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Jessica Mulroney Under Fire For 'White Privilege' Attacks On Black Influencer

Sasha Exeter, a lifestyle influencer, spoke out about Mulroney's threatening actions in an Instagram video Wednesday.
Sasha Exeter revealed on Wednesday that Jessica Mulroney, right, who is best friends with Meghan Markle, threatened her livelihood.
Instagram/Getty Images
Sasha Exeter revealed on Wednesday that Jessica Mulroney, right, who is best friends with Meghan Markle, threatened her livelihood.

Meghan Markle’s longtime best friend Jessica Mulroney is under fire after Canadian brand marketer and entrepreneur Sasha Exeter called Mulroney on her “white privilege” and threatening actions.

Exeter, who is Black, said in a nearly 12-minute video on Instagram Tuesday that Mulroney “took offence” at what Exeter described as a generic call to action she shared last week, as protests against police brutality and racism broke out across the world.

Exeter, a former athlete who runs the website SoSoSasha, said that she encouraged her peers and those with large online platforms to “use their voice for good and help combat the race war and what’s happening to the Black community.”

In response, Exeter said, Mulroney sent her “a threat in writing.”

The conflict has led to the Hudson’s Bay department store chain and the “Cityline” TV show cutting ties with Mulroney, while CTV has cancelled “I Do Redo,” a wedding-themed reality show that she hosted.

“Unfortunately though, one very prominent Canadian figure, who used to be an acquaintance of mine, named Jessica Mulroney, took offence to a very generic call to action that I shared on my IG stories,” Exeter says in the video. “What happened next was a series of very problematic behaviour and antics that ultimately resulted in her sending me a threat in writing last Wednesday.”

Exeter said that she is “by no means calling Jess a racist,” but added that the Toronto-based stylist “is very well aware of her wealth, her perceived power and privilege because of the colour of her skin.” Jessica is married to TV host Ben Mulroney, the son of former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney.

“And that my friends gave her the momentary confidence to come for my livelihood in writing,” Exeter stated, shaking her head and calling it an example of “textbook white privilege.”

Exeter, who lives in Toronto, said that she takes issue with Mulroney for two reasons, the first being that the stylist hasn’t been using her voice to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Not only does Mulroney normally speak out about causes dear to her, Exeter pointed out that the Duchess of Sussex is “arguably one of the most famous Black women in the world.”

Jessica Mulroney and Meghan Markle attend the Instagram Dinner on May 31, 2016.
George Pimentel via Getty Images
Jessica Mulroney and Meghan Markle attend the Instagram Dinner on May 31, 2016.

“During the span of about a week or so, Jessica basically ticked every single box of what a white woman should absolutely not do during the biggest racial uproar in history,” Exeter said.

Her second problem with Mulroney was that she “wrongly assumed” that Exeter’s social media callout was directed at her.

Exeter says that Mulroney blocked her and then wrote to her saying: “I have also spoken to companies and people about the way you have treated me unfairly. You think your voice matters. Well, it only matters if you express it with kindness and without shaming people who are simply trying to learn. Good luck.”

The entrepreneur said that it was mind-blowing that Mulroney would take such actions, and compared the stylist to Amy Cooper, the woman who recently called the cops on a Black birdwatcher in Central Park, telling the 911 dispatcher that she was being threatened by an “African-American man.”

“For her to threaten me ― a single mom, a single Black mom ― during a racial pandemic blows my mind,” Exeter added. “The goal here is genuine, transformative change ― not optical and performative bullshit. You cannot be posting that you stand in solidarity while attempting to silence somebody via text.”

Jessica Mulroney with Ben Mulroney and Meghan Markle in Toronto on March 22, 2016.
George Pimentel via Getty Images
Jessica Mulroney with Ben Mulroney and Meghan Markle in Toronto on March 22, 2016.

Mulroney replied to Exeter’s video in an Instagram comment, though it appeared to have been deleted by Thursday afternoon.

“I know we have different experiences. And that is something that, even in the course of a heated argument, I need to acknowledge and understand,” the stylist said in her response. “I am unequivocally sorry for not doing that with you, and for any hurt I caused.”

Mulroney then alluded to her friendship with the Duchess of Sussex, who has repeatedly been the target of racist treatment.

“As I told you privately, I have lived a very public and personal experience with my closest friend where race was front and centre. It was deeply educational. I learned a lot from that,” she continued. “I promise to continue to learn and listen on how I can use my privilege to elevate and support black voices.”

A screenshot of Mulroney's since-deleted Instagram apology to Exeter.
A screenshot of Mulroney's since-deleted Instagram apology to Exeter.

Things didn’t end there, though; Exeter subsequently revealed that after Mulroney posted the public apology, she privately direct messaged her.

Exeter came with receipts, posting Mulroney’s message on her Instagram story on Thursday.

“Here’s what happens when you call out someone with privilege and wealth. They publicly apologize on your post to preserve their image while privately threaten a lawsuit to try and shut you up,” the SoSoSasha founder said, providing a photo of the message Mulroney sent her.

“Liable suit. Good luck,” Mulroney said in the DM, likely intending to write “libel.”

Sasha Exeter
Sasha Exeter

In a writing over a screenshot of her direct messages, Exeter wrote, “After her public apology on my post yesterday, I received this via DM. Please take in the time stamp in green on the top left of the screen. Also, poor thing didn’t even spell ‘libel’ correctly. Sigh.”

A few hours after Exeter came forward with the lawsuit threat, Mulroney again apologized in five separate Instagram stories to talk about her “disagreement” with the influencer.

“She rightfully called me out for not doing enough when it came to engaging in the important and difficult conversation about race and injustice in our society. I took it personally and that was wrong,” the stylist said. “I did not intent [SIC] to in any way jeopardize her livelihood. We had a disagreement and it got out of hand. For that I am sorry.”

She signed off by saying that she will be stepping back from her Instagram and letting Black voices take over her account. She added that she had reached out to see if Exeter would also participate.

Later on Thursday, CTV, which airs Mulroney’s show “I Do Redo,” announced it would be pulling the show from all its platforms.

“Recent conduct by one of our show hosts, Jessica Mulroney, conflicts with our commitment to diversity and equality,” the network wrote in a statement posted to social media.

By Thursday evening, daytime lifestyle show “CityLine” said Mulroney would no longer be featured as a guest expert, and Hudson’s Bay dropped her as a fashion and bridal specialist. “Good Morning America,” where Mulroney was a contributor, also wrote today that she will no longer be appearing on the show.

Mulroney was born Jessica Brownstein. She grew up in Montreal, where her father was a clothing manufacturer and her great-grandfather founded footwear retailer Browns shoes.

A lot of her early work has involved bringing luxury brands like La Perla and Cosabella to Canada. In 2013, she started working with Hudson’s Bay to bring bridal retailer Kleinfeld to Canada; she’s now the brand’s PR director. She’s also well-known as a stylist, and has dressed Shania Twain, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, and Mindy Kaling.

She married Ben Mulroney in Montreal in 2008. The couple have three children: nine-year-old twins Brian and John and seven-year-old Ivy. Brian and John were pageboys in Markle’s wedding to Prince Harry in 2018, where one of the boys’ toothless grins went viral.

Neither Exeter nor Mulroney returned HuffPost’s request for comment.

In August 2019, Mulroney posted on Instagram in support of Markle, calling out “racist bullies.”

3 years of undeserved hate and abuse. It’s enough,” Mulroney captioned her post at the time.

Chloe Tejada and Maija Kappler contributed reporting to this article.

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