Racism rocks British royalty

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Lady Susan Hussey quits over remarks to charity boss Ngozi Fulani. Palace described the comments as “unacceptable and deeply regrettable” …reports Asian Lite News

A senior member of the British royal household resigned Wednesday for repeatedly asking a black charity campaigner where she was “really” from.

Ngozi Fulani, the chief executive of the London-based Sistah Spacel group, was attending a reception at Buckingham Palace with other campaigners on Tuesday.

After saying she was born and raised in the UK, and was British, Fulani said “Lady SH” asked her: “Where do you really come from, where do your people come from?”

She was then asked: “When did you first come here?”

The palace described the comments as “unacceptable and deeply regrettable”.

“We have reached out to Ngozi Fulani on this matter, and are inviting her to discuss all elements of her experience in person if she wishes,” a statement read.

“In the meantime, the individual concerned would like to express her profound apologies for the hurt caused and has stepped aside from her honorary role with immediate effect.

The late Queen’s lady-in-waiting Susan Hussey who is also a godmother to Prince William was named by UK media as the woman in question.

A spokesperson for William said that it was “really disappointing” to hear about the experiences.

“The comments were unacceptable, and it is right that the individual has stepped aside with immediate effect,” the Kensington Palace spokesperson said.

The palace said in a statement: “‘We take this incident extremely seriously and have investigated immediately to establish the full details.”

It added it had reached out to the charity boss and was inviting her to discuss her experience in person.

“In the meantime, the individual concerned would like to express her profound apologies for the hurt caused and has stepped aside from her honourary role with immediate effect. All members of the household are being reminded of the diversity and inclusivity policies which they are required to uphold at all times.”

Sistah Space is a support organisation based in east London for women of African and Caribbean heritage affected by abuse.

Domestic abuse is one of the key causes championed by Queen Consort Camilla since she joined the royal family.

Fulani, in an interview with the Independent website, said the issue was “bigger than one individual. It’s institutional racism”.

“I was in shock after it happened and anybody who knows me knows I don’t take this kind of nonsense,” she said.

“But I had to consider so many things. As a black person, I found myself in this place where I wanted to say something but what happened would automatically be seen as my fault, it would bring [my charity] Sistah Space down. It would be ‘oh, she has a chip on their shoulder’.”

Fulani said she did not want to see Lady Hussey “vilified”.

An eyewitness to the conversation, Mandu Reid, told BBC News that Lady Hussey’s questions had been “offensive, racist and unwelcoming”.

The leader of the Women’s Equality Party said she had felt a “sense of incredulity” about the exchange in which Ms Fulani was interrogated about where she was from, even though she had already explained she was born and lived in the UK.

Fulani was at the reception at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday representing the London-based charity Sistah Space, which supports women of African and Caribbean heritage across the UK who have faced domestic and sexual abuse.

Along with 300 guests, she had been invited to the event, where the Queen Consort, Camilla, had warned of a “global pandemic of violence against women”.

Here is the full conversation, as recounted by Fulani

Lady SH: Where are you from?

Me: Sistah Space.

SH: No, where do you come from?

Me: We’re based in Hackney.

SH: No, what part of Africa are you from?

Me: I don’t know, they didn’t leave any records.

SH: Well, you must know where you’re from, I spent time in France. Where are you from?

Me: Here, the UK.

SH: No, but what nationality are you?

Me: I am born here and am British.

SH: No, but where do you really come from, where do your people come from?

Me: ‘My people’, lady, what is this?

SH: Oh I can see I am going to have a challenge getting you to say where you’re from. When did you first come here?

Me: Lady! I am a British national, my parents came here in the 50s when…

SH: Oh, I knew we’d get there in the end, you’re Caribbean!

Me: No lady, I am of African heritage, Caribbean descent and British nationality.

SH: Oh so you’re from…

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