This week, let’s examine white supremacy and the monarchy.
White supremacy is a concept (not a hate group, although those groups are based on the concept and use it to do hateful things).
As a concept, it is about white skin being the standard or norm, and people with white skin being superior. With that in mind, systems, laws and policies have been/are created – and colonization took place around the world.
Remember, Britain was an empire.
The British Empire
But consider a few highlights (from Wikipedia):
- The British Empire began as overseas possessions and trading post between the late 16th century and early 18th century.
- It was once the largest empire in history.
- In 1913 the British empire consisted of 23% of the world population and 24% of the earth’s land mass.
Here is a map.
White supremacy is deep and pervasive.
It colours (pun intended) how we see the world, what we notice and don’t notice, and how we see, judge and treat people according to the amount of melanin in their skin. All of us are swimming in it, but with positive impacts (white privilege) for people who are white, and negative impacts (systemic racism and racism) for people who are black and brown. Including internalized racism.
In addition, when we benefit from white supremacy, there is a good chance we won’t see it or question it. It simply becomes “the way it is”. Which creates further differential impact including denial, the inability/unwillingness to talk about it, and resistance to cultivating awareness or changing the system.
What did you expect?
In a country with a deep and long history of colonizing countries populated by people who are black and people of colour… (As well as countries populated by people who are light skinned but not considered as “white” – Britain invaded China and Hong Kong was ceded in 1841. You can read about that here)
In a country that participated in, and benefitted from the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade…
In a family that has run said country (and an Empire built on colonization!) for centuries…
Where would folks in the monarchy have learned to see, notice, examine, analyze, and speak out against racism? It would have not been beneficial to the success of the Empire, and there would have been no personal need to either based on skin colour.
Why then, are we surprised that Meghan Markle experienced racism and was not protected from it/supported in the face of it? I’m not.
What response would I have loved to see from the Monarchy?
An acknowledgement of ignorance and harm.
A leaning in to the conversation about race, and to self-awareness.
Even just the acknowledgment that they are listening and wanting to know.
Am I surprised that did not happen?
Imagine the trauma of rethinking and unravelling hundreds of years of racism in action at your ancestor’s hands? Imagine rethinking histories.
In Trolls 2 (the movie) there is a good line that goes something like this: “the scrapbooks are written by the winners”. Very true. History is told from one vantage point. Unravelling white supremacy will require a complete rethink and rewrite.
(By the way there is some good age-appropriate commentary on colonization in Trolls 2).
Do I think these things can happen?
I think it has started with Harry.
Although I’m sure he has a steep learning curve.
And as his children grow, it will get steeper and they will provide really good reasons to sink in and “get it”.
I’ll take that win. As a start.
In the meantime, we keep working….
Copyright 2021 Annemarie Shrouder