In a new video first shared by Essence, Meghan Markle has spoken out about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, and the long list of Black victims who lost their lives or have been wounded emotionally and physically because of anti-Black racism and/or police brutality. She was speaking to the students at Immaculate Heart, where she graduated, and offering her thoughts on the injustice that she witnessed as Black woman growing up in Los Angeles and what’s happening still in America. She also encouraged the young women of Immaculate Heart to be bold in their advocacy, to harness what they’ve learned, and use those gifts to make an impact so that the next generation doesn’t have to live through the same bullsh-t. The full video is almost six minutes:
Meghan Markle is speaking up: â€œGeorge Floydâ€™s life mattered and Breonna Taylorâ€™s life mattered and Philando Castileâ€™s life mattered.â€https://t.co/i6jUpsya6s— ESSENCE (@Essence) June 4, 2020
"George Floyd's life mattered and Breonna Taylor's life mattered and Philando Castile's life mattered and Tamir Rice's life mattered."— Omid Scobie (@scobie) June 4, 2020
Duchess Meghan has shared a powerful video with @IHPandas Immaculate Heart High Schoolâ€™s class of 2020 for their graduation.#BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/BzUmfnKICb
It’s important to note that Meghan, who along with Prince Harry, does not have official social media accounts right now or a website, and so she chose to release the video through Essence first, as the magazine celebrates Black women and specifically operates to illuminate diverse images of Black women and their experiences. The Sussex team waited until Essence had posted the video before releasing it to other outlets, prioritising the Black female voice. This is smart, it’s strategic, and I imagine it was appreciated.
As for the timing, as she says in her address, she was… uncertain, she didn’t want to f-ck it up, and she was also scared. She was scared of being “picked apart”. Which is its own heartbreak – that a Black woman was worried about adding her voice to appeal for Black dignity because she’s been conditioned for attack. For the last few years she’s been attacked relentlessly by the British tabloids and these attacks have been racist, and they’ve activated racism in the audience. If she’s uncertain, and she’s wealthy, she has a title, she has connections and resources, we might begin to understand how others might be uncertain. But, as she goes on to add, our fear is secondary, tertiary, not even an issue, to other people’s needs. This is a difficult lesson to learn because we all inherently seek to self-preserve. And risk by its very nature is scary. I think we can all relate. And in this moment, I think many of us are asking ourselves what we’re willing to risk. And also reminding ourselves that what we risk is inconsequential compared to what Black people risk just by trying to live.
Meghan and Harry are currently living in LA. They are currently in America during a time of profound unrest, present in a country that is questioning its identity, challenging its status quo, and also, at the same time, finding ways to heal. This is the work they have always said they wanted to contribute to. And they’re closer than ever to a nucleus of change, in a position to be part of the leadership pushing for change. What, then, is the next step? How will the Sussexes mobilise, use their platform, and model for others what needs to be done?
As we have seen, perfection isn’t always possible. Mistakes can and will be made – and that’s true for all of us. So the way they address their stumbles matters too. That too can be an opportunity for discussion. I say this because Meghan herself worried about not doing it perfectly as a reason for her reticence. But what’s corny is also true: trying and falling is better than not trying at all. So if you’re out there and you’ve been thinking about what to say and what you can do, and you’ve been hesitating because you’re afraid of messing up, go in knowing that you probably WILL mess up eventually but that silence provides no chance for improvement. If you’ve been here, reading this site since the beginning, or near the beginning, you may have seen that we’ve tried to improve. In the past, as I have said, I have body-shamed, slut-shamed, I viewed the world though a proximity to whiteness as a non-Black person of colour and have written with bias and prejudice. This is embarrassing to admit and a terrible thing to face about myself. But it’s there and part of allyship is to call out past mistakes and then to do better. Over the last few days, I’ve heard from so many of you confronting your own blindspots and sharing the self-work you’ve been doing. I’m grateful to have this space for growth and I’d love for you to keep coming here so that we can work together.