What does Straight Outta Compton mean? The racist tabloid headline used to describe Meghan Markle explained

A tabloid headline has been highlighted as an example of racism aimed at Meghan Markle

Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 1:12 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 11:03 am

Meghan Markle’s and Prince Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey has highlighted some of the racist coverage levelled at the Duchess of Sussex by the UK media.

During the sit-down interview the Duke of Sussex said that many headlines about his wife had "colonial undertones”.

This isn’t the first time Harry has addressed dogwhistling coverage of his wife. In 2016 following news of their relationship he criticised the “racial undertones” of coverage from the UK press.

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Harry has described some of the coverage of his relationship with Meghan Markle as having "racial" and "colonial" undertones (ITV)

A statement issued by the Royal Communications Secretary in November 2016 read: "His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment. Some of this has been very public - the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments."

One of the most notorious headlines from the Mail Online described Markle as "straight outta Compton”.

The headline has regained attention in recent days following claims by Society of Editors head Ian Murray that coverage of Meghan Markle hasn’t been bigoted or racist.

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What was the Mail Online story?

On November 2, the Mail Online published a story titled “Harry's girl is (almost) straight outta Compton: Gang-scarred home of her mother revealed - so will he be dropping by for tea?”

The story profiled the home of Markle’s mother in Crenshaw, Los Angeles, some 14 miles away from Compton.

The article painted the neighbourhood as “plagued by crime and riddled with street gangs” before highlighting “crimes noted over the past seven days include multiple drug-related misdemeanors, vehicle thefts, vandalism and disturbing the peace.”

It adds that Crenshaw is “a cluster of Los Angeles boroughs famous for gangs”.

The same article includes quotes from Meghan discussing life as someone who is mixed race.

What does Straight Outta Compton mean?

Straight Outta Compton was the debut record of rap group N.W.A.

The album details Compton's street violence and gangster culture experienced by members of the group Arabian Prince, MC Ren, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, DJ Yella and Dr. Dre.

The group are considered one of the most, if not the most significant, trailblazers of the gangster rap genre.

Title track Straight Outta Compton opens with the lyric “Straight outta Compton, crazy m********r named Ice Cube / From the gang called N***** With Attitudes”.

To label someone as Straight Outta Compton, is to suggest that they come from a world similar to that painted by the members of N.W.A. in their seminal album.

Why has the Mail Online story been labelled racist by some?

The Mail Online story focuses on the black heritage of Markle’s mother and attempts to paint Markle’s background as one surrounded by drugs, gangs and violence.

The title claims that Markle is “almost straight outta compton” insinuating that she comes from a life of crime, despite living over ten miles from Compton in a predominantly middle class neighbourhood.

Many have suggested that the website targeted Markle due to her mixed race.

The headline was covered during an interview between BBC presenter Victoria Derbyshire and head of The Society of Editors Ian Murray after the latter claimed it was “not acceptable” to label sections of the UK press as “bigoted”.

During the exchange Derbyshire presented Murray with the Mail Online headline, asking if he deemed it bigoted or racist.

He said that it was “disputed” whether the headline was offensive and suggested that it was instead a “rags to riches” story.