Dr. Herma Percy is a political science and international relations university professor, author, and political commentator on BBC News Radio, Derby, England. (Courtesy Photo)
The Shocking Truth Some May Not Be Ready to Hear About the Oprah Interview
By Dr. Herma Percy
I am a black woman. And I am deeply troubled and offended that a woman whom I have never heard identify herself as such, but rather by the elusive euphemism “woman of color,” has used the race-card to invoke sympathy and air the dirty laundry of her in-laws.
In these racially tensed times in the U.S., heightened since George Floyd’s murder and protests against structures of systemic racism, any accusation of racism is the quickest way to gain support, even internationally, from those of us who are already on the edge in this fight against racism.
Consequently, many of us are quick to believe every single word of Meghan based on our emotions instead of on fact check. Too many of us are not questioning the accounts from the interview.
Many of us are conflating Meghan’s story with our own experience of racism as if the Oprah interview was describing our experience in the castle. We see things through the lens of race because of the brutality, pain and suffering of our people.
But all of us who suffer under real systemic racial injustices should be cautious and concerned because it makes it even more difficult for us to be taken seriously with our claims when there are those in our community who ‘cry wolf’ for personal vendetta.
There are enough contradictions and inconsistencies in her story that lead me to question whether some of these claims are ‘emotionally engineered’ to smear the image of her own children’s great grandparents, their grandfather, their uncle and aunts, and lest we forget, her husband’s entire family — the Royal family.
At the core of this public grievance is a family.
It was evident from the wedding and Meghan’s father’s recent statement that she ghosted her own family and entered the Royal family with no relationship with anyone in her family, besides her mother, on both her maternal and paternal sides. Her pattern of estrangement, questionable family values, and poor relationship skills have influenced Harry. In the Oprah interview, Meghan said her father betrayed her and she also does not have a relationship with him or her half-sister. Harry also echoed the same that he is let down by his father and parted ways with his once close-knit brother. For more than thirty years, Harry with all the reported troubles with royal duty and family dynamics, was not estranged from his family until his marriage. It is important to consider that while there were no claims from them that the entire royal family hurled derogatory or racist comments at the dinner table or behind closed doors, they are still estranged from everyone, which is the lifestyle to which Meghan is accustomed.
This Oprah interview on the Royals was really an interview for Meghan’s grievances rather than Harry, the Prince. Even the format of the show demonstrated that, with Harry — the one with the royal bloodline and heir to the throne — joining the conversation well after it started, like a backup singer after the main act. It’s also not lost on me that during the interview Prince Harry looked like a shell of his former self and not the same jovial, easy-going countenance we are used to seeing of him. This change in Harry is consistent with Royal photographer Arthur Edwards’ observations more than a year ago, that Harry was no longer fun during his work but became miserable and difficult to work with after his marriage. I couldn’t help but wonder since he is isolated from any family in this new country he calls home, who are Harry’s friends in America? Where are his confidants in America? Sadly, this new place, and her home state, in which he finds himself estranged, is an all too familiar place for her, in more ways than one.
Meghan often speaks of support for women, yet without any regards that it is the under the reign of the queen, a woman, in which history will record this massive public upheaval and embarrassment. She is openly challenging a monarchy, led by a woman, who was making great strides as the longest reigning monarch in history and of 54 commonwealth countries. If I had a chance to question Meghan I would ask: Are you concerned how these public accusations undermine the queen’s progressive strides and charitable work, and even more importantly, her work with Parliament as she maintains the monarchy which has lost its governing power? Furthermore, is there any regard that your public accusations against the monarchy, led by a woman, could ricochet and eventually lead to the end of a monarchy struggling to maintain some relevance? Finally, when you were painting a negative image of your in-laws, is there any concern for your husband’s family— your new family — on whether they could lose everything? After all its British tax payers that keep the Royal family on that throne.
Meghan claims the Royal family — which means all of Harry’s cousins, aunts, uncles, niece and nephews, sister-in law, parent/s, grandparents – all missed an opportunity to promote diversity with the acceptance of her in the family and be a shining example into the 21st century. But I would dare say, she missed an opportunity to educate each of the Royals, one by one, of the breadth, depth, and heights of my people.
She exemplifies the pressing threat to the progress of the civil rights struggle in that this “Generation Me” who now has access to walk through doors that the civil rights struggle pushed open, when they don’t see immediate civility, they kick over the tables and burn the whole place down.
