Meghan Markle Speaks With Wisconsin Victim Of Alleged Hate Crime

Althea Bernstein, who is biracial, was attacked by white men who poured lighter fluid on her and set her on fire earlier this month.

As Meghan Markle and Prince Harry continue to carve out their role in the racial justice space, reports surfaced over the weekend that the two have spoken with Althea Bernstein, who was the recent victim of an alleged hate crime.

Bernstein, who is biracial, filed a police report in Madison, Wisconsin, last week after she was reportedly attacked by four white men. The 18-year-old said that she was stopped at a red light when the men shouted a racial epithet, poured lighter fluid on her face and neck, and then set her on fire with a lighter, according to the police report. The incident is being treated as a hate crime.

Meghan Markle in March 2018.
Meghan Markle in March 2018.
Chris Jackson via Getty Images

Meghan and Bernstein connected for a 40-minute phone call on Saturday, thanks to Michael Johnson, the CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County, who was also on the call.

“Her and Meghan talked about the importance of self care and allowing herself to heal,” Johnson told local news outlet Channel 3000, adding that Meghan, who was impressed with the way Bernstein responded to the alleged attack, asked for Bernstein’s phone number to stay in touch. He also said that the Duchess of Sussex was interested in coming to speak in Wisconsin at some point.

Johnson said that the duchess “lifted” Bernstein’s spirits and that the two bonded over being biracial. He added Prince Harry joined the call for about 10 minutes at one point.

In a social media post on Twitter and Facebook, Johnson said the Duke of Sussex “shared that young people[’s] voices matter.”

Over the weekend, Axios reported that the couple were backing the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, which calls on advertisers to boycott Facebook until the social media giant stops making money off disinformation and works to curb the spreading of hate speech.

The NAACP praised the couple for getting involved and joining the fight against Facebook.

“We are grateful for the leadership of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in recognizing the importance of solidarity in this moment,” the organization said in a tweet. “Your commitment to truth, justice, and equality are appreciated.”

People magazine spoke to an anonymous source close to the couple who said that the Sussexes are interested in addressing online hate speech and are “working with civil rights and racial justice groups on it.”

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have refocused their efforts on the Black Lives Matter movement and protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police at the end of May.

Meghan spoke about the importance of the BLM movement and the protests currently gripping the country during a virtual graduation speech for her old school, Immaculate Heart High School and Middle School, in Los Angeles earlier this month.

“I wasn’t sure what I could say to you. I wanted to say the right thing,” Meghan said. “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.

“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,” she said.

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