Bishop-designate Rose Hudson-Wilkin has commended the Duke of Sussex for speaking out about “unconscious bias” and racism in society.
Prince Harry made the comments in the September issue of Vogue, which has been guest-edited by his wife the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.
He was interviewing eminent primatologist Dr Jane Goodall when he described “unconscious bias” as being “something which so many people don’t understand, why they feel the way that they do”.
He said: “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.”
Rev Hudson-Wilkin, who will become the Church of England’s first black female bishop when she is consecrated as Bishop of Dover in November, said she was “very proud” of the Duke for raising the issue and that he had “named it for what it is”.
She told Channel 4 News presenter Cathy Newman she “absolutely” agreed that prejudice is something people learn.
“I absolutely agree with him. We’re not born with the ability to be racist. We’re not born racist. We learn to be racist,” she said.
Rev Hudson-Wilkin, who is currently Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons, suggested “unconscious bias” could be seen in the lack of diversity at leadership levels in the UK.
“Why do we see black people not in positions of leadership in our country? Why do we see black people very high in the prison population? Why do we see them being excluded from schools etcetera? We have to ask questions why,” she said.
“What is it in our minds that allows us to think that black people or people from a minority ethnic background should only be in this position and not in the other position? It’s deep in our psyche.”
She added: “I think racism is there in our society. It is not just the church, it is not just in the police, it is not just in this particular organisation. It is there. And it is there because of our history.”
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