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A California Girl in Queen Elizabeth’s (‘Very Much Not a Racist’) Court

On this episode of democracy-ish, Danielle is back from vacation and living her best life. So is Meghan Markle. Together with Oprah, who Toure calls the “queen of interviewers,” she may have just upended the British monarchy.

  • Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sat down with Oprah Winfrey for a bombshell interview about their decision to leave the royal family.

  • It was a stark account of racism and how it knows no class boundaries –– and a reminder Oprah is still the reigning queen of compelling television.

  • In other news this week, Congress passed a COVID relief bill without a provision for a minimum wage hike, the trial of George Floyd’s killer begins and hate crimes against Asian-Americans are on the rise.

It seemed as if Meghan Markle was living a dream: becoming a real-life princess. But we learned this week in a devastating interview with Oprah that her experience was a waking nightmare.

“It's clearly an example of how you can get to the upper-upper class as a Black person and still experience extreme racism,” says Toure.

It was perhaps unsurprising that a Black American woman wouldn’t be embraced wholeheartedly by an institution that literally reigns over a commonwealth of nations it colonized. But it was a welcome reminder that Oprah’s talent as an interviewer is unmatched.

“She is confrontational,” says Toure. “She uses her emotional intelligence. She understands that it's all about the follow-up, so she's in the moment.”

The genius of Oprah is her empathy, Danielle says.

“People want to open up to her because they feel like they're being heard and seen.”

The interview was equal parts scathing takedown, courageous disclosure and declaration of independence.

Harry, welcome to America. Meghan, welcome back. Oprah, we missed you.

Episode Highlights –– Oprah Is the Queen

Inimitable Oprah

Toure thinks that as an interviewer, Oprah is “the queen of circling back.”

She asked Harry about his relationship with his father, and wasn’t satisfied with the answer. And even though the interview went in another direction, she brought it up again. But her follow-ups never seem like attacks, Toure adds.

“Her emotional intelligence, in terms of creating empathy, in terms of trying to understand how someone feels, or felt in the moment, says: I am with you. But not in a mawkish way.”

He’s struck by her talent at asking “sharp, direct” questions.

“A lot of people in the game do long questions, because they are thinking through what they're trying to ask as they're asking it. But Oprah is so quick she can scalpel. What did you say when the Queen said that? What do you think the palace really meant by that?”

Those are more effective than “multi-directional, nuanced questions'' –– and yet none of them are sensational, he says. They’re “genuine and organic.”

Danielle thinks the difference between Oprah and other journalists is that she has “never been a clout chaser. She wasn't going into this interview thinking … How can I trend today?”

Instead, Oprah approached her sit-down with the ex-royals with an openhearted approach: “These people have been hurt. They're vulnerable. How do I present this conversation so people understand the depth of what transpired?”

Toure says she still, after all this time, demonstrates a commitment to being of service –– “to the audience and to truth.”

He also notes that –– although she does it less now –– she’s “extraordinary at code switching: going from saying the homegirl sort of things that made us be like, yes, she's she's still one of us, and then saying something that made suburban white women think, she's one of us.”

‘The Firm’ dies hard

Toure thinks it was no surprise that the British Royal family, “which has never had a Black person in it, was not welcoming to her.”

But it was notable that Harry and Meghan seemed careful not to implicate the family but direct their accusations toward “The Firm” –– ostensibly the palace administration –– instead.

It was clear what