Harry warns about risk of ‘unconscious’ racism bias
The Duke of Sussex has warned about the threat of “unconscious bias” – where someone may make racist comments but not realise they are prejudiced.
Harry also said a person’s “perspective” on others was learned from “family”, the “older generation” and even “advertising”, during an interview with leading primatologist Dr Jane Goodall.
The royal’s comments will have importance as he is married to mixed-race wife Meghan and has a baby son Archie, now three months old, who shares the heritage of his parents.
During his interview of Dr Goodall, commissioned by British Vogue which is being guest edited by Meghan, Harry revealed he will only have two children to help safeguard the planet.
Dr Goodall, famed for her life-long study of chimpanzees, was asked by Harry how what she had learned about the primates had “impacted” on how she felt about people.
She replied it was “obvious” mankind had “inherited aggressive tendencies”, but human brains were able to control anger.
The duke said: “It’s the same as an unconscious bias – something which so many people don’t understand, why they feel the way that they do.
“Despite the fact that if you go up to someone and say, ‘What you’ve just said, or the way that you’ve behaved, is racist’ – they’ll turn around and say, ‘I’m not a racist.’
“I’m not saying that you’re a racist, I’m just saying that your unconscious bias is proving that, because of the way that you’ve been brought up, the environment you’ve been brought up in, suggests that you have this point of view – unconscious point of view – where naturally you will look at someone in a different way. And that is the point at which people start to have to understand.”
Dr Goodall’s lifelong work with chimpanzees has made her an international figure, and she is credited with making the first recorded observations of chimpanzees using tools and eating meat.
The conservationist welcomed Harry to a meeting of her youth empowerment project Roots and Shoots earlier this month at Windsor Castle, where she talked about how they “clicked” when they first met last December, and hoped to work together raising awareness about conservation.
During the interview Dr Goodall also discussed how young children are not concerned about their race when they are together, she said: “They don’t notice, ‘My skin’s white, mine’s black,’ until somebody tells them.”
Harry replied: “But again, just as stigma is handed down from generation to generation, your perspective on the world and on life and on people is something that is taught to you.
“It’s learned from your family, learned from the older generation, or from advertising, from your environment. And, therefore, you have to be able to have a wider perspective.”
Harry also revealed he has been influenced by his father the Prince of Wales who has repeatedly talked about how mankind cannot see itself as separate from nature, as humans are interconnected with their environment.
The duke said: “People always say, there is nature, then there is us. But we are part of it – we are nature.
“Unless we acknowledge we are part of this cycle, then we’re always going to be fighting against it. Inevitably, because we’re so good at destruction, we’ll end up winning and nature might end up losing.”
Giving an insight into his personal philosophy as he begins a new chapter in his life as a husband and father, the duke said: “Well, you surround yourself with the right people and you do the right things, and as long as you can be a kid at heart, then, growing up is fun as opposed to scary.”
He went on to say: “I think, again, what I’ve noticed in myself, is that life is about evolving. You are continually changing, and if you don’t think that every day is a learning process, then life is going to be very tricky for you.”