Earlier this month, millions of people watched Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, which included allegations of racism within the Royal Family. This has amplified the conversation about racism against Markle, who identifies as a mixed-race woman, coming from both the British press and the Royal Family.
Despite this issue now being at the forefront of public discourse, the racism Markle faced has been discussed for many years. Sociologist Kimberley Ducey, associate professor at the University of Winnipeg, is the co-author of Revealing Britain’s Systemic Racism: The Case of Meghan Markle and the Royal Family, which will be released in May.
She and her co-author, Joe Feagin, hope to provide an “account of how Meghan Markle’s experiences as a biracial member of the Royal Family highlight contemporary forms of British racism.”
In an email to The Uniter, Ducey notes that part of her goal was to question “the long-held but largely anecdotal beliefs about racial progressiveness in the UK.”
“Markle’s marital union with Harry provides an exceptional opportunity to interrogate systemic racism and its accompanying white racial frame,” she says.
“For centuries now, Britons of Colour have been racially framed and considered by whites as more tolerable if they deport themselves according to white norms and framing,” Ducey says.
The research and writing process for this book began a few years ago. In particular, the wedding of Prince Harry and Markle in 2018 prompted Ducey to begin writing, due to the “reaction of some royals to the African-American Episcopal bishop Michael Curry’s sermon.”
“As this Black champion of civil rights spoke, the queen’s granddaughters, Zara Philips (with mouth wide open) and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie (donning matching smirks) were excruciatingly rude, while Kate Middleton side-rolled her eyes to Camilla Parker Bowles,” she says.
“The white-dominated media often drew on the myth of a post-racial and harmonious multicultural Britain to defend or excuse such ill-mannered racial behaviour,” Ducey adds.
Since the Oprah interview, this book has received attention in media outlets ranging from Time magazine to TMZ Live.
“We hope our book’s message will be heard within and beyond academic walls,” Ducey says.
“We are thus grateful for the interest our book is receiving,” she says. The authors have chosen to dedicate Revealing Britain’s Systemic Racism: The Case of Meghan Markle and the Royal Family to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Ingrid Waldron is an associate professor at Dalhousie University’s School of Nursing and an expert in health inequalities and mental illness among BIPOC communities, which are themes also explored in the Oprah interview. Waldron believes the Black Lives Matter movement is having a positive impact on academia.
“I am seeing a greater commitment to embedding (equity, diversity and inclusion) into curricula, programs and hiring in a way that I have never seen before,” she says in an email to The Uniter.
Waldron has also “seen an increase in talks/presentations/conferences and scholarly literature on racism by faculty and others across the country since last year.”
Published in Volume 75, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 24, 2021)