We recently learned that Meghan Markle is an expensive woman to hear from, with speaking fees to the tune of $1 million. But teenage burn victim Althea Bernstein had a very different kind of exchange with the Duchess of Sussex, who asked for Bernstein’s personal phone number after hearing the tragic story of her attack. Bernstein, a Madison, Wisconsin resident, had her face set on fire by white men yelling racial slurs, and the attack is being investigated as a hate crime. Markle was so moved by Bernstein’s story that she reached out to the teen personally to offer her support in her recovery, and the women reportedly bonded over their experiences as biracial women.
Since her attack, 18-year-old Bernstein has appointed Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County President Michael Johnson as her spokesperson. Johnson spoke to Madison’s Channel 3000 about Meghan’s call with the teen, which the Duchess herself reached out to set up.
On the phone with Prince Harry and Meghan Markel the Duchess of Sussex. Prince Harry shared that young people voices matter and Meghan has agreed to talk with girls in Wisconsin and we will be scheduling that soon. Thank you for caring! pic.twitter.com/FoVs6ewRgo
— Michael Johnson (@MJohnsonCEO) June 27, 2020
“Her and Meghan talked about the importance of self care and allowing herself to heal,” Johnson shared. “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.'”
Meghan and Prince Harry (who also hopped on the phone for a few minutes) were both impressed with how Bernstein had been handling herself after the attack. But Meghan had some specific advice as a fellow biracial woman who has been the target of some racially-motivated attacks of her own.
In addition to the importance of self-care, Meghan suggested that Bernstein stay off social media and avoid any negative comments, Johnson revealed. He said Meghan and the teen connected over being biracial, and discussed how their faith could support them.
“I don’t have any room for hate or for holding grudges so I hope these men see what happened to me and choose to make a change in their lives.”
— Michael Johnson (@MJohnsonCEO) June 26, 2020
It looks like Meghan and Bernstein had no trouble keeping a rapport — the call lasted around 40 minutes total, with Meghan agreeing to come back and conduct a virtual town hall for Wisconsin youth alongside Bernstein.
“As I heard her, I thought ‘She has to talk to more kids,’ and I’m thankful she agreed to do it,” Johnson said of Markle. And he wasn’t the only one affected by the call from the Duchess. Though Bernstein is naturally still recovering from the shock and pain of her attack, a phone call from Meghan Markle put a smile on her face.
“She’s struggling. It’s a challenge for her, it’s very, very emotional,” Johnson explained. “I talked to her three or four times today, and I’ll tell you Meghan lifted her spirits.”
That’s our Meghan Markle — changing lives one day at a time.