“It’s like you’re always fighting a losing battle. After yesterday people actually wanted to listen for the first time ever, in my eyes, when it comes to racism over here.”

Image from the January|February issue of Irish Country Magazine, ‘Women to Watch in 2020’

Singer-songwriter Erica Cody spoke about her experience of racism in Ireland and why she marched for justice for George Floyd at the weekend, in a powerful interview on the Six O’Clock Show on Tuesday. Speaking with presenters Muireann O’Connell and Martin King, the talented R&B artist described some of her experiences growing up in Ireland as a person of colour and explained why the protests in the USA are important here, too.

Erica explained that she has family in America and the past few days have been “heartbreaking”. “I’m half American, my family are all in America and they’re all black. They’re really feeling the heaviness of what’s going on over there at the moment and talking to my aunts the other day was just heartbreaking. I can’t sit here and not do something while I know not only my family are hurting, but my people are hurting.”

“This has been going on for so long and people need to realise that what’s happening in America is really, really horrible, but racism is still really alive in Ireland and people need to open their eyes to that. It’s not all plain sailing… It’s tough being a person of colour in Ireland, too.

“I experience it every day. I’m feeling it even more now ever since yesterday because people are outraged that we protested for racial justice. It’s been so many years trying to gain acceptance, trying to say something that’s so personal and close to home and always being diminished. It’s like you’re always fighting a losing battle. After yesterday people actually wanted to listen for the first time ever, in my eyes, when it comes to racism over here.”

From Dublin, Erica has been vocal throughout her career about experiencing racism growing up in Ireland. In the interview on Virgin Media Once, she touched on some of those awful experiences and urged viewers to educate themselves on the struggles of the black and minority communities here in Ireland.

“I’ve faced it pretty much my whole life. My Nana had me in a pram walking down the road when I was a kid and people would be yelling at her, ‘God not another black baby’. And that’s not even the half of it. It’s tough knowing that if I go to a concert someone’s just going to randomly touch my hair or call me this or that. It’s exhausting. We are so tired. There’s so much craziness in the world right now I can’t even wrap my head around it.

“People are angry and people are ready to be heard and this is not going to go away at all.”

Instagram @ericacody

Presenter Martin then asked Erica if racism is something Irish people find uncomfortable to talk about, to which she responded: “I’m sorry if it’s uncomfortable but I’ve been uncomfortable for years talking about race to people, especially being a minority.

“Irish people of colour are ready to tell their story and ready to be heard. We’ve been shut down most of our lives when it comes to taking about our struggles because it’s just not here and people have privilege and they don’t have to see it because it doesn’t affect them directly.

“And that’s what people need to take out of this, is that there are ways you can learn to appreciate and help our community, through educating people. It shouldn’t take a black person to educate you and tell you how they’re feeling all the time, it’s exhausting.”

To watch Erica’s full interview, see the video from the Six O’Clock Show below. To read more about ways you can support the fight against racism in America and in Ireland, click here.