Anthony Ekundayo Lennon - Actor. Director. Genetic Echo.

September 16, 2021 00:55:06
Anthony Ekundayo Lennon - Actor. Director. Genetic Echo.
The Plastic Podcasts
Anthony Ekundayo Lennon - Actor. Director. Genetic Echo.
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Show Notes

Born to white Irish parents in West London, but with the colouring and facial features of a mixed race child, Anthony’s appearance led to family strife, police harassment,  and – eventually – accusations of “passing” as black in order to gain Arts Council funds. The subsequent media and Twitter storm – along with Anthony’s lifelong struggle to be accepted for who he is – is as fascinating as it is emotional.

We’re grateful to him for sharing his story with us.

Plus Joanna (“Jo”) Neary raises Lucia Joyce up onto The Plastic Pedestal.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:21 How you doing? I'm Doug <inaudible> and you're listening to the plastic podcasts, tales of the Irish diaspora. Now in its fifth series, can you believe it five? They said it would never last, in fact, we're onto our 24th interview and you could argue that this is our most emotionally intense. Uh, certainly it gets to the heart of what these podcasts are about questions of identity. Often that's about whether you choose an identity or have one chosen for you, but in the case of Anthony Ekin DIU linen, there's also the question of whether other people get to decide your identity for you. Both Anthony and his younger brother, Vincent were born to two white Irish parents in west London, but with the facial characteristics, hair and color of two mixed race boys, despite a youth of family strife and police harassment, Anthony found success as an actor and director working with the RSC, Debbie Allen and tallow, a theater company. He identified as, and was identified as a black actor. He made no secret of his white RS parentage Bart. On the 2nd of November, 2018, he received a phone call that threatened his career, his identity and his personal safety. We'll talk more of that later, but first as ever, Anthony, I can die. You Lennon, how you doing? Speaker 2 00:01:39 I'm good. I'm good. It's, it's another moment where, when I'm about to have a conversation with somebody about my life experience, it feels a tiny bit surreal, but I'm good. Do you feel like you stepping out of yourself? Um, so actually that's not a bad description. There is a little bit of our bodies that sometimes does take place because I'm very aware of how I perceive myself, how I feel. And especially obviously because of the media storm of 2018, um, I'm very aware of how other people view me and see me and feel about me is the way that you see Speaker 1 00:02:24 Yourself constantly Speaker 2 00:02:26 Fluctuating. No, what, what I mean by how, how I see myself, I've always seen the same reflection in the mirror. I think it's good for us as human beings to constantly remind ourselves that we haven't always known what anything is. You know, there was once upon a time that I didn't even know what a mirror was. And then when I noticed the mirror or a mirror, I wouldn't have known that it was called that life is a continual succession of learning, you know, but as regards my reflection, my reflection has never changed. Obviously it's aged as we all do every year, but the features, the eyes, the hair, the shape of my nose, the shape of my lips, my bone structure, my cheekbones, it's always been relatively the same. Obviously when I was tinier, I maybe would have lots, a little bit more fatter in the face. Speaker 2 00:03:21 Um, but what has changed is the eyes or the mindset through which I see that image. And a lot of that shift in awareness and consciousness most definitely took place. When I had an opportunity to have conversations with other people who I shared the same physical characteristics with whether they were over a light skin complexion or a dark skin complexion, um, I was able to have brilliant, inspiring, beautiful conversations about shared histories. The face has remained the same, but the thought processes and the level of consciousness has definitely shifted over the years. So let's start with your mum and dad. Yes, that's right. Yeah. Um, my dad, Patrick Lennon, he was born in Trumbull county Waterford, which is, um, Southeast coast of Ireland. And he was born in 37. And my mum, um, obviously before becoming a Lennon, uh, Josephine O'Brien, she was born in Shirley county Kerry, which is more about the Southwest and she was born in 34 and they, um, they both in quite independently of each other in the late fifties left their hometown, left their immediate family and made the trip across the sea to what many at the time were calling the mother country and not just in Ireland. Speaker 2 00:04:44 Um, and obviously most of us kind of know the story, even if it's not specifically to do with Ireland. Um, it was about individuals leaving one place to resettle in another, in the hope of making and creating a better life for themself and any future family that they might hope to go on to have. And how did they meet? They met, um, from what I'm told, they met at a dance in Camden and, uh, I think it was, uh, it was a combination. It was an alchemy of dance that went on at this event. So there was sometimes literally ballroom dancing happening. Um, I think some people may have been there kind of teaching it, and it was also just the way for people to, you know, meet each other and meet people from the locality as well. Um, and then there was also traditional Irish dancing going on, sometimes Irish music being played. Speaker 2 00:05:39 Um, and sometimes people just listening to music that might've been on the recording, you know, again, just, uh, an opportunity for people to socialize. Um, apparently my dad arrived at this dance and within seconds of seeing my mum turns to his