I think a lot of it has to do with Prince Harry’s statement coming to Meghan’s defense and specifically mentioning racist and sexist comments she’s received, that coupled with the defensiveness in this thread when ppl mention they personally feel her race has something to do with it is off-putting. In a class I took for graduate school about the intersection of economics, gender and race the professor stated the first day if you automatically become defensive in this class, it’s time to take a deeper look at your shadow and your own belief system- needless to say, it was a tough but rewarding semester! Additionally, I can definitely admit that due to how entrenched racism is in U.S society (I’d argue world-wide, but that’s another story), and how as a society we are just starting to reckon with it, we are much more attuned to subversive racism at the present moment.
I’m American, and a person of color, but have lived and traveled in Europe and can definitely say while I felt physically safer, i.e I didn’t think I’d be attacked because of how I look, I did feel an undercurrent of subtle racism in interactions with others. Small things like checking into a hotel and being asked: “your friend who is joining you, do they look like you?” Or in shops people making a concentrated effort to not touch my hand when giving change. etc., The worst was in Italy actually, one guy actually said to me, “you are pretty – your father is Italian and mother African? Africans do not look like you.” Or in Germany, “Are you Indian?” was often the first thing I was asked when out and about. No one was burning crosses in my front yard, but constantly being asked questions like that made me aware that my ethnicity was often the most interesting thing about me to people. Little incidents like this add up, which I think is the hardest part to understand. Racism is VERY uncomfortable to discuss, and I honestly think because it’s so awful, when we don’t experience it we tend to, often inadvertently i think, dismiss it because it’s too painful and uncomfortable to think that some people experience racially charged situations on a daily basis.
In the US, racism tends to be a bit more overt than in Europe, but it’s definitely present in Europe. Honestly, the most “racially neutral” I’ve ever been was Amsterdam. That is the difference being a person of color, you are almost always aware of your skin color. For example, a really good white friend of mine once remarked how uncomfortable she felt in an all black setting because it made her hyper-aware of how different she was than everyone else in the room. It wasn’t until I remarked LOL that’s my everyday life, that a light bulb went off for her. While the UK is diverse, especially in London, it is still a majority white country/group of countries, thus, most people of color will often be one of a few in their classes, etc.; That difference goes felt by all whether we acknowledge it or not, such as in the case of my friend. So in a family, no less such a high profile, historic and traditional family, where there is literally only one person of color ( at least openly acknowledged) that difference will be felt – whether we acknowledge it or not.
I think from the American perspective the issues of her being older, American, a divorcee, commoner/coming from a broken home are amplified by her ethnicity, in subtle and subversive ways. For example, some UK bees have said well if her skin was darker it would be more of an issue. I.e her lighter skin makes her more palatable- that is a subtle signifier of a racist society.
Harry’s statement is here:
Overall, I think this thread has been really productive and also talking about issues like this truly help change the world. I’ve learned somethings and I hope others have as well- go bees!