Prince Harry, Meghan Markle explain why 'it's not enough to just be a bystander' during growing Black Lives Matter movement

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle joined the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust on Wednesday in a conversation about fairness, justice and equal rights in which the two spoke of their different upbringings and how they’ve recently worked to learn more about racism, despite Markle’s having experienced it firsthand.

“We can’t deny or ignore the fact that all of us have been brought up and educated to see the world differently,” Harry said. “However, once you start to realize that there is that bias there, then you need to acknowledge it. You need to acknowledge it, but then you need to do the work to be able to become more aware.”

Harry also acknowledged the existence of people and institutions that benefit from systematic racism, implying that the 54 nations that make up the British Commonwealth have played a part when reflecting on Britain’s colonial past.

“When you look across the Commonwealth, there is no way that we can move forward unless we acknowledge the past,” he continued. “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.”

Markle went on to speak about the passive role that racism plays in day-to-day interactions and how that might have contributed to the issue being previously perceived as less prevalent than it is. “It’s not even in the big moments, right? It’s in the quiet moments where racism and unconscious bias lies and ... hides and thrives,” she explained. “And it’s those nuances that I think is what makes it confusing for a lot of people to understand the role that they play in that, either passively or actively. But I think even more so passively.”

The death of George Floyd in particular and how that has sparked a growth in the Black Lives Matter movement worldwide has allowed both Markle and Harry to understand just how dangerous complacency can be when it comes to the small moments that lead to larger devastation.

“It’s not enough to just be a bystander and say, ‘Well, it wasn’t me.’ And that’s what I think was very much manifested in what you’re feeling from people’s outpouring surrounding the murder of George Floyd,” Markle said. “It wasn’t that this wasn’t always happening. It’s that it’s come to a head at a time when people just said, ‘Enough.’”

The conversation was part of an ongoing series run by the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust and young leaders from its network. Joining Harry and Markle for the special session were Chrisann Jarrett, QCT trustee and co-founder and co-CEO of We Belong, Alicia Wallace, director of Equality Bahamas, Mike Omoniyi, founder and CEO of the Common Sense Network, and Abdullahi Alim, who leads the World Economic Forum's Global Shapers network of emerging young leaders in Africa and the Middle East.

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