Why is WhitePrivilege trending on Twitter? Social media blows up over GMB and This Morning race rows

Harriet Brewis

The debate over the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s retreat from royal life rages on, with arguments ranging from allegations of fraternal bullying to “ruthless” tabloid attacks.

As part of the issue, people have been scrutinising Meghan’s role in the monarchy, with some seeing her as a brave breath of fresh air within an archaic institution and others describing her as a "spoilt brat" who “doesn’t know her place”.

Her defenders point to an relentless smear campaign, accusing swathes of the press and public of failing to accept a mixed-race woman into the royal family from the start.

But why is the trend “WhitePrivilege” dominating Twitter almost a week after the Sussexes bombshell announcement? And what has women's rights activist Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu got to do with it all?

Here’s why this explosive hashtag has blown up on social media today.

The race row has centred on the media's treatment of Meghan (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The race row has centred on the media's treatment of Meghan (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

When did ‘WhitePrivilege’ start trending?

The hashtag started gaining traction yesterday after This Morning Presenter Phillip Schofield said he didn’t view Meghan’s treatment by the press as inherently racist.

The breakfast TV host and his colleague Holly Willoughby were dissecting yesterday’s crunch summit at Sandringham, when they asked whether racism was at the heart of the royal crisis.

Author and activist Dr Mos-Shogbamimu appeared on the show to argue that racial discrimination did, indeed, play a big part in the fall-out.

She argued that much of the criticism levelled against Meghan was “symptomatic of the racism of the United Kingdom”.

The presenters were discussing the royal fall-out over the Sussexes shock announcement (This Morning)
The presenters were discussing the royal fall-out over the Sussexes shock announcement (This Morning)

When Mr Schofield asked her for examples to illustrate this, Dr Mos-Shogbamimu responded: “That is another problem - when people keep asking ‘what examples’ it makes me question where have you been the last two years?

"What have you been reading? What have you been listening to?”

The daytime host replied: “I’ve been reading some criticism, but I haven’t personally read anything that I could say was based on racism.”

“This is part of the problem,” Dr Mos-Shogbamimu responded.

“Let me explain what racism looks like from the lens of white privilege.

“White privilege whitewashes racist and inflammatory language as unconscious bias.

“It perpetuates the bigotry of intolerant white people as ignorant, it defends and protects their private views once spoken as misspeak, and then it camouflages racist behaviour as error of judgement.”

Referring back to Meghan she continued: “If you look at a lot of the criticism she faced, a lot of the examples, it sums up to one thing: ‘How dare she? She doesn’t know her place. She’s uppity’.

“When a black woman goes with the flow and does what’s expected of her, it’s all OK. But the moment she exercises independent thought, independent authenticity, she’s a problem.”

She went on to describe the “volume of abuse and “vitriol” levelled against the duchess as steeped in “racism and misogyny”.

“How much more is she expected to take?” Dr Mos-Shogbamimu asked.

“Bear in mind, if she had responded the way I would respond, she would be stereotypically defined as the angry black woman.”

Why has the debate blown up today?

Dr Mos-Shogbamimu made a second television appearance today, this time coming to blows with Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan.

The outspoken breakfast TV presenter asked her: “Where is this racism that you keep talking about?

“Where are the ghastly tabloids which you say have been driving this racist agenda against a woman who was lorded and welcomed?”

She responded with a direct and heated attack on Mr Morgan, telling him: “You are a man, privileged to have power and influence and you are using your platform so irresponsibly to spout out this personal vendetta with nasty and vile comments knowing fully well that your words are containing bigotry, misogyny, sexism and racism.”

The on-air argument soon heated up (Good Morning Britain/ITV)
The on-air argument soon heated up (Good Morning Britain/ITV)

Her host later snapped: "So you're allowed to be nasty and vile, and you're allowed to say it is all racism and call people like me racist.”

At which point she responded: “It's not my job to teach you about racism."

“It’s the fact you can’t see it because of your privilege,” she went on to explain.

“It is not my job to educate you Mr Morgan but you refuse to get educated.”

How are Twitter users responding?

Social media users have widely praised Dr Mos-Shogbamimu, hailing her for being “one of the clearest voices yet to articulate what's going on”.

Actor Charlie Condou commented: “You were brilliant on This Morning, I completely agree. White people need to start accepting and owning their privilege before anything can change.”

Others are using it to explain what the term means amid confusion as to how it should be defined.

White privilege is used to refer to the fact that white people have advantages in society that other people do not have on the basis of their skin colour. It does not cover other factors, such as wealth, gender, sexual orientation, health or religion.

Has there been any other controversy?

Actress and activist Jameela Jamil called out a tweet from Dancing on Ice champion James Jordan, which read: “This black woman on This Morning talking about Harry and Megan is racist against “WHITE” people. FACT!!!

She commented: “Don’t respond. Don’t follow. Block/mute and tell your followers to do the same. Starve the troll of attention til he goes and educates himself.”

Dr Mos-Shogbamimu then replied to Mr Jordan's tweet herself, writing: "Hey James 'this black woman" on @thismorning has a name - say my name.

"Your tweet proves my point on #WhitePrivilege denying racism against Meghan.

"You're either deliberately obtuse about #racism or willfully ignorant in enabling it.

"Go. Educate. Yourself."

Mr Jordan later hit back on Twitter saying he was "proud to live in probably the most diverse country in the world".

"To be put under an umbrella with other “white privileged” brits as being racist is very hurtful," he wrote.

"I don’t have a racist bone in my body and nor do most Brits. STOP PLAYING RACE CARD!"

Alongside his impassioned message of defence he shared a post written by Piers Morgan.

It read: "All those currently trawling the airwaves to state as fact that 'racist' Brits, led by a 'racist' British media, drove out poor Meghan, need to actually produce evidence of all this (non-existent) racism.

"Or they are themselves guilty of race-baiting."