- 12 Nov 21
Dora Gola shares her thoughts and experiences as part of 100 Voices: #AllAgainstRacism.
musician & vocal coach
Coming from a Polish background and knowing what’s happening in the country I’m from, I can tell that Ireland is probably the best country when it comes to treating people fairly regardless of their skin colour, where they come from, or the language they speak.
That is not to say there is no racism. When I came to Ireland, I really wanted to fit in. I worked on my accent so that nobody would know where I’m from. I wanted to be as ‘local’ as possible, as fast as possible. But then in the last two years, I was like, actually, you know what, that’s what makes me different to everyone else. I had to say, ‘Look, that’s what I’m doing. That’s me’.
The biggest issue these days is that there’s so much abuse online. And they say a lot to artists, because we show our faces, we show our voices. It’s this common misconception: “You’re showing your art, you’re a performer, so you are allowing us to point a finger at you.”
I did this article for the Irish Times a while ago, for the ‘New to the Parish’ section. There were people leaving horrible comments like, “Oh, why did you come here, if you thought it was going to be easy, or because you wanted to hide being Polish?”
There definitely should be stricter rules. There should be no space for any sort of bullying, especially online – because people think they can say and do anything when their face isn’t shown. The problem is that a lot of people say racist things without actually realising that it’s racist. People say things like, “Oh, but like you’re from Poland.” And it’s like, “Yeah, I’m from Poland, but how different does that make me? I’m literally the same as everyone else. I went to college here, I went to school here, and it doesn’t matter where you’re from.” When we start to categorise everyone, that’s when the problem is created.
I always believe that when we’re open to other cultures, nationalities and influences, you can bring something new to the music. That’s something that I applied in my own writing, and my own music. I started to explore all the influences from around the world that you can hear in my music. And I started to accept the Polish in me and accept the accent and bring it out. I work with someone who’s native Irish, but I’m native Polish. And a lot of songs that I write now are actually bilingual. I sing in English and in Polish. And we bring in a lot of world sounds from Africa and other parts of the world. That’s when the music gets really special, when you mix it all together and don’t exclude anything. That’s the way we should be with people too.
Read Part 1 of 100 Voices: #AllAgainstRacism, in the current issue of Hot Press. Available to pick up in shops now, or to order online below:
Special thanks to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission for their support in this project.