Meghan Markle, wife of Prince Harry, came out of her silence on Thursday to speak on the death of George Floyd and more widely on racism and police violence in the United States, which she herself witnessed during her youth. in California.
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If she did not speak earlier, it is because she was “nervous” and did not know how to address the issue, explains the American Métis actress, visibly moved, in a six-minute video addressed to young people graduates from her former Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles.
“Then I realized that the only mistake was to remain silent because the life of George Floyd counted,” said the Duchess of Sussex.
The 38-year-old woman then scratched the names of other black victims of police brutality in recent years. Among them are Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old health professional who was killed at home by the police in March, or Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy shot dead while playing with a plastic gun in 2014.
“The lives of many other people, those whose names we know, and those whose names we do not know,” also mattered, she continued, in reference to the “Black Live Matters” movement behind the hundreds of protests that have raised the country since the death of George Floyd under the knee of a white police officer.
Now back in California with her husband and son Archie, after officially ceasing to be “active members” of the royal family, Meghan Markle recalled the riots of 1992 in her hometown, Los Angeles, “Triggered by an act of gratuitous racism”. In this case the acquittal of four white police officers who had beaten and seriously injured the black motorist Rodney King.
The Duchess of Sussex was still just a child preparing to “enter Immaculate Heart College”. “And I remember the curfew, rushing home and seeing on the road, in the car, ashes falling from the sky, feeling the smoke and seeing the smoke coming out of the buildings She said.
“Eyes filled with tears”
“And I remember stopping in front of the house and seeing this tree, which had always been there, completely charred. And those memories don’t go away, ”Meghan Markle said soberly.
Protests and violence that had spread to San Francisco, Las Vegas, Atlanta and New York had left around sixty people dead and more than 2,300 injured at the time.
Meghan Markle also evoked the memory of a teacher who had marked her by telling her to “never forget to put the needs of others before her own fears”. “I thought about it more than ever last week,” she says.
The Duchess of Sussex has in turn provided advice and encouragement to the graduates of the 2020 promotion of her high school. “You know you are going to rebuild, rebuild and rebuild again (…) Because when the foundations are broken, so are we,” she said, calling on the young girls to “make their voices heard more than ever.” By voting.
Born to an African-American mother, Doria Ragland, and a white father, Thomas Markle, the Métis actress herself was the victim of racism, especially when she lived in the United Kingdom, which she left last winter with Prince Harry.
A British radio presenter BBC Radio 5 live was dismissed in 2019 for having attached a photo of a monkey to that of the son of the royal couple.
She has already in the past mentioned the discrimination and harassment suffered by her ancestors, like her grandfather who had to use the door reserved “for people of color” to order in a restaurant in Kentucky, where he could not sit down to eat his meal. “This story still haunts me (…) It reminds me of how young our country is. All the way we have come and what remains to be done, ”she wrote.
Meghan Markle had also spoken of the racist insults suffered by her own mother in Los Angeles while she was in the car with her and “her eyes filled with tears”.