OPINION: UK media has a racism problem


Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and their baby son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor meet Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter Thandeka Tutu-Gxashe at the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation during their royal tour of South Africa in September in Cape Town, South Africa. Tribune News Service

America has always had a racism problem. From the slave trade to Jim Crow, the country’s perennial mistreatment of minorities has manifested today into movements like Black Lives Matter to combat these clear injustices.

But even across the pond in the United Kingdom, racism still rears its ugly head. One of the sinister ways this racism is propagated is under the guise of harmless tabloid gossip, especially toward Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.

Tabloid journalism is a cultural phenomenon in the U.K. In fact, one April 2019 study from Statista found that the most circulated U.K. newspapers are tabloids, with the top four being The Sun, 1.37 million papers in circulation, The Daily Mail, 1.2 million, and their Sunday editions, 1.14 million and 1.00 million, respectively.

Though sensationalization is key in these papers, instead of dating rumors and pregnancy announcements, the biggest U.K. tabloids have resorted to blatant racism.

Worst of all, these painfully obvious racist sentiments have, to some extent, successfully sowed an irrational dislike of Meghan among a large swath of the U.K. population. A little more than a year out from her wedding to Prince Harry, she only stands at a 46% approval rating, similar to other British royalty with decades of baggage aired out like dirty laundry.

English media personality Katie Hopkins has been outspoken in her virulent disdain toward Meghan, recently calling her a “nobody” who “wears bad clothes” in a September interview. Is that really how she feels about Meghan in particular or does it have anything to do with the fact she has called immigrants “cockroaches” and tweeted that “Racial profiling is a good thing?"

The worst of these comments come from a distressing source. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s sister, Rachel, penned in a 2016 article that Meghan failed her "Mum Test" and has "exotic DNA." She also described Meghan's mother as “a dreadlocked African-American lady from the wrong side of the tracks.” It’s a scary thought to wonder if these sentiments run in the family.

Interesting enough, when the former Kate Middleton wed Prince William in 2011, there was not and still not this level nastiness directed toward her as a white woman. Even in a recent Daily Mail article discussing their fashion choices,  there is a clear difference in tone comparing the two princesses.

Kate, Duchess of Cambridge’s caption reads, “Jaw-dropping: Kate wowed at her April 2011 ceremony in a long sleeve gown,” while Meghan’s caption reads, “Basic: Meghan tied the knot with Prince Harry in May 2018 in a simple, pure white gown.”

Kate is a jaw-dropping wower, while Meghan is simply basic. The article continues with dismissive commentary about Meghan’s fashion, using words like “form-fitting” and “practical.” However, for Kate, her reviews are glowing as “always a lady,” “future queen” and “outside the box.”

Funnily enough, there might be a good reason for these seemingly disingenuous “compliments” toward Meghan in the article. She and Prince Harry are suing them, as well as The Sun. The last straw came after they published a private letter she penned to her dad without her permission in what Harry described as “campaigns against” Meghan.

To that, I say good. I hope that the U.dK. wakes up and realizes they are being played. U.K. tabloid media may not change, but at least there will be temporary solace from the relentless campaign to drag Meghan’s name through the mud.

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