Mothers of biracial children react to Meghan and Harry interview

Three mothers of biracial children speak out about their experiences after Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s shocking interview.

Video Transcript

SUSAN COLE-HALEY: When I heard about the interview with Meghan and Harry I was quite saddened, initially. I feel that Meghan and Harry are both incredible assets to the royal family. So it was very sad when they left.

TERESA BEALL: Well, I felt real bad for them because I think they were kind of taken by surprise. It's probably something they've never dealt with before. So yeah, I just felt at lot of sadness for them, especially when it's your child.

SANDY ZANNINO: There was dismay. There was shock, yet a shock that is familiar.

SUSAN COLE-HALEY: I was quite struck by the stories of Meghan potentially facing racist comments when she was pregnant. I have direct experience of that as a mother of four mixed race children. And what was quite striking for me was when my son, who is now 16, when he was born I felt that he was a slightly off color. And I mentioned it to a nurse who said to me, oh, don't worry dear. That's just the color of mixed race babies.

However, I didn't quite give up on that. And it actually turned out that my son had jaundice. So I think these types of experiences are quite common for people of color, particularly when they have mixed race children.

TERESA BEALL: One particular time when I had my son, and a few days after I had my son, a family member came over. And they didn't remark about his skin color, but they made reference to his hair. And they were surprised that his hair was so straight. I was angry. I didn't say anything because I was kind in a vulnerable state because I had just had a baby a couple days before.

SANDY ZANNINO: The part that brought me to tears was when Harry was talking about the reaction from his family. And I am the parent of a biracial child. And I can understand how-- I guess I can empathize with how that must have felt for him, for him and his child and his wife to not be fully accepted for who they are and everything that they bring. It made me sad.

SUSAN COLE-HALEY: So I think that we're having much more of a conversation today about racism. And I think that's a good thing. Unless we have these conversations we're not actually going to be able to address it and actually change it.

TERESA BEALL: As bad as it was to listen to-- and it's just really kind of gut wrenching a little bit-- it needed to happen. And a lot of people, when I say, oh, I don't want to talk about it, let's not talk about race, let's not talk about this-- you can't keep brushing it under the carpet and think it's going to change. Until you're ready to talk about it, you're going to still deal with it. It's not going anywhere.

I had to tell my child, to navigate in the world, that yes, you are biracial. This is true. But when you go outside these doors you're looked at as only African-American, and that's it. And there are things that go along with that, sometimes not so good. So you have to have those talks.

SANDY ZANNINO: Because of the color of my skin I don't-- my child-- what I recognize is that my child has a different experience in the world than I do. She related to me about being followed as she was shopping, and it was long after the fact. And she never told me about it until we were having a different conversation. And that's when I really realized that, you know what, she has a different experience in the world than me. The world treats her differently.

SUSAN COLE-HALEY: I think the first thing that we need to do is have honest and open conversations. And we need to consider the experiences, the lived experiences of people whose lives have been blighted by racism and learn from them because, ultimately, they are experts through experience. And we just need to end discrimination.

TERESA BEALL: I don't want people to feel like they shouldn't love who they want to love. I don't want them to feel like, oh my god, I don't want to deal with this person because I'm going to deal with some of the issues. You're going to deal with issues no matter who you marry. [LAUGHS]

You have people of the same race, they get divorced and have problems. And, you know, there's no difference. It's just you have to stay united. And I think Harry and Meghan will get through this if they just-- I commend Harry, for one, because he left a lot. But I think he's going to gain a lot, too.