"I didn't realise I was black until I moved to Naas.." - activist

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"I didn't realise I was black until I moved to Naas.." - activist
17:45 Tuesday 12th of March 2019

Social activist Deborah Somorin revealed she didn't realise she was black until she moved to Naas!

Deborah has an extraordinary story. Homeless at 13, she became pregnant at 14 and has since carved out a successful career for herself and looked after her son through hard work and dedication.

Deborah was a guest on this week's Ireland Unfiltered with Dion Fanning and she spoke at length about her early life and how she got to where she is today.

Her parents were from Nigeria and they moved to Naas when she was young, which was quite a culture shock for Deborah at the time.

She outlined the dramatic change and what it was like meeting some people who had "never seen a black person before".

Deborah: said: "I didn’t actually realise I was black until I moved to Naas!

"Things like just going around and people staring at you like you had ten heads, you know, and again this comes back to I had to go through a period of understanding so I didn’t feel like this was racism - this was literally the fact that some people had never seen a black person before and that’s why they’re staring at you.

"So it’s really important to go through that journey so you understand, and then obviously some people ask you some very uncomfortable questions and you have to go ‘what?’.

"You know, I don’t even know, like ‘do they have mobile phones in Africa?’ and things like that, and you’re just like ‘are you..like, what?’

"And again you have to understand that this comes from a place of this person doesn’t know, this person literally thinks that you’re like an alien from this completely different thing.

"Like, to this person you’re not the same as them and you have to understand that you need to go through a period of discussion and understanding and just be compassionate to people."

After the breakup of her marriage, Deborah’s mum moved the family from Nigeria to Ireland, three children in tow, and settled in Naas, but things weren’t easy for Deborah growing up

Deborah’s mum suffered from severe depression and Deborah’s situation became increasingly difficult as the years went by and she found herself in care by 11 and homeless at 13.

Deborah had to leave in the mornings, head to the Focus Ireland offices to do her homework during the day and returned in the evening, with no guarantee of a bed. Things started to look up when Deborah was given a place in private residential care at 14 with two other girls.

Then Deborah found herself pregnant with son Liam at age 14.

Just 8 weeks after her son's birth, she sat her Junior Cert mock exams, went on to complete her Leaving Cert, studied accounting in DCU and landed her dream job in accountancy firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

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