Harry & Meghan On Oprah
An opinion on everyone giving their opinion about the interview that rocked the world
A case for the truth by the media, the public, and everything in between
I grew up in London. Because England was my dad’s first diplomatic mission, I spent a good chunk of my toddler years on 95 Platts Lane. My parents have dined at Buckingham Palace, donned in ball gowns and tailcoats. I’m from a commonwealth country so there’s always been a sort of linkage and macro-level nostalgia between my country and the UK, more so than with any other western country. I’m probably more fluent in British culture than most Americans. I also lived in America for many years so I understand American culture better than many Brits. And I’m a black woman so I’m very attuned to racism, misogyny, and xenophobia. Side note: it’s prevalent in every country.
Listening to the Duchess tell Oprah her experiences was very painful. And like many black people will agree, it wasn’t that shocking. Black people know racism, discrimination and implicit bias so well, one would think we authored it. What many non-black people may fail to grasp though, is that in this age, issues of race are so nuanced and fine that it’s practically undetectable to the uneducated eye. But it’s still there. Racism permeates every aspect of our life. It’s an unavoidable reality and we don’t have the privilege of casting race aside in our day-to-day.
This think piece isn’t about the credibility of Meghan Markle’s claims. There’s been enough of that this week. For the record, I happen to believe her. I believe she shared her truth. I don’t think the validity of her experience is in question. Everything she said just revealed an urgent need for a systemic change in racism and destigmatizing mental illness, by the press, the royal institution, and society.
That being said, I’m not “on Meghan’s side” so to speak. Not in the way you presume I’d be, as a young black woman, or as someone who spends a lot of time online. I’m able to believe her, listen to someone else who takes an opposing view, and still not adopt “a side”. All three factors can co-exist without contradicting each other. It’s time to stop treating each other like it’s a zero-sum game.
The Sussexes spoke their truth from their personal experience. There is also Queen Elizabeth’s statement where she succinctly expressed her position on the claims and plans to move forward. The Queen and the royal family’s truths are valid too and we can consider both points of view equally without diminishing the other. There don’t have to be “sides” that we are compelled to take. We are not 12-year-old school children and this is not a playground.
So why are we behaving like we are with our vitriolic reactions to the interview? Perhaps it would do us some good to take our time with our critiques and fiery reactions before sharing them with the world. We’re quick to take our fingertips to the keyboard because the internet and social media have inflamed our primal need to be right and to be first.
So here’s something to contemplate: it’s possible not to take sides. It’s possible not to have an opinion, even when everyone around you is quick to claim theirs.
I know, shocking right?
When have you ever convinced anyone of your opinion by shouting and condemning them… especially on the internet?
Even before CBS aired Oprah’s interview of Harry and Meghan on Sunday, March 7, 2021, people were divided. It was Team Sussex vs the British royal family vs the British press vs the British public vs the American public vs everyone else. People were divided by race, class, age, political affiliation, and even what side of the Atlantic they live on. It was exhausting.
Then the interview aired and all hell broke loose on the interwebs. Twitter was up in arms. #abolishthemonarchy was trending. Piers Morgan almost popped a vein on Good Morning Britain and has subsequently quit the show over the public outcry about his polarizing opinions. American journalists, talk shows, and celebrities have all very generously donated their opinion.
Throughout the week I watched both sides of the argument from both sides of the Atlantic. It’s interesting to see how the narrative has been framed from different media outlets and I’m not surprised. Former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly deduced that most left-leaning camps have been pro-Meghan while the conservatives have held a less sympathetic view. In the USA, liberal-leaning media such as The Late Show and The View clearly supported the Sussexes claims and quickly admonished the palace institution, “The Firm”.
Across the pond in the UK, the division has also been influenced by age and generation. Royal editor, Russell Myers, described in an interview how the younger population has been more supportive of the couple whilst the older demographic, who are more likely to be staunch royalists, have sympathized with the palace. The demographic is a concern because the monarchy needs the support of the younger generation, for it to stay relevant and backed by the British public going forward.
A difference of opinion doesn’t have to mean a deterioration of conversation
There is your truth and there is my truth. As for the universal truth, it does not exist. — Amish Tripathi
My spin on Tripathi’s quote is: I have two ears. My right ear can hear one side and my left ear can hear the other side. Either ear does not cancel out the other.
If there was just one possible side to an argument or a gospel truth, then by default, arguments wouldn’t exist in the first place. This belief doesn’t negate or contradict my support of the Duke and Duchess or my being a lifelong fan of the Queen and the royal family. We need to be careful that we’re becoming active participants in building a society that says one side needs to be canceled so the other side can speak. We need to caution that because true progress and deep-rooted systemic change cannot occur without participation from all sides.
Progress always begins with a conversation. We can’t have a conversation if we’ve annihilated the other side before they’ve even opened their mouth to speak.
Regarding opinions: everybody has them. Everyone is entitled to them. I believe in free speech, the right to have and share an opinion. In reality, people don’t need to hear our opinions all the time because I don’t think our opinions are always sound. Education trumps opinions and if we spent more time educating ourselves we could reduce the adverse consequences and vitriol that our opinions sometimes garner.
In the case of searching for the truth and the deterioration of conversation as we once knew it, remember you’re not in 4th-grade gym class anymore. You don’t have to pick a team.