friend and said, if I'm not married to that woman within the next few years, there's something wrong in the world after that thing that they call them, oh gosh, there's this thing that people used to do many, many moons ago, courting courting after a while of courting. Um, yeah, he obviously popped the question. Mom said yes. And, um, yeah, they got married on the 12th of December, 1959. Speaker 3 00:06:20 Uh, what is it your parents did? Speaker 2 00:06:23 Oh gosh. At the time of my birth, I think my dad had, I think on the birth certificate, it says laborer. And I think my mum was working in a canteen somewhere. Um, I used to think that she used to work around the time of my birth at Pattinson green police station in the canteen. But my mom over the years has corrected me and said, you're right about that. I did once work at Pattinson green police station in the canteen, but it wasn't around the time that you were born. So, um, I, I, for some reason I still have this memory there around the time of my birth. There's nothing written on the birth certificate about what my mom was doing. Um, it's quite patriarchal and through the, the male line, my best to forget as, as with most of us. Um, but yeah, I just get this sense that mum was either working in the canteen or maybe, you know, sometimes mum would make ends meet by doing cleaning. Um, you know, just kind of like work like half of them. Speaker 3 00:07:24 Um, you are Chris and Anthony David asked, right? Uh, those, those family names. Speaker 2 00:07:30 Yeah. Yeah. Um, I'm still seeking out who the David might've been, although there is a brother that's still with us called David. So there, there is, uh, uh, David Lennon. Um, but around the time of my birth years before David would have been born, um, I'm not sure who the other David would have been in the family line. Um, but yeah, I was definitely born. That's definitely what you sit on. The birth certificate, Anthony David Lennon. Speaker 3 00:07:54 It seems that your dad had a kind of almost romantic view of the way that, uh, he and your mother got together. You know, that, that sense that somehow they were fated to be. Um, and there was a couple of years of courting and all this sort of thing, and everything was done in a very psychic, almost storybook sort of way, Speaker 2 00:08:12 From what I understand, not only, not only my mum and dad, but those who were around them, whether it was like brothers, sisters, um, just local people in the community. It, it was as if they were described as the perfect couple. It was this, it was as if they were described as having each one had met their soulmate. My dad was besotted. My mum was definitely in love. Um, she used to talk about how lucky she felt she was because he, because he was so handsome, um, it was, it, you know, it was as if it was described as a matching heaven, literally. Speaker 3 00:08:54 And then of course, Speaker 2 00:08:55 And I'm going to tread as carefully as I can where this concern, but then it goes soccer. Uh, you come along and your features don't resemble those of your mom or your dad. Yeah. 28th of November, 1965. I was born in St. Mary's hospital, Hara road. Um, the particular hospital that I was born in just by the grand union canal, it's no longer there it's been demolished to make way for private flats. Um, but actually ironically having just used the word demolished effectively it's as if that's what happened to my mum and dad's relationship. My arrival was like a bomb hit in the family. Um, it tore the family apart within a matter of weeks. And definitely as the months roll by my dad not only had a suspicion that may be possibly his soulmate had slept with another man behind his back, had an affair. It's taken me a while over the years to realize, trying to look at it as best as I can through my dad's perspective. Speaker 2 00:10:08 It wasn't that he thought it wasn't. He suspected, he must've felt that he knew because for him, what I looked like, didn't tally with what he looked like, um, with what mum looked like. So the automatic assumption, especially back then would have been, who does this child belong to? Because this is not my son. Um, I'm told by a few people in their family that those years of my existence specifically, and especially before Vincent arrived, because obviously then Vincent's arrival then added another dimension to the narrative. But before Vincent arrived, the Lennon family went through hell, how did they remain together? I have no idea, but they obviously did remain together. But any name that you could imagine? My mom being called, she was called it and not just by my dad, but by family on both sides. Um, she was effectively kept under. It would be wrong to call it a form of house arrest. Speaker 2 00:11:16 It wasn't like she wasn't allowed to go out, but it became very, very apparent to her after a short amount of time that whenever she did go out, there were people literally keeping an eye on her. She was being watched because it was as if people were still in the middle of this tornado of trying to seek out, find out inquire as to who this man must be really is there must be a moment when she's going to go and visit him again. Not realizing that this had nothing to do with my mum, being all the imagine names. You could imagine her being called, but the fact that this was something within the gene pool, this is something within the family lineage and ancestry, but my mum went through hell and what that must have done to her psychology, to be being accused of having slept behind your husband's back and not just by him, but by other members of the family as well. Speaker 2 00:12:13 What that must've done to her while also attempting to bond with me herself. That's something that I don't think I'll ever be able to get my head around. Like I remember I'm imagining now all the years listening to me