In 2016, Harry took the highly unusual step of asking the media to stop the “wave of abuse and harassment” against Markle.
The prince cited a “smear” on the front page of a national newspaper, “racial undertones” of newspaper opinion pieces, and “outright sexism and racism of social media trolls.”
Akpan said she felt much of the objection to Markle was to do with her mixed background.
“We all know what you’re trying to say, spit it out, say it,” she said, citing “the quiet and unique brand of racism that takes place” in the U.K.
British comedian Gina Yashere, who is based in the U.S., said there is always an undercurrent of racism in society on both sides of the Atlantic.
“It’s more outward in America, not so much in England. In England they like to use sort of dog-whistling terms like exotic,” she told Britain’s Channel 4 News.
“She’s not exotic,” Yashere added, referring to Markle. “She’s not from a tribe in the Amazon. She’s American.”
Markle, whose mom is African-American and dad is white, has described herself as a “strong, confident mixed-race woman.”
Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff, deputy editor of gal-dem, an online magazine written by women of color, said she felt some U.K. press coverage betrayed how the British elite feel about people who look different to them.
“Britain is not in the grand scheme of things a multicultural country, especially compared to the States,” she said. “We’re very much a minority here and there is a lot of prejudice against black people.”
The number of black Britons living in the U.K. is relatively small. Three percent of the population in England and Wales identified as Black British, Black African or Caribbean, according to official data from the 2011 census. Only 2 percent of respondents identified as being of mixed ethnicity.