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"My blackness was always diminished" | Erica Cody is only getting started

Singer-songwriter Erica Cody challenged the people of Ireland to inform themselves on the scourge...



Singer-songwriter Erica Cody challenged the people of Ireland to inform themselves on the scourge of racism and change their behaviour accordingly on Wednesday's OTB AM

The latest guest to feature on the OTB Culture Hall of Fame in association with NOW TV, Erica Cody deviated from the usual protocol on this segment to select a pair of books for induction.

Between Don't Touch My Hair by the Irish author Emma Dabiri and Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams, they are particularly apt texts given the backdrop against which Cody was speaking to Off The Ball.

"People of colour right now are really tired," she explained of the events and outpouring of anger and frustration that has followed the death of a black American man George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer. "I know for me the last week has been extremely overwhelming and exhausting.

"My heart has been ridiculously heavy for my family in the US and I've just not been OK because I know my family weren't OK."

A popular Dublin artist who has regularly used her platform to address racism in Ireland, as she explained in conversation with OTB AM and regularly explores in her music, the experience of being racially abused while growing up in this country has made an indelible impression on her.

"We have to remind ourselves that 'black' is not merely a descriptive term for skin colour," reads Dabiri's landmark work selected by Cody, "rather, it is a historically loaded ideology."

Much like Emma Dabiri, Erica Cody is doing what she can to rearrange its harmful connotations.

"This period has been a massive awakening for me because it is something I've felt so passionate about for so many years," she explained, "but whenever you had these kinds of conversations people would question me and what I was saying about my experience.

"It taught me to keep my mouth shut."

The daughter of a black American man, Cody's upbringing in Ireland occurred in predominately white surroundings. Reliant upon her father to explain the very idea of what her skin colour meant and her paternal heritage, she became a regularly target for hostility.

"My blackness was always diminished," she remarked of growing up in Dublin. "I was very badly bullied, physically and emotionally, and people would tell me, 'Oh, you're not white enough because your Dad is black, but you're not black enough because you don't live with your Dad.'

"My Nana and my Mam were always having to come in to my primary school because of racial slurs, bullying, people shouting monkey noises at me everyday in school - it was just overwhelming, it was unbearable."

In a wide-ranging discussion that can be watched back in full here, Erica Cody adamantly outlined that people will no longer have the luxury of taking an anti-racist stance, but doing nothing.

Calling on people to inform themselves and not rely entirely on people of colour to explain how they should act, racism has to be treated as an issue that requires each willing individual to act for the benefit of the targeted and abused.

"We need to be calling out racism if it occurs among a group of friends," she noted. "We need to be calling out family members if they are speaking in that way.

"It's time to have these uncomfortable conversations in a predominately white society. It about a lot more than just posting a black square."

Catch up on previous episodes of The OTB Culture Hall of Fame:

Episode One - Andy Lee on the magic of Rocky III.

Episode Two - Dermot Kennedy on his obsession with Gladiator.

Episode Three - Stefanie Preissner on The US Office.

Episode Four - Kenny Cunningham on his love of classic British comedies.

Episode Five Derry Girls star Louisa Harland on Italian mafia series Gomorrah.

Episode Six - Joe Cole on starring in gangster drama Gangs of London.

Episode Seven - Writer Paul Howard explains his love for Columbo. 

Episode Eight - Director of Normal People Lenny Abrahamson inducts Detectorists. 

The OTB Culture Hall of Fame is brought to you by NOW TV, where you can stream classic Box Sets, the latest award-winning TV shows and unmissable movies with a new premier every day. Visit nowtv.com to check out the wide variety of great entertainment and movie options.


Read more about

Don't Touch My Hair Emma Dabiri Erica Cody Ireland Now TV OTB Culture Hall Of Fame Racism

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