speaking, and I'm not, I, I would love to offer you this question. So I imagine let's imagine a few, a few people listening to me might describe himself as, as why or why Irish let's imagine that some of you have a partner and let's imagine that maybe that partner you might describe as why or why Irish. Imagine you both find that you're you're pregnant soon and nine months later, your first child is born and your child looks like a child of both. Why Irish and African or African Caribbean heritage. I wonder what that would do to you. Speaker 1 00:13:20 You're listening to the plastic podcasts. We all come from somewhere else. Find out more about [email protected] Given the tensions within the Lennon household, it's perhaps inevitable that Anthony's parents were divorced by the time he was 13. I wonder if he and Vincent were made to feel responsible for the split. Speaker 2 00:13:42 I don't think we felt I'm recording conversations. That me and Vincent had. We, we didn't feel like it was our fault, but we definitely had a feeling that we wish that wasn't happening. And we definitely had a feeling of wishing we could turn the clock back to, for example, just going out with mum or dad to wherever south end Clapton Margate, um, which by the way, I should tell you, I have no memories and neither did Vinson. We had no memories of us ever being out as a family socially, um, in relation to maybe going out to the seaside, et cetera. And we could never make sense of it. Sometimes my mum would take me or us. Sometimes my dad would take me or us, but it was never together. It was only a few years ago that I was told by, um, a cousin that there was a story behind that. Speaker 2 00:14:47 And apparently there was a decision made in the Lennon family that they were to stop. Mum and dad were going to stop taking us out together as a family on trips because they just couldn't stand all the stairs or the people looking at them. And sometimes even going further than that, but coming up to them and saying, hope you don't mind asking, but are these your children or have you adopted them or are they, are you foster parents? Because again, to the eyes of others viewing this family about to go and sit on the sand in south end, it looked like a white man and woman with two mixed heritage mixed race, or back in those days, half CAF boys, Speaker 3 00:15:25 It feels to me like you were living in a kind of no man's land as it were of identity. I'm not black enough to be black to a certain extent because you don't necessarily have black parents there, but also you're, you're, you're kind of cut away from the, the, the, the Irish aspect of that because the white, Irish, white Irish families, and then kind of, uh, placing judgment upon you. I mean, is this making sense as up as a summary at all? Or am I just supposed to Speaker 2 00:15:48 No, no, it doesn't make sense to a degree. I definitely have memories of there, there were moments through my childhood when we were being introduced to members of our family, immediate family, extended family, and also local Irish community. Um, or sometimes not so local, it may be another virus of London. And I just remembered feeling that there was a nonacceptance going on, that there was a distance, there was a question mark. There was a feeling of you're not from us. You're not of us ironically though. Um, and of course for me in Vincent, it was weird at home because we'd be going through experiences outside the house, um, in relation to racism and racist attacks, whether they are physical or verbal, but then the very people that we might usually have wanted, or you would expect most people would expect those two children to then go home to and talk to about it, or get advice from where people who look like the people who were outside abusing us. Speaker 2 00:16:52 If that makes sense. So we wouldn't, we wouldn't bring it up. Or if we did try to tentatively bring it up, what we would realize we would hit not a wall of silence, but a reaction of, are you sure it really happened like that? Or especially if it was anything to do with being stopped by the police, it would be well, but you must've been doing something or where were you or who were you with? Or, you know, just a question in, or, or, or them trying to confirm, is that really how you best remember it? Um, and then after a while, it was also an awareness for me and Vincent that even if they were genuinely trying to understand what may be had just happened on the street or at school, or again, having a, um, a meeting with the police on the street, there was, there was, uh, uh, it would Dawn on us very, very quickly that they just didn't get it. Speaker 2 00:17:42 Didn't understand and appreciate it didn't feel how we felt, but the balance to that thank goodness was that the black community outside of the house, they see it, they did get it, they did appreciate it. And when I say it's, I mean, the experience or the experiences that may have been similar going through it didn't matter to them that we were of light-skinned complexion. They identify just as being, as light-skinned black, whether some of them knew about my immediate parents or not. It didn't matter. It wasn't an issue for them because it was about a shared experience. So luckily there were times when, well, especially me, I know that I have many, many, many, many memories of being able to sit down with someone or a couple or within a youth club setting and speak to people who would not only identify with an incident that may be just taking place, but were we able to give me advice or give me support or just, you know what, just on a simple thing, just give me a hug man, and just say, it's okay. Speaker 2 00:18:44 And it doesn't last forever and I've got your back. Um, I may be next time you walk through that area, maybe we can both go together. You know, just, just that comradeship