Wednesday 21 August 2019

'People say things, makes gestures, and ask questions - they don't even know they're being racist'

A new campaign aims to tackle racism on public transport

A Luas driver has spoken about the racist taunts he received while driving a tram.

Lanre Bode Olatunji (46) was born in Nigeria but moved to Ireland 23 years ago.

He has driven a Luas tram since 2004 and has been subjected to racist comments frequently.

“People say things and make gestures and ask questions,” he said. “Sometimes they don’t even know they are being racist.”

Lanre said on a few occasions people have walked in front of the tram and made racist gestures at him.

“When I drive the tram, people come out in front of the tram and make monkey chants. I feel angry and hurt but there is nothing I can do. I keep on driving.”

Once an elderly man threatened to get him fired.

“He knocked on the cab door and said ‘I’m going to get you sacked you black b**tard’. That was shocking. I didn’t think an elderly person would do that.”

Despite these encounters, father-of-six Lanre hopes attitudes are changing.

“I think things are getting better. Raising awareness helps.”

Lanre was speaking at the launch of a new anti-racism campaign on public transport.

Hundreds of selfies donated by passengers have been amalgamated to create a large montage representing diversity on the Transport for Ireland (TFI) public transport network.

From 13 August to 15 August, commuters at Heuston Station are being invited to show their solidarity and take a stand against racism by donating a selfie to feature in the campaign and sharing on social media.

“This campaign is very important. It shows that the community stands together and supports us and that racist behaviour is not ok. We are all human beings and we need to treat each other with humanity.”

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