Belfast Telegraph

Archie trolls shocked me to the core, says Belfast mum of mixed-race boy

Orla McKeating along with her six-year-old son Elliott, who recently suffered racist abuse
Orla McKeating along with her six-year-old son Elliott, who recently suffered racist abuse

By Stephanie Bell

A Belfast businesswoman whose young son is mixed raced has hit out at racist attacks on the new royal baby.

Orla McKeating said yesterday she was "shocked to the core" by reports that proud parents Meghan and Harry, who unveiled son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor to the world on Wednesday, had been attacked by racist trolls online.

Orla's six-year-old son Elliott recently suffered racist abuse.

Yesterday BBC radio broadcaster Danny Baker was sacked after being accused of posting a racist tweet about baby Archie.

Orla (36), who runs a coffee shop in south Belfast, said she knows how it feels to be the victim of racism and urged teachers and parents to have a conversation with children about the problem.

"The birth of the new royal baby has brought up racism and in 2019 it should not be an issue, but unfortunately it is," she said.

"We have so many different cultures now living in Northern Ireland and it is something we should welcome.

"The world is not white, Catholic or Protestant. We share it with everyone and that should be an easy concept to accept. We should respect each other."

Single parent Orla met her son's father, who is from the Congo, while living in Belgium, where she spent 10 years.

The couple split up and Orla returned home to Belfast to have her son in 2012.

"Elliott's father is Congolese and when Elliott was born he was very dark," she said.

"People used to just stare at me and stare at him and it was so obvious. I don't think that most people meant to be that indiscreet."

"Now that Elliott is a bit older, he is experiencing racism among other children. One child recently said he couldn't play because his skin was black and another of his peers told him that he was adopted and I got him in an orphan shop.

"It makes me really afraid for him and I think it is a conversation that needs to be had by parents and teachers with children.

"From the age of two, children have an understanding and we should be talking to them.

"It really upsets me and it makes me more determined to make Elliott aware and to become a more resilient person.

"I don't want him to think that is the norm and it certainly motivates me to try and bring about change and progress. I am confident it will happen."

Orla urged people on Facebook to have conversations to help change perceptions and insisted she believes Harry and Meghan will help bring about that change.

"It is really chilling and scary that people are attacking a new royal baby and it just shows that there is a lot still to be done to tackle racism," she said.

"I think that it's great there is more ethnicity in the royal family and I think it is a great reflection on Harry as a person.

"It will be a long road, but we all need to work together to address the problem."

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