Revelations and Realizations from Oprah's Interview with Harry and Meghan

For some, the revelations from Oprah's interview with Harry and Megan were reflective of their personal experiences with racism in the UK and globally. For others, they reflected the ignorance and deep-rooted racism present in the UK media. However, it remains demonstrably clear that the interview highlighted the tangible differences in the way people now perceive and are aware of racist discourse in British media and institutions.

As such, the two-hour interview has inspired intense conversations, exposing many truths about institutional racism, the toxicity of tabloids, the regularity of racist rhetoric, the prominence of mental health, and the inner workings of the British Monarchy. 

 Why the Controversy?

The controversy stems from the fact that there are two drastically opposing interpretations of Harry and Meghan’s interview and, by extension, their experiences.

On one side, there are those who understand and empathize with the experiences of racism and mental health issues Meghan has faced. These include people who want to use the revelations from the interview to push for the destigmatization of mental health, and for an acknowledgment of the need for change regarding racism. 

The opposing view focuses not on the wider issues raised during the interview, but on the allegedly disrespectful nature of the interview; criticizing Harry and Meghan’s choice to share their experience. The people belonging to this party have undermined the institutional concerns raised during the interview by employing an ad hominem response to Meghan’s statements, condemning them as entirely false and dismissible.

What do St Andrews Students Think? 

I asked a few St Andrews students - British citizens - what their thoughts were in response to the interview. Lucy Pennmen, Class of ‘23, told Her Campus, “I think the interview and its consequences made me view the Royal Family differently because it made me realize how much the media twists things, and how so much of Harry and Meghan's choice to leave was because of the press.”  Another Class of '23 student agreed: “Meghan was targeted deliberately by tabloids - the words used to refer to Meghan, especially stark when comparing them to how Kate was treated, reflect the prevalent racism and overwhelming toxicity in British tabloids. I’ve come to think that tabloids, in general, should be held accountable for the toxic effects they have on the very individuals they report on.” 

While some expressed that their views on the Royal Family had changed in response to recent events, others had never been fans. “I’m not a fan of the Royal Family and I think it's a very outdated institution that has caused grief to so many other nations," says a class of '24 student. "I hope they (Harry and Meghan) are happier out of it, and that Meghan is getting the help she needs for her mental health.”

Still others expressed their belief that the treatment of Meghan by the media was, sadly, par for the course. “I think as a person of color I’m not surprised that Meghan faced institutional racism at the very heart of our establishment," says another Class of '24 student. "What I am surprised at, is the lack of empathy people have had (especially older generations) with her heartbreaking experiences and the hostility people still have towards her.”

Overall Reflections 

The issues discussed in the interview are representative of the need for change - in terms of being kinder to each other, respecting the privacy of public figures, prioritizing and destigmatizing mental health, and recognizing the systems and institutions that enable the persistence of racism.

Finally, we need to acknowledge that flaws, especially those pertaining to discrimination, exist within many of our current systems, and that educating and making people aware of these flaws and their causes is the way forward, which is what the interview has accomplished to a large extent. Only then will people be able to effectively help, listen to, and understand the perspectives of diverse and often marginalized people, like Meghan, who are too often subject to racist and discriminatory profiling.

Below are a few resources to help with mental health and support anti-racism efforts :