In the second episode of their Harry and Meghan series on Netflix, the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle opened up about her childhood experiences as a biracial person and the racism she saw her Black mother endure.
Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, had a sit-down with her daughter for that episode. The last time Doria, 66, made a public appearance was during the 2018 wedding of her 41-year-old daughter and Prince Harry.
During the sit-down, Doria referred to her daughter as an “old soul” and a very brilliant student. Doria and her daughter lived in Los Angeles during her childhood, and the social worker and her ex-husband, Thomas Markle, shared custody of Meghan.
The Duchess of Sussex touched on the racist encounter during a drive around The Hollywood Bowl. The 41-year-old recalled her mother was racially abused when they attended an event at the venue.
Meghan said as she and her mother were exiting the venue’s parking lot, Doria “honked her horn” as a particular “woman was taking a long time to figure out how to get out.” She said the woman then “turned around and screamed the N-word at my mom.”
“I just remember my mom, the grip that her hands had on the steering wheel. You could it was so tight, like the knuckles get all white, and she was just silent the rest of the drive home. We never talked about it,” Meghan said. The Duchess of Sussex also said she had not heard the racial slur before.
Meghan also spoke about being biracial, saying that it’s “very different to be a minority but not be treated as a minority right off the bat.”
“Obviously, now, people are very aware of my race because they made it such an issue when I went to the U.K. But before that, most people didn’t treat me like a ‘Black woman.’ So that talk didn’t have to happen for me.”
But Doria expressed her regret at not having that conversation with her daughter. “As a parent, in hindsight, absolutely, I would like to go back and have that kind of real conversation about how the world sees you,” she said.
During that episode also, Meghan talked about encounters where people thought her Black mother was her nanny. “I just remember my mom telling me stories about taking me to the grocery store and women going, ‘Whose child is that? You must be the,” She’s like, ‘It’s my child,’” she recalled. “‘No ― you must be the nanny, where’s her mom?’ ‘Cause I was really fair skinned and my mom, darker.”
And touching on the scrutiny that ensued after it was revealed Harry and Meghan were dating, Doria told Meghan, “Clearly, this is about race.”
“And Meg said, ‘Mommy I don’t want to hear that,'” Doria said in reference to what her daughter told her at the time. “And I said, ‘Well, you may not want to hear it, but this is what’s coming down the pike.’”
The camera then shifted to an interview where the Duchess of Sussex said, “At that time, I wasn’t thinking about how race played a part in any of this. I genuinely didn’t think about it.”
In January 2020, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they were stepping back as members of the royal family. They ultimately relocated to the United States. And months after stepping away from royal life, the couple engaged in an extraordinary interview with Oprah Winfrey, Face2Face Africa reported at the time.
In the two-hour, pre-recorded tell-all, Harry and Meghan spoke about their lives inside the palace, including making bombshell revelations about racism within the Royal Family, mental health, and what the last few years of their relationship had been like.