Ethiopian-born MK on Meghan interview: No mother should raise child amid racism

Pnina Tamano-Shata says she’s shocked by allegation in bombshell interview, quips: ‘Sounds like UK royals would turn me into a cleaner’

MK Pnina Tamano-Shata, pictured on February 4, 2020, in Hadera. (Jack Guez/AFP)
MK Pnina Tamano-Shata, pictured on February 4, 2020, in Hadera. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Pnina Tamano-Shata, Israel’s first Ethiopian-born member of Knesset, on Monday lamented the racism alleged by Meghan and Harry in the British royal family, saying that no mother should be expected to raise a child in an atmosphere of racism, not even in a “golden palace.”

Meghan, who is biracial, told Oprah Winfrey that when she became pregnant with son Archie, some members of the royal family had expressed concerns to Harry over the color of the child’s skin.

“In those months when I was pregnant… we have in tandem the conversation of ‘he won’t be given security, he’s not going to be given a title’ and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born,” Meghan told Winfrey in the couple’s bombshell interview Sunday.

Tamano-Shata, the minister of immigrant absorption, said she was horrified by the allegations of racism, and that in the event that they turned out to be true, it would be clear why the couple chose to escape the royal household.

This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, in conversation with Oprah Winfrey in an interview broadcast March 7, 2021. (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP, File)

“It’s so shocking,” she told Army Radio. “Now I understand why Meghan fled, if that’s what was going on and that’s what she had to suffer.”

Abiding that kind of situation is intolerable, “no matter how golden the palace,” added Tamano-Shata, a campaigner against racism who in 2016 was given an award by Martin Luther King III, son of the American civil rights leader, for activism on behalf of Ethiopian immigrants.

The minister was asked jokingly by the interviewer, Jacob Bardugo, whether she would have raised the issue with the queen if she were visiting the royals. “It sounds like, were you and me to visit there, they’d turn you into the gardener and me into the cleaner,” she quipped, adding hurriedly that she was kidding and did not intend to cause offense.

Tamano-Shata was born near Gondar in northern Ethiopia and was brought to Israel in an airlift as a child in the mid-1980s. Bardugo’s parents immigrated to Israel from Morocco.

A spokesperson for Tamano-Shata’s Blue and White party later stressed to The Times of Israel that the remark was made in jest during a lighthearted conversation and had been misconstrued.

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