Big Brother presenter AJ Odudu has recently opened up about the racism she encountered during her childhood in Blackburn, Lancashire. In a candid interview on Gyles Brandreth's Rosebud podcast, the 35-year-old TV personality shared incidents that occurred as early as when she was just nine years old.
Growing up in Blackburn, where she rarely encountered people of color outside her family, AJ expressed feeling like she stood out from a young age. She recalled instances where people touched her hair and questioned the color of the palms of her hands, which left her feeling confused and prompted discussions with her mother about her Nigerian heritage.
Being one of the few Nigerian children in her school, AJ revealed that she didn't enjoy the attention she received for looking different. She recalled how her height, hair, skin color, and voice set her apart from her classmates, leading to teasing and unkind comments. As she got older, the unkindness increased, often driven by parents' influence on their children.
AJ shared a heart-wrenching story about a close friendship she had to end because her best friend's father disapproved of their relationship due to AJ being black. She vividly remembered the moment her friend told her they couldn't play together anymore because her father didn't want her associating with AJ. This experience served as a stark realization that the world wasn't as kind and innocent as she had believed.
The racism AJ faced extended beyond hurtful words and disapproving parents. She shared horrifying incidents, such as having dogs set on her and even being hit on the head by a banana thrown from a passing car. Despite these traumatic encounters, AJ tried to block out the negativity and push it to the back of her mind.
AJ's story sheds light on the harsh realities of racism and the lasting impact it can have on individuals from a young age. Her openness about her experiences highlights the need for continued efforts to tackle racism and promote inclusivity in society.
The full interview with AJ Odudu on Gyles Brandreth's Rosebud podcast can be accessed on major platforms every Friday.