While international press flocks to cover the exodus of scandal-ridden ex-His Royal Highness (HRH) Harry and Meghan Markle, America, especially Shippensburg, can discuss the issues behind royal exile within the context of its own community.
The United Kingdom is embroiled in a political conflict between economic isolationism and globalism. An older generation favors “Brexit” while a younger generation wants to remain apart of the European Union. Underlying this issue is that of xenophobia; most literally interpreted as a fear of that which is alien — or, outsiders.
Meanwhile, Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, is very much an outsider to this divided parliamentary monarchy. Sussex is the first biracial member of the royal family, and she is American, to boot. And as much as the royalty and British press covered up Harry’s exploits, they were indisputably critical of foreigners. One BBC host tweeted a photo calling the couple’s child, Archie, a monkey. Meanwhile, another royal wore a racist brooch to meet Markle.
This issue harkens members of The Slate back to the community reaction when two Shippensburg residents were shot during an apparent drug deal; one, wounded and transported to a hospital, and another, killed. After the event, many voices in the community looked to drug issues and attributed the cause to “college students who bring drugs from Philadelphia and other urban areas when they come to school.”
Meanwhile, when a Shippensburg native overdosed on heroin last May, the community was filled with sorrow as they mourned their friend. And while there may be a disproportionate level of local fame or social presence between someone who lives full-time in Shippensburg and college students who spend only part of the year in the town, the difference between the reactions was noticeable.
Underlying this attitude is the idea that outsiders, sometimes of a different race but not necessarily so, worsen the community.
This is not true. We know that while individuals of different backgrounds, perspectives and ways of life can make us uncomfortable and challenge our own perceptions, they ultimately challenge us to be better versions of ourselves. A nuanced worldview is an enriched one of value, and we cannot achieve that value unless we accept those different than us.
Shippensburg may have a college, and the town and university may have two different cultures, but we are one community. To lose a member of that community is a tragedy, period. Love it or hate it, “outsiders” who come to learn here become part of our community. There is no use in pretending they are not.
If appeals to equality, acceptance and equal opportunity do not convince you, perhaps the economic ramifications of encouraging those ideals will.
Shippensburg is a small town with a downtown striving for growth, and Shippensburg University itself is a college suffering from budgetary issues and dropping enrollment rates. And it is the growth of “outsiders” to our town that will help us financially recover from the above financial difficulties and bring business to the town.
Outsiders are not our enemies, and we must remember this in a time of growing strife and political division.