CW: This episode of Be Grand features descriptions of racist attitudes and their impacts, which may cause distress.
Joining Andy in the Be Grand schoolyard this week is Boni Odoemene, co-founder of the Black And Irish Instagram account, which aims to highlight and celebrate the struggles and successes of Ireland’s black community. At a time when the brutal injustices and cruel prejudices inflicted on black people have rarely been more apparent, Boni explains why the perception of black culture and history in Ireland needs to be fundamentally reassessed, starting with how changing the narrative in the Irish education system can help our society evolve and eradicate anti-black attitudes. Boni also describes some of the truly vile and disgusting acts of racism he and his siblings have suffered, the trauma of which once led him to contemplate bleaching his own skin.
This will understandably be a difficult listen for some and Boni deserves enormous admiration and respect for his openness and willingness to discuss what he’s endured. But the chat also features some of Boni’s most joyous school experiences, such as the intricacies of schoolboy football and the importance of the perennial schoolyard currency that is Football Sticker collection. To top it all off there is the usual Be Grand silliness taking in Friday night excursions to Xtra Vision (sadly missed) and an absolute masterclass in how to do a Leaving Cert resit based on those two cornerstones of education - 1920’s cinema and, the sound of this and every other summer, Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”.
This was one of the most important episodes we think we’ve produced. It was an honour to chat to a gent like Boni and maybe with the work and advocacy exhibited by groups like Black And Irish, the world may one day become a better place.
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