MEGXIT: Does the UK have a race problem?

Author:Masie, Desne

The decision by the British Royal couple, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (below) to leave the family and the country has rocked the UK to its core. What is behind their gesture? Is it a sign of the growing racism in the country in the wake of Brexit? Dr Desne Masie provides some answers.

On 8 January 2020, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, announced they were leaving the British royal family and the UK, for Canada. While the couple did not give reasons for their announcement--quickly dubbed 'Megxit' in the tabloids--speculation was rife that the intense media scrutiny that plagued their courtship and marriage was responsible.

The announcement also unleashed a storm of media coverage, including accusations levelled at British society and the right-wing press, that racism against Meghan, who is mixed race and American, had hounded the Sussexes out of the UK.

Leading the charge has been a social commentator on race issues in the UK, Afua Hirsch, who is mixed-race herself. Hirsch swiftly penned an op-ed in the New York Times on 9 January titled: 'Black Britons Know Why Meghan Markle Wants Out: It's the racism".

Hirsch said in her scathing op-ed: "If the media paid more attention to Britain's communities of color, perhaps it would find the announcement far less surprising. With a new prime minister whose track record includes overtly racist statements, some of which would make even Donald Trump blush, a Brexit project linked to native nationalism and a desire to rid Britain of large numbers of immigrants, and an ever-thickening loom of imperial nostalgia, many of us are also thinking about moving. From the very first headline about her being '(almost) straight outta Compton' and having 'exotic' DNA, the racist treatment of Meghan has been impossible to ignore.

If Harry and Meghan thought that announcing their exit would offer respite from the media attention, the opposite has happened. The attention on them has intensified and followed them to Canada.

Predictably, the right-wing Daily Mail newspaper has given free reign to Meghan's journalistic nemesis, Piers Morgan, to spill a torrent of apoplectic, bilious ink about Megxit since the announcement. Morgan, who is white, said that blaming their exit on racism was nonsense and furthermore 'libellous against the British people'.

The unhinged discussions about race in the media and society that have accompanied Megxit are unprecedented. This kind of thing--emotional...

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