The Duchess of Sussex has spoken out in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody in a powerful video message to the graduating class of her former Los Angeles school, Immaculate Heart High.
In the clip, Meghan Markle, 38, admits she was unsure what was the “right” thing to say about the tragedy and subsequent anti-racism protests in her hometown of LA and the wider United States.
The former royal goes on to say that she realised the worst thing she could do was to hold her silence about the “absolutely devastating” situation.
“As we have all seen over the past week, what is happening in our country and in our state and in our hometown of LA has been absolutely devastating,” the mum-of-one 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.
“I realised the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing because George Floyd's life mattered and Breonna Taylor's life mattered and Philando Castile's life mattered and Tamir Rice's life mattered... and so did so many other people whose names we know and whose names we do not know...”
Meghan remembers ‘guns and rifles’
Elsewhere in the video, the former Suits actress, who is biracial, recalls her own childhood memories of the 1991 Los Angeles riots and admits they will never fade.
“I was 11 or 12 years old and it was the LA Riots, which was also triggered by a senseless act of racism, she said.
“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.
“I remember seeing men in the back of a van just holding guns and rifles. I remember pulling up to the house and seeing the tree, that had always been there, completely charred. And those memories don't go away.”
Meghan — who shares Archie, 1, with Prince Harry — goes on to apologise to the students for having to grow up in a world where racism is still prevalent and reflected on some advice she was given as a teenager.
She said: “I remember one teacher, Ms Pollia, said to me, ‘always remember to put other's needs above your own fears’.
“That has stuck with me throughout my entire life and I have thought about it more in the last week than ever before.
“So the first thing I want to say to you is that I'm sorry. I'm so sorry that you have to grow up in a world where this is still present.”
‘We need you’
Meghan calls on the students to be “part of a movement” of hope and to use their voices “in a stronger way” than ever before.
“I know you know that Black lives matter, she continued.
“You're going to use your voice in a stronger way than you have ever been able to because most of you are 18 — or you're turning 18 — so you're going to vote.
“You're going to have empathy for those who don't see the world through the same lens that you do. You're ready. We need you and you're prepared.”
‘Won’t stand for racism’
Meghan’s message to the high schoolers comes after the resurfacing of a much older video in which the former actor recalls her own experiences with racism.
Filmed for the ‘I Won't Stand For...’ campaign for non-profit organisation Erase the Hate eight years ago, the then-30-year-old reveals how she felt when her mother, Doria Ragland, was called the n-word.
This more recent video, however, may have been filmed at the mansion Meghan, Harry and Archie relocated to in late March after formally stepping back from their roles as senior royals.
The couple were seen out and about in their neighbourhood delivering food packages to those in need amid the coronavirus lockdown and just last week reportedly called the police after spotting drones above their home.
Additional reporting by BANG Showbiz.
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