"Sometimes you meet someone who doesn’t know what they’re saying" - Author Melatu Uche Okorie on Ireland's casual racism
"Why can’t we talk to each other? Why can’t I make fun of something and then you make fun of something about me?"
Nigerian-born Melatu Uche Okorie arrived in Ireland 12 years ago seeking asylum, and spent eight-and-a-half years of the time since in direct provision.
Since then, Okorie has had a book published - this year's The Hostel Life - as well as being a PhD candidate at Trinity College, having already received an MA in Creative Writing.
The author is our guest on Ireland Unfiltered this week, speaking with host Dion Fanning on a number of issues including the crippling impact of direct provision, her opinion on the Irish Government and the daily racism encountered in this country.
On the episode, she discussed "casual racism" in this country, and spoke about how much of a touchy subject it can be.
Speaking about some of the awkward situations she has ended up in, she talks about instances when someone has said something completely inoffensive, but someone else interprets it as far worse than it actually was.
She said: "Sometime you meet someone who doesn’t know what they’re saying and they’re just talking. You might find someone who might say ‘I saw a Nigerian woman’s headscarf’ and they’re just describing something and you see someone kick them (to tell them to stop).
"What was that kicking about? You understand the other person - or whoever is describing the headscarf - is just talking."
"Does that make sense? It’s all those little things. Why can’t we talk to each other? Why can’t I make fun of something and then you make fun of something about me?"
You can watch the interview in full below:
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Ireland Unfiltered, brought to you in partnership with Carlsberg Unfiltered, will be available everywhere you get your podcasts and on YouTube every Tuesday.