The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, in a discussion with young leaders of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust on Wednesday, spoke about Britain’s colonial past and the police killing of George Floyd, which has spurred worldwide protests against racism and police brutality.
The trust has been holding weekly talks with members and young leaders in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Harry is the organization’s president and Meghan is vice president.
The Duchess of Sussex spoke about what it will take to move forward and pointed out that growth will cause discomfort for some.
“We’re going to have to be a little uncomfortable right now, because it’s only in pushing through that discomfort that we get to the other side of this and find the place where a high tide raises all ships,” she said. “Equality does not put anyone on the back foot. It puts us all on the same footing, which is a fundamental human right.”
Meghan, who has in the past spoken about her experiences with racism, called the rising anti-racism movement a “moment of reckoning.”
“In people’s complacency, they’re complicit. And that I think is the shift that we’re seeing,” the duchess said.
“It’s not enough to just be a bystander, and say ‘Well it wasn’t me.’ And that’s what I think what was very much manifested in what you’re feeling from people’s outpouring surrounding the murder of George Floyd. It wasn’t that this wasn’t always happening ― it’s that it’s come to a head when people have said ‘enough.’”
Meghan also encouraged those on the call to beware of racism outside of the “big moments.”
“It’s in the quiet moments where racism and unconscious bias lies and thrives,” she said. “It makes it confusing for a lot of people to understand the role that they play in that, both passively and actively.”
The duke addressed the colonial past of the British commonwealth, which is comprised of 54 nations, many of which are former colonies of the British Empire.
“There is no way that we can move forward unless we acknowledge the past,” Harry said.
“So many people have done such an incredible job of acknowledging the past and trying to right those wrongs, but I think we all acknowledge there is so much more still to do,” he added. “It’s not going to be easy and in some cases it’s not going to be comfortable, but it needs to be done, because guess what, everybody benefits.”
Both Meghan and Harry have spoken out about racism and the Black Lives Matter movement since the May killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis.
“I wasn’t sure what I could say to you,” Meghan said during a graduation address last month recorded for students at her old school, Immaculate Heart High School and Middle School in Los Angeles. “I wanted to say the right thing. And I was really nervous that I wouldn’t, or that it would get picked apart, and I realized, the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing.”
She continued: “Because George Floyd’s life mattered, and Breonna Taylor’s life mattered, and Philando Castile’s life mattered, and Tamir Rice’s life mattered, and so did so many other people whose names we know and whose names we do not know. Stephon Clark. His life mattered.”