- 02 Dec 21
Read DJ and producer Cici Cavanagh's thoughts and experiences on racism in Ireland below.
Personally, I have never really been a victim of much racism, but I also have been aware that it does exist. I feel like, sometimes, Irish people maybe can say things that are racist, but they think that because they’re saying it, that there’s no harm, that it’s not racist. But it can be quite a blurred line between what people think they say that’s harmless, and also what they say which is not.
I definitely believe it’s super-important to try and eradicate any kind of racism of any kind: there’s no place in the world for it anymore. In terms of my experience in Ireland, it’s great to see that there are a lot more people of colour and minorities being represented in Irish mainstream media, which wasn’t really so prevalent when I was growing up.
Ireland wasn’t synonymous with rap and R&B and stuff like that, but there’s a lot of breakthrough artists coming through at the moment, like Denise Chaila. That has to be a good thing.
No one is born racist. You’re taught to be racist. So I think it’s about trying to change the pattern of the things that we have been taught. I don’t feel it’s easy to change an older generation’s mindset. It has to start from the next generation. It’s really important to instil these things when people are young – that it’s not the way the world works anymore – or it shouldn’t be.
I haven’t lived in Ireland for about 10 years, but I have seen progression happen in Ireland. I think it’s got to do with internet culture. It’s the fact that now we’re so connected to everyone else around the world on our phones. There are fewer degrees of separation culturally between us and everyone else.
There’s a huge Black and Irish community. There’s an Instagram page called ‘Black and Irish’, and it tells the stories of many different people of colour in Ireland. It’s nice to see that. Even for me, I don’t look typically Irish, but I am Irish. I was born in Ireland. Both my birth parents are Irish. And even for me, I go somewhere and people are like, “Where are you from?” I’ll be like, “I’m Irish,” and they’ll be like, “You don’t look Irish.”
I want to ask: ‘Well, what does a typical Irish person look like to you? The fact that you can think that I don’t fit the racial profile of someone you would deem as Irish, in a way shows that people are a little bit behind on what it means to be Irish in 2021. We’re not all pale and freckled’.
I live in Spain at the moment, and people will ask me where I’m from and be like “Oh, but you don’t look Irish” or “You can’t be Irish.” There’s people that have come to accept that other cultures are more diverse, like in London or the UK. I feel like with Ireland, people are still a tiny bit behind the fact that you can be as culturally diverse as any other place in the world.
This contribution featured in Part 2 of 100 Voices: #AllAgainstRacism. Read the current issue of Hot Press below:
Special thanks to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission for their support in this project.