Prince Harry and Meghan have already made it clear that campaigning for racial justice will be key part of their work moving forward. And now the Prince has shared some of his most personal reflections on racism in a discussion with Black Lives Matter activist and protest hero Patrick Hutchinson.
The Duke of Sussex took part in a discussion with Patrick as part of British GQ’s content for Black History Month and for their Heroes series in which they recognize the best of Britain. They discussed the Black Lives Matter movement, fatherhood, mental health, and more for almost 40 minutes. Harry described how “ignorance is no longer an excuse” for unconscious bias but reflected that it took him many years to realize what it was. He said it was “living a day of a week in my wife’s shoes” that made him especially aware of the issue.
“Unconscious bias, from my understanding, you know, having had the upbringing and the education that I had, I had no idea what it was. I had no idea it existed,” said the Prince. “And then, sad as it is to say, it took me many, many years to realize it, especially then living a day or a week in my wife’s shoes.”
Patrick rose to global fame in June during a Black Lives Matter Protest in London when he lifted a white counter-protester to safety. He was described as a hero for his actions—today, Prince Harry called him a "guardian angel"—and is now using his platform to advocate for racial justice and a fairer society. He and three friends have since set up a new collective United to Change and Inspire, and he is writing a book.
During his conversation with Prince Harry, Patrick also reflected on unconscious bias. “I feel like first of all you have to be willing to listen and have the conversation, have those uncomfortable conversations. It is an uncomfortable conversation and I totally get it, especially for a white person. Who wants to be told that they may potentially have a little bit of racism in them?" he said.
He continued, "There's a big class thing in here too and it's a combination of the two, because it's not only Black people who are struggling or nonwhite people. There are white people who are struggling in impoverished areas, along with Black people, who don't get the opportunities and the chances that others might get."
Harry listened as Patrick, who is a father of four, shared how his 11-year-old is “becoming very aware” of, and notices, racism. He said, “My nickname for her, I call her pretty girl...Because I know that her dark skin, to some people, may not be as beautiful as it is to me, I call her pretty girl to help empower her and let her know that she’s beautiful and that she can do whatever she wants in life. Because I know that when she gets out there there’s a chance that that might hold her back, through no fault of her own.”
Describing how “it’s going to take every single one of us to really change things,” Harry continued, saying that “anyone that’s pushing against it really needs to take a long hard look at themselves in the mirror because, as I said, this isn’t Black versus white. As you quite rightly pointed out, now in 2020 we have protesters of every color, every background, every religion, every belief, every age. This is a global movement and the train has left the station and if you’re not on it now then get on it. Because there’s so much that we can do. Being a dad myself the whole point in life, I guess, for me, is to try and leave the world in a better place than when you found it.”
The Prince also spoke of the responsibilities on people and institutions with power to examine whether they are playing a role in perpetuating bias, saying: “I think one of the most dangerous things is people within positions of power, whether it’s politics or whether it’s the media, where if you’re not aware of your own bias and you’re not aware of the culture within your system then how are we ever going to progress? How are we ever going to get to that point where there is more fairness?”
He added: “Because it’s not a zero-sum game, right? Everyone benefits if the Black community are treated the way that they should be treated. It is a learning process. It’s not actually up for debate. These are the facts. This is what’s happening.”
Additionally, the two men spoke about the apprehension some white people feel in starting a conversation about race. “People need to not be afraid. I think that can be a part of it for some white people. I think they can be afraid, they’re scared of saying the wrong thing possibly,” Patrick said.
Harry agreed. “That’s a huge part of it. Not everyone’s going to get it right, and from what I’ve seen people are desperately trying to get it right, and even when trying to get it right get it massively wrong,” he said.
But, the Prince continued: “These are conversations that need to be had across all corners of society and all platforms of power as well because that’s where the difference is going to be made.”
And they both acknowledged that there is still much work to do. Speaking about the fact that the protests were need, Patrick said, “It makes you wonder why people find it so hard to understand what we’re all striving for, the equality side of things. It really brings home how much work we have to do.”
Harry agreed, but said, “I genuinely feel as though the world is very much heading in the right direction. But inevitably a lot of the pain has to come to the surface before we can actually turn the page and start the new chapter.”
The conversation ended with the two men wishing each other’s families well, with Harry saying he and Meghan were “working our asses off and Archie’s keeping us very busy but he’s making us laugh every day which is great.”
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