The Real Reason Meghan Markle Initially Stayed Silent Amid Protests

Meghan Markle was criticised earlier this week for her silence in light of George Floyd's death and the Black Lives Matter protests. People on Twitter wondered why she wasn't speaking up and British news outlets, like the Daily Mail, heavily criticised her for it (surprise, surprise).

But recently, Meghan did come forward in a unique way to respond to the protests. She gave a commencement speech for the virtual graduation ceremony of her former high school in Los Angeles, Immaculate Heart High School, according to People. The duchess appeared late in the evening on June 3, 2020 and addressed the graduating class in an honest, vulnerable way, sharing her fears about speaking up.

Meghan said: "What is happening in our country and in our state and in our hometown of L.A. has been absolutely devastating. I wasn't sure what I could say to you," via People. She went on, "I wanted to say the right thing and I was really nervous that I wouldn't, or that it would get picked apart. And I realized the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing because George Floyd's life mattered and Breonna Taylor's life mattered and Philando Castile's life mattered and Tamir Rice's life mattered, and so did so many other people whose names we know and whose names we do not know." 

Meghan didn't stop there. She went on to share how her "heart hurts" for young people right now.

Meghan Markle encourages the graduating class to vote

At a virtual graduation ceremony for her former high school, Meghan Markle spoke of George Floyd's death and the racialized injustice in America. She spoke for 6 minutes and said that her "heart hurts" for the young people graduating into a world of injustice right now.

But Meghan was also very hopeful. She said: "You're going to use your voice in a stronger way than you've ever been able to, because most of you are 18 – or you're going to turn 18 soon — so you're going to vote," according to People. She added: "You're going to have empathy for those who don't see the world through the same lens that you do."

Meghan remembered a time when she was volunteering during her sophomore year when one of her teachers at the time, Ms. Pollia, said to her, "always remember to put others' needs above your own fears."

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According to People, Meghan said of the experience: "That has stuck with me throughout my entire life and I have thought about it more in the last week than ever before. I am so sorry that you have to grow up in a world where this is still present." Then Meghan shared her own memories of riots and protests when she was young. 

Meghan Markle recalls the Rodney King riots

During the address to her former high school on June 3, 2020, Meghan Markle also recalled a memory when she was 11 or 12 in Los Angeles, after the LAPD violently beat Rodney King in 1991. She recalled the riots that were "also triggered by senseless acts of racism," according to People.

Meghan said: "I remember the curfew and I remember rushing back home and on that drive home, seeing ash fall from the sky and smelling the smoke and seeing the smoke billow out of buildings, and seeing people run out of buildings carrying bags and looting."

Meghan added: "I remember seeing men in the back of a van just holding guns and rifles. I remember pulling up the house and seeing the tree, that had always been there, completely charred. And those memories don't go away," via People.

Meghan added a beautiful apology: "I am sorry that in a way we have not gotten to the place where you deserve it to be."

Meghan Markle speaks up in spite of her own racist media treatment

It was even more poignant to hear from Meghan Markle because of what she went through, especially while she and Prince Harry were living in England. NBC pointed out what a major thing it was for Meghan to marry a royal in the U.K., saying: "The image of a biracial, foreign woman welcomed into the bosom of white, traditionalist Britain carried colossal symbolism — and even a hope that it signaled greater inclusivity and tolerance."

However, Meghan wasn't exactly made to feel welcome by all parts of British society and NBC points out how both Harry and Meghan have complained of toxic British media coverage and how various supporters of the media outlets have veered into racism and bullying.

Meghan has certainly fought her own battle on this front, along with her husband, so her heartfelt words meant that much more. She added an optimistic message for the graduating class of Immaculate Heart High School when she said: "I know you know black lives matter ... we need you. I'm cheering you on."