The death of George Floyd, the African American who was brutally killed in Minneapolis by white police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, has sparked global outrage and protests, with people taking to the streets to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Video footage showing the 46-year-old African-American being forced onto the ground, as the officer kneeled on his neck, as Floyd pleaded, “I can’t breathe” has moved people all over the world to take to the streets and social media alike to protest police brutality and racism. The incident has highlighted the suffering of people of colour, the racism within America and the plight of African Americans, and black people everywhere, with the war cry ‘Black Lives Matter’.
Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, had been quite about the incident and many had even called her out for laying low during a time like this. But the former actor and Prince Harry’s better half, who is an African American, has finally spoken up and paid tribute to George Floyd in a video message that she shared with the graduating class at her old Los Angeles school, Immaculate Heart High School. In the video, she also named other African Americans who were killed in incidents of police brutality in the US in recent years. The 38-year-old former actor said she didn’t say anything earlier because she was ‘nervous’, the former Suits star said in the video, “George Floyd’s life mattered and Breonna Taylor’s life mattered and Philando Castile’s life mattered and Tamir Rice’s life mattered”. The other three names are of those who were killed by the US police in the past six years. Speaking about George Floyd, Meghan said, “I wasn’t sure what I could say to you. I wanted to say the right thing and I was really nervous that it would get picked apart. And I realised the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing.”
Meghan said, “As we’ve all seen over the last week what is happening in our country and in our state and in our home town of LA has been absolutely devastating”, urging the students at her old school to be “part of a movement” of hope changing the world for the better and that they are “going to have empathy for those who don’t see the world through the same lens that you do”, speaking about Black Lives Matter she added, “With as diverse, vibrant and opened minded as I know the teachings at Immaculate Heart are, I know you know that black lives matter.”
Meghan spoke about when she began secondary school in the same school as them, in 1992 after the brutal beating of Rodney King. She said, “I was 11 or 12 years old when I was just about to start Immaculate Heart Middle School in the fall, and it was the LA Riots, which was also triggered by senseless act of racism.And I remember the curfew and I remember rushing back home and on that drive home, seeing ash fall from the sky and smelling the smoke and seeing the smoke billow out of buildings and seeing people run out of buildings carrying bags and looting. And I remember seeing men in the back of a van just holding guns and rifles. And I remember pulling up at the house and seeing the tree, that had always been there, completely charred. And those memories don’t go away.I remember my teacher at the time, one of my teachers, Ms Pollia, said to me as I was leaving for a day of volunteering, ‘always remember to put other’s needs above your own fears. And that has stuck with me throughout my entire life and I have thought about it more in the last week than ever before.”
Another video of the Duchess from 2012, long before she was a royal, has also been circulating online in which Meghan can be seen wearing a T-shirt that reads, “I won’t stand for racism.”
In the video Meghan says, “My name’s Meghan Markle and I’m here because I think it’s a really important campaign to be a part of. For me, I think it hits a really personal note. I’m bi-racial, most people can’t tell what I’m mixed with and so much of my life has felt like being a fly on the wall. And so some of the slurs that I’ve heard or the really offensive jokes, or the names, it’s just hit me in a really strong way. And then, you know, a couple of years ago I heard someone call my mom the N-word. So I think for me, beyond being personally affected by racism, just to see the landscape of what our country is like right now, and certainly the world, and to want things to be better.”
She went on to say, “Quite honestly, your race is part of what defines you. I think what shifts things is that the world really treats you based on how you look. Certain people don’t look at me and see me as a black woman or a biracial woman. They treat me differently, I think than they would if they knew what I was mixed with, and I think that that is — I don’t know, it can be a struggle as much as it can be a good thing depending on the people that you’re dealing with.”
She concluded with, “I am really proud of my heritage on both sides; I’m really proud of where I’ve come from and where I’m going. But yeah, I hope that by the time I have children, that people are even more open-minded to how things are changing and that having a mixed world is what it’s all about. I mean certainly, it makes it a lot more beautiful and a lot more interesting… By the time I have children I hope that people are more open minded.”