You see examples of that literally happening in South Africa with the burning of schools in racial clashes and elsewhere in the world we see Generation Me burning bridges on social media, in our churches, workplaces and even in this Royal family drama. They dismantle the opportunity to pick up the mantle from the forefathers and be the voice of change “within” the system. Instead, they cause the doors of opportunity to lock firmly behind them, shutting out other minority entrants, because no one wants to take the risks again after rebuilding from the onslaught.
Paint Brush of Alternative Facts, Exaggerations and Naiveté
Since the Oprah interview, pictures and reports surfaced the following day on American television in which it appears in some of Meghan’s claims, she painted an imagery with brush strokes of alternative facts, exaggerations and naiveté. The released pictures contradict the imagery she painted that she knew nothing about the Royals before she met Harry as well as there are pictures that conflict with the imagery she painted of her half-sister’s credibility. But more importantly, there appears to be some alternative facts in the imagery she painted of the entire Royal family as racist, when during the interview she said that “conversations” (implying multiple people) were had in the palace about the skin color of Archie when she was pregnant. Yet, when Harry joined the interview much later, he said it was only one such conversation and it happened before pregnancy, and it also became clear he was keeping it as a family matter and never intended to talk about it during the interview, but Meghan did!
It also became clear during the interview that they wanted the Royal family, after its first statement in defense of their relationship, to continually issue statements, over and over again, for every racist or unseemly media comment, and since the palace did not do so, they implied the palace is in and of itself racist. This is not only absurd, it is unrealistic. It was not a marriage out of duty it was one of personal choice. So my advice to them would be: You bear responsibility for choosing a mixed relationship and how you will navigate it throughout life. While you have choices, the rest of us minorities, even with less advantages at our disposal, have long been dealing with the realities of life. The negative public comments will be unending and you have to consider ways to deal with the ‘isms,” rather than shift that responsibility entirely upon the palace.
There was even the naive portrayal of the palace hosting the media during Christmas seasons to paint an image of the palace playing footsies with the enemies. But it is standard practice for institutions and governments to have a working relationship with the media that cover them. For example, here in the U.S., the White House hosts Christmas parties for the White House Press Corp. Some of this naiveté of a woman who is almost forty years old, could have been minimized if she had at least goggled her new job, which is an elementary practice for even a high school student going for a job interview.
The naiveté’ is also reflected in the comments made during the interview that Prince Charles and William are trapped because they give loyalty to duty than personal feelings. Regardless of all the faults of Prince Charles, we have to appreciate that he is loyal to duty because without it Harry would never have been born. It is clear to everyone Charles married Diana out of duty because of all the restrictions, at that time, from marrying Camila. If I had one thing to say to any “Generation Me,” who scorn duty, it’s that “Duty” is what keeps each of our lives committed to the good of our families, communities and our country. Many people out of loyalty to duty, give up jobs to take care of a sick parent, or work in miserable jobs out of duty to feed their children, even the queen takes an oath of loyalty to her country, and Harry, now critical of duty, shared this loyalty to duty when he courageously served in the military before his marriage.
In this interview of public airing of family problems, that value of duty to family was lost. There was no duty to honor the more than 1200 year Royal history and try to work out family and work problems behind closed doors, as most families do. Instead, they displayed a loyalty to self, not their family, country, or others. All mature adults will testify that this type of outlook will only get you so far.
First, for those in the black community that find the comment that questioned Archie’s color before his birth racist and offensive, then I would declare that we as black people should also stop doing the same thing in our own community. It’s called colorism when we do it! Colorism is commonplace in conversations when two people of different shades of hue declare they are dating or pregnant. It’s common to hear comments like “wonder what their children are going to look like?”
It’s typical to hear those questions if two really dark skinned people are pregnant or a black person with another ethnic group or fair skin black person. It is even commonplace to hear talks from some within our community that they only date people with good hair and fair skin to make sure they have really “pretty kids.” Furthermore, African-Americans are all too familiar with our past in our community of the brown paper bag test.
I personally believe the comment was really said to Harry. The long history of the Royals have been lily white so sheer ignorance would lead some of them to wonder, and racism could lead others to do the same. So we need to know the context in which it was said, so we can accurately and rightly direct our outrage at ignorance or racism!
This interview raised more questions than gave answers.
The queen’s one page statement in response to this drama ended where this whole thing should have started and remained for answers — in the “family privately!”
Dr. Herma Percy is a political science and international relations university professor, author, and political commentator on BBC News Radio, Derby, England.
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