Duchess Meghan Speaks to a Young Woman Who Was the Victim of an Alleged Hate Crime

The duchess connected with Althea Bernstein, an 18-year-old Black woman, whose assault is being investigated by police.

Duchess Meghan (opens in new tab) and Prince Harry (opens in new tab) may have delayed the launch of their forthcoming organization, Archewell (opens in new tab), but the couple continues to work on social justice projects (opens in new tab) behind the scenes.

This week, the Duchess of Sussex made a personal phone call to Althea Bernstein, a young Black woman from Madison who was allegedly the victim of a horrifying racist hate crime, per the Wisconsin outlet Channel 3000 (opens in new tab).

Bernstein told authorities that she was in her car at an intersection on Wednesday when she heard someone yell a racial slur, CBS News (opens in new tab) reports. Then, four white men approached her and one of them sprayed what is believed to be lighter fluid on her face and threw a flaming lighter at her through the open car window, burning her skin.

The president of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, Michael Johnson (opens in new tab), connected Bernstein with Duchess Meghan for a 40 minute phone call, according to Channel 3000 (opens in new tab). Johnson told the publication, "[Bernstein] and Meghan talked about the importance of self care and allowing herself to heal. And she applauded her for the way that she responded and pretty much said, 'Hey Michael, give me her cellphone number. I want to stay in touch. And let me know when you want me to come back and talk to people in Wisconsin.'"

NBC15 (opens in new tab) reported that, per Johnson, Meghan and Bernstein also discussed being biracial, and the duchess offered her profuse support and encouraged Bernstein to avoid social media for her wellbeing. Prince Harry also joined the call for 10 minutes, according to Johnson.

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In a tweet, Johnson said that Harry reinforced his belief that young people's voices must be uplifted and listened to. The Sussexes continue to make it clear that, despite stepping down as senior royals, they're still very much committed to issues of social justice (opens in new tab).

As well as personally reaching out to Bernstein following news of the devastating attack, Meghan and Harry also offered their support to the youth of Madison. Johnson tweeted, "On the phone with Prince Harry and Meghan... the Duchess of Sussex. Prince Harry shared that young people['s] voices matter and Meghan has agreed to talk with girls in Wisconsin and we will be scheduling that soon. Thank you for caring!"

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