spoke to Alicia Garza, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter. And as she could reiterate, the impetus is really just about reminding people of your worth. And I think 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 protest and when there’s the intention of just wanting unity and wanting the recognition of equality then that is a beautiful thing actually and so while it has been challenging for a lot of people certainly in having to make this reckoning of historical significance that has gotten to people to the place that they are, that’s uncomfortable for people, and we recognize that. It’s uncomfortable for us, and I think when everyone just starts to own that, we push through that and 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."
Harry also spoke about his own experience understanding his white privilege and racism more over the last couple of years. "I’ve had an awakening as such of my own because I wasn’t aware of so many of the issues and so many of the problems within the UK but also globally as well," he said. "I thought I did, but I didn’t.”
He added, "You know when you go into a shop with your children and you only see white dolls, do you even think: ‘That’s weird, there is not a black doll there?’ And I use that as just one example of where we as white people don’t always have the awareness of what it must be like for someone else of different colored skin, of black skin, to be in the same situation as we are where the world that we know has been created by white people for white people."
He said this is about learning and progressing, not shaming people for the past. "It is not about pointing the finger, it is not about blame," he said. "I will be the first person to say, again, this is about learning. And about how we can make it better. I think it is a really exciting time in British culture and British history and in world culture. This is a real moment that we should be grasping and actually celebrating. Because no one else has managed to do this before us."