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How ‘living in Meghan’s shoes’ helped Harry realise unconscious racial bias exists

Written by on 26/10/2020

Prince Harry has described how he had “no idea” what unconscious bias was until “living a day or a week in my wife’s shoes”.

The Duke of Sussex made the comment during a conversation with Black Lives Matter campaigner Patrick Hutchinson, who rose to fame after he was photographed rescuing an injured white man after violent clashes erupted between anti-racism protesters and counter-demonstrators this summer.

Harry described Mr Hutchinson as “a guardian angel” as they talked about why he risked his own life to protect a rival protester during the heated demonstration.

Patrick Hutchinson saved a white man at a Black Lives Matter protest
Image: Patrick Hutchinson helped an injured white man to safety at a Black Lives Matter protest in June during clashes between anti-racism protesters and counter-protesters

During the half hour conversation, the two men shared their thoughts on the issues of racism, unconscious bias and the fight for equality.

They spoke via video call to launch British GQ’s Heroes Festival, the men’s magazine’s annual summit of ideas, culture and thought leadership.

Chatting from his home in Santa Barbara, California, Harry said: “No one’s pointing the finger.

“You can’t really point fingers, especially when it comes to unconscious bias.

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“But once you realise or you feel a little bit uncomfortable, then the onus is on you to go out and educate yourself, because ignorance is no longer an excuse.

“And unconscious bias, from my understanding, having the upbringing and the education that I had, I had no idea what it was.

“I had no idea it existed. And then, sad as it is to say, it took me many, many years to realise it, especially then living a day or a week in my wife’s shoes.”

Mr Hutchinson responded: “First of all you have to be willing to listen and have the conversation, have those uncomfortable conversations, because 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? (How do you) tell the working-class white person that’s worked really hard all their life to get where they are that they’ve had a leg up? They’re not going to have that and this is where the problem lies.”

He added, “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 non-white 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.

“And we need to just share this around a little bit more and be a bit fairer, give other people a chance in society.”

Prince Harry whispers to Meghan Markle as they watch a dance performance by Jukebox Collective in the banqueting hall during a visit to Cardiff Castle in 2018
Image: Prince Harry says he had no idea unconscious racial bias existed until he met his wife Meghan

During the in-depth conversation, in which the two men seemed to get on incredibly well, Harry also asked Mr Hutchinson about why he saved the rival protester in June.

Mr Hutchinson explained that he and a group of friends had gone to the protest to set an example to younger people, and make sure things didn’t get out of hand.

He said instinct kicked in to do the right thing and continued: “It was us protecting everybody and, as it turned out, somebody on the other side.

“Because at the end of the day, at that moment in time you forget (that people are) anything else and you just want to do what’s right for that particular moment.”

He added: “We were pleased that we’d been able to avert a serious, serious situation.

“Yeah, I would do it for anybody and I would do it time and time again. It’s just not something you think about.”

Harry and Meghan have spoken extensively about race in recent months.

In an interview to mark Black History Month, they said there was a lost generation of “people of colour” whose contribution to UK society will remain “untapped” as long as structural racism exists.

 Sky News

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