Saira Khan: Living in fear of being racist only builds barriers; The Duchess of Sussex has showcased women who she believes are forces for change in her upcoming Vogue magazine edition.
You can't escape this month's edition of Vogue magazine -- mostly because Meghan Markle's fingerprints are all over it.
The Duchess of Sussex was guest editor and her cover is the main talking point.
Unlike Kate Middleton, she chose not to put herself on the front, instead going for headshots of women she felt were her "forces for change" -- who are breaking down barriers.
Michelle Obama, presenter Jameela Jamil, actress Jane Fonda.
The September issue also features an interview in which her hubby Prince Harry states "unconscious bias" can lead to racist behaviour, even if people do not consider themselves racist.
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He went on to explain that prejudice was learned from the older generation or from advertising or from your environment.
And it got me thinking about my own prejudices and upbringing and how that has influenced the way I think and behave towards others.
Admit it -- we've all done it at some point, to some degree.
Whether it's holding on to your bag a little tighter when certain people walk towards you, shooting a look at a woman in religious garb, or refusing to let your child play with someone whose parents you don't approve of.
Harry's comments show that they're smarting from their treatment in the media and comments hurled at her.
And some stuff has been outright racist.
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But many more people came out to defend, support and celebrate their marriage, especially because it was a union of mixed race and heritage.
And I do feel very uncomfortable with the suggestion that any criticism of Meghan is due to unconscious racism.
As a public figure, in a privileged position, there will be things she says, does and believes that many people will disagree with.
They would have disagreed regardless of what colour, race, sexuality or gender she was.
And we should feel able to disagree without fear of being labelled racist.
Take for example Piers Morgan having a dig at Meghan, calling her a "B-list actress" who has probably craved all her adult life to be a Vogue star".
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He was shocked Buckingham Palace let her do the issue because Meghan is supposed to be a member of the royal family and "not a publicity-craving celebrity".
But Piers is just doing his job by starting a debate and providing an opinion.
Eamonn Holmes was also called a racist on Twitter for daring to say he thought Meghan was "uppity".
As a woman of colour myself, I do not want people to feel nervous about criticising me, giving feedback or having a difference of opinion.
Yes, some people, because of their unconscious bias, have treated me with prejudice over the years, resulting in missed opportunities for me.
But that is their loss -- they have lost out on my energy, passion, insight and experience.
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So, Harry and Meghan, what I have learned is that the biggest agent for changing prejudiced minds is my own willingness to engage and integrate with people who are different to myself.
To let people into my life and help them understand where I come from and share my story.
You can't be a force for change if you keep others at arm's length.
'You can't be a force for change if you keep others at arm's length. '
The front cover of Vogue's September edition
Credit: Samir Hussein/WireImage
Harry and Meghan at The Lion King premiere in London
Credit: Ken McKay/ITV/REX
Eamonn Holmes has threatened to sue a critic for calling him 'racist'
Meghan with editor Edward Enninful
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|Title Annotation:||News,UK News|
|Publication:||Daily Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Aug 3, 2019|
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