The Insidious Truth Behind British Racism
Meghan Markle, Piers Morgan and, Britons denial of their country’s racism epidemic
“I’m sorry, I don’t believe a word she says”, “I wouldn’t believe her if she read me a weather report”. That was the obviously not-“sorry” response from British morning show host Piers Morgan to Meghan Markle’s “tell all” Oprah interview; in which she disclosed her suicidal tendencies and concerns about her baby’s safety, among other issues. That same morning, Morgan would once again flippantly dismiss the concerns of a person-of-color when he walked off set while a co-host confronted him about his treatment of Markle. The irony was not lost that a man who couldn’t understand, or care, why a woman who faced staggering levels of abuse, racism and ‘othering’ would leave the Royal Family, couldn’t even bare more than a few minutes of an uncomfortable conversation before abruptly walking off — and then, just a day later, permanently leave the show he had hosted since 2015.
Morgan — who, this week, also chastised a female co-host over the length of her skirt — is the perfect encapsulation of the casual, insidious racism and sexism that permeates throughout Britain; a type of bigotry that is simultaneously subtle — deployed through dog whistles and tropes — yet unavoidably, obnoxiously loud and in-your-face. Part of the reason so many Britons are oblivious to their country’s racism problem is because their country’s most racist offenders are also their most powerful. The fact that so many of Britain’s worst racists hail from some of the country’s most prestigious, powerful backgrounds gives a sense of perceived legitimacy to such racism that just wouldn’t exist if we were talking about working-class men or women throwing around slurs and committing hate-crimes (though, it should be noted that the racism of the British press and other institutions can and does fuel such racial abuse).
It’s astonishing actually how confident most Britons are in asserting that their country isn’t racist. The British media have offered the blueprint in racial double-standards over the last few years; as showcased by the glaring differences between their coverage of Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle. Middleton, in 2017, was granted a glowing write up in the Express over an avocado she had, while Meghan was ostracised by both the Daily Mail and the Express over her consumption of the fruit. The Mail even went so far as to run a headline reading “The pregnant Duchess of Sussex and so-called ‘avocado on toast whisperer’ is wolfing down a fruit linked to water shortages, illegal deforestation and all round general environmental devastation”.
The same people who so assuredly assert their country as non-racist almost reflexively bury their heads in the sand as soon as the true, horrible history (and present) of Britain is uncovered
Meanwhile, upon the birth of the Duke and Duchess’s son two years ago, a BBC presenter tweeted a picture of a couple holding hands with a chimp and captioned it “Royal Baby leaves hospital”. In a sign of how accustomed to — and accepting of — racism the British population at large have become, in the wake of the presenter’s firing, many began signing petitions supporting his re-hiring, while his social media pages were overwhelmed with messages of support. It was inevitable that a country that had become so accustomed to casual racism was more outraged over such racism being called out than it was about the racism itself.
What’s truly staggering is not just Britons acceptance of their country’s racism, but also their sense of moral superiority and misplaced intellectual confidence on the issue; with so many white Britons confidently asserting that Britain is not racist, or is at minimum one of the ‘least’ racist countries in the world (a questionable claim, at best). Bare in mind that these same people live in a country where white people outnumber any other ethnic group by a margin of over 12–1 and, many of them likely have little-to-no day-to-day contact with people-of-color. For most, their experience, and understanding, of this issue is hardly illuminating.
Despite this, swathes of British people remain unjustifiably confident in their assertion that their country isn’t racist and, show steadfast opposition to any teaching of British history that reflects honestly the country’s troubling history with ethnic minorities — when BBC ‘Horrible Histories’ aired a segment exposing the true history of the British Empire, they were hounded for “trashing Britain”. The same people who so assuredly assert their country as non-racist almost reflexively bury their heads in the sand as soon as the true, horrible history (and present) of Britain is uncovered. While Britons love to assert their supposed superiority over America, it should be an uncomfortable wake up call for everyone that Meghan and Harry had to go to America of all places — a country with a well publicized epidemic of police brutality — to escape the racism and abuse of Britain’s most powerful institutions.