Here’s the short of it: Jessica Mulroney, Canadian fashion stylist and longtime best friend of Meghan Markle, drew ire this week after threatening the livelihood of a Black woman.
When former elite athlete and global brand marketer Sasha Exeter posted a generic call to action on her Instagram story, encouraging peers to speak out against police brutality and anti-black racism, Mulroney, Exeter said, took it as a personal attack and lashed out behind the scenes.
“You think your voice matters,” Mulroney wrote to Exeter, threatening to jeopardize her future brand partnerships. “Well, it only matters if you express it with kindness and without shaming people who are simply trying to learn. Good luck.” (She also threatened a lawsuit via a DM.)
The backlash was swift. Mulroney lost a number of sponsorships. CTV, which airs her show “I Do Redo,” decided to pull the series from all its platforms. Cityline decided Mulroney would no longer be featured as a guest expert. Hudson’s Bay dropped her as their fashion and bridal specialist. Good Morning America just severed ties with her, too. And now Tracy Moore, Cityline host and self-professed friend of Mulroney’s, has spoken out, too, urging her fans to “believe Black women.”
“Let’s unlearn lashing out at Black women as a legitimate response to feeling called out,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “Unlearn privilege as a shield for your white fragility and use it instead to protect those who need it.”
“White fragility” is a term coined by the white sociologist Robin DiAngelo, who, in her 2018 book of the same name, wrote: “we perceive any attempt to connect us to the system of racism as an unsettling and unfair moral offense. The smallest amount of racial stress is intolerable—the mere suggestion that being white has meaning often triggers a range of defensive responses.”
In Mulroney’s case, these defensive responses were — as they always are, per DiAngelo’s theory — predictable: anger, fear, guilt, attempts to silence, attempts to withdraw from the situation. “These responses,” DiAngelo writes, “work to reinstate white equilibrium as they repel the challenge, return our racial comfort, and maintain our dominance within the racial hierarchy.”
Watch: Why can’t white people talk about race? Story continues below.
For Moore, these actions were especially disheartening. Her Instagram post explains how difficult it was for her to watch the situation unfold, given her personal relationship with Mulroney. The two have a history of working together — Moore is Cityline’s host, and Mulroney often appears as a guest — and Mulroney has helped Moore through some challenging times, in work and in life.
“And that’s what makes this so hard,” Moore wrote. “I am a friend. I am also a Black woman. The emotional labour often falls on our backs to speak up, push through and fight hard. The price for both staying silent or speaking up? Immense. Cue the extreme exhaustion.”
Moore also explained that this type of thing would be common in the coming weeks — that “friends and family members will show true colours,” and that checking privilege will become increasingly important.
It was just a few days ago, too, that Moore made a post about microaggressions. In an Instagram slideshow, she listed off a “non-exhaustive list of what NOT to say to black women,” and Mulroney, in a since-deleted comment, wrote to her: “Thank you for helping us see clearer. Although it isn’t your job to do it, it really does help.”
Naturally, Twitter has been rife with local responses to the Mulroney mess:
Some users questioned how Meghan Markle could be friends with Mulroney, though others pointed out the issues with such a line of thinking:
A number of users compared Mulroney to Amy Cooper, the Canadian white woman whose 15 minutes of fame hinged on a viral video in which she threatens to, and then does, call the police on a Black man for asking her to keep her dog on a leash in New York City.
Mulroney has since clarified that she has no intention of pursuing legal action against Exeter. “I’m going to take this time to reflect, learn and focus on my family,” she wrote in a post on Twitter. “I remain more committed than ever to support anti-racism efforts and will do everything in my power to right this wrong.”
How she plans to achieve all of this, of course, is yet to be revealed.
HuffPost Canada reached out to Tracy Moore for comment.