Prince Harry’s “Unconscious Bias” Comment Was Jarring — Here’s Why

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It is considered the most sensational interview since Princess Diana's Panorama bombshell 26 years ago. Last night, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's sit-down with talk show host Oprah Winfrey set Twitter ablaze, sent group chats sparking and left royal aides silenced. The primetime ITV interview revealed Harry and Meghan's broken relationship with "racist" Britain, the royal family and the press, while highlighting Meghan's mental health struggles during her first pregnancy.
After Meghan and Harry revealed to Oprah that their second-born child would be a girl, Oprah probed Harry on whether their treatment was the result of Meghan's mixed heritage. His response was shocking but unsurprising.
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"No, just... the two of us to start with," he said. "I hadn't really thought about the mixed-race piece because I thought, well...well, firstly, you know, I've spent many years doing the work and doing my own learning. But my upbringing in the system, of which I was brought up in and what I've been exposed to, it wasn't... I wasn't aware of it to start with. But, my god, it doesn't take very long to suddenly become aware of it."
Oprah then pushed him for an answer and asked whether this was related to his previous comments about not being aware of unconscious bias until meeting Meghan. "Yeah," he responded. "You know, as sad as it is to say, it takes living in her shoes — in this instance, for a day, or those first eight days — to see where it was going to go and how far they were going to take it...and get away with it and be so blatant about it."
Many praised Harry for his modesty and for his ability to look inward, but I found it jarring. Prince Harry, a man who once attended a fancy dress party in an SS uniform (he soon apologised for his "poor choice of costume"), is now talking about unconscious bias, something I encounter every day living in Britain. As a mixed Black woman, I know all too well about the systemic prejudices white people have against Black communities. We see it every day in headlines ("Prince Harry's Girl Is Straight Outta Compton", "Suicidal-Race Victim Meghan"). And during "debates", as we saw on Good Morning Britain this morning, in which Piers Morgan continues to invite Black women to discuss racism, only to ask them to prove it, and the constant gaslighting we all experience on a day-to-day basis.
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It also reminded me of all the times I had received messages in the past from white men on dating apps, who called me 'chocolate' or 'caramel baby', one even going so far as to call me his 'favourite n*gger'.

It also made me think of all the times I had received messages in the past from white men on dating apps, who called me "chocolate" or "caramel baby", one even going so far as to call me his "favourite n****r". Let me be clear: I'm not saying Harry is like them. I'm saying that his being some kind of spokesperson for all that's woke is difficult for me. Clearly, from his comment about realising what it's like having stood in Meghan's shoes, Harry would get it now. He'd understand how I feel to think back to white men who've told me they've never dated a Black person before and wondered how dark our genitals were compared to our white counterparts. Those men seemed to me as if they were hoping to "experience Blackness", that their proximity to it could prove their wokeness. 
"Listening and learning" has been a buzzphrase in the last year, notably after the world was forced to face up to its racial reckoning. But one thing is clear: no matter how well educated you are, white people in Britain still don't notice their racial bias and how it impacts people unless they are willing to walk in our shoes.

But one thing is clear: no matter how well educated you are, white people in Britain still don't notice their racial bias and how it impacts people unless they are willing to walk in our shoes.

Harry, despite growing up privileged, is highly educated. He's travelled all over the Commonwealth, the very institution that has deep colonial roots, met people from all different cultures, and spearheaded a mental health campaign that represented a diverse range of ethnicities. So why, in 2021, at the age of 36, has he admitted to not having recognised unconscious bias before dating Meghan, a mixed woman?
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I found his comment particularly significant and triggering because despite Black people constantly sharing their experiences with how racism and systemic racism impacts our lives, white people continually admit that they are "unaware" of unconscious bias. Why does it take almost 40 years for one man to suddenly realise that the world he is living in is geared towards treating Black people as inferior?

Harry's journey to wokeness just proves, time and time again, that white people need to do a little more than 'the work' and actually hear what Black people, specifically Black women, have to say in order to dismantle institutional and structural racism in this country.

Harry might be the newly crowned "Woke Prince" but what's woke about being acutely unaware of racial prejudice until so recently? How can we excuse it? He may be taking on one of Britain's oldest institutions as a prominent person within it, but he is not automatically a saint for doing so. It won't erase his involvement.
Harry's journey to wokeness just proves, time and time again, that white people need to shut up, do a little more than "the work" and actually listen to what Black people, specifically Black women, have to say in order to dismantle institutional and structural racism in this country.

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