Prince Harry and Meghan Markle interview is an indication that racism is still being ignored and change needs to happen according to Sheffield women

Two prominent Sheffield women have spoken out following the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s explosive television interview with Oprah Winfrey – and say it is just a snapshot of the real picture.

Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 4:54 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 5:10 pm

The interview, broadcast in Britain on Monday night, raised issues concerning racism and mental health to attention as well as questions about the support shown for Meghan by the royal family.

Annalisa Toccara, is founder of Our Mel - a not-for-profit group dedicated to exploring cultural identity, black history and what it means to be a person of colour in Britain today.

She said: “The Oprah interview didn't surprise me. I expected to hear allegations of racism because the royal family has a deep history of colonialism. What is sad is the many parallels between Meghan Markle s treatment and the treatment of Princess Diana from both the royal family and the British press.

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Annalisa Toccara and Tchiyiwe Chihana.

“The British press is institutionally racist; 94 per cent of journalists are white and 55 per cent male. What we see displayed in the media narratives of Meghan Markle is a constant berating of who Meghan represents; a woman of colour, a Black woman.

“Time and time again, we see black people, especially black women, speak about the racism they receive and yet that racism is ignored or shut down by white people. I hope that the Oprah interview brings some change or at least highlights racism on a broader scale.

“White people need to recognise the privilege they have and use their privilege to make a more equitable society for all.”

Tchiyiwe Chihana, a writer and speaker who is involved with the likes of the Migration Matters Festival, said: “Denying that British monarchy is racist harms us all, as it is an institution that informs Britain's social, political and cultural systems. Until the Duchess of Sussex spoke up for herself in an interview with Oprah, the royal family has distanced itself from explicit racial scrutiny almost successfully.

Tchiyiwe Chihana.

“We've witnessed the inner machinations of bigotry from the lovenest of the media and royal family – from her family being hounded, to being shamed for the very acts that her white sister-in-law is considered a darling for, they failed to protect and shield their only non-white royal.

“It was only a matter of time before the Duchess of Sussex told her side of the story, which has exposed the racism within the royal walls to be far greater than many imagined.

“On reflection, popularising ‘unconscious bias’ may inadvertently have contributed to harming our bid to tackle structural racism as key racist public personalities have abused this excuse as a pass. As was the case when Princess Michael of Kent wore a racist blackamoor brooch to a banquet; Meghan's revelation that concerns were raised about how dark she and Prince Harry's baby's skin colour, several white media personalities excused that as ‘casual chat’.

“Being casually racist is acceptable by those who have the power to steer society's perspectives, and the media has been bold and explicit without much challenge. Racism is pivoted on the royal family's identity and practices. That is where the change needs to start from.”

Annalisa Toccara, the founder of Our Mel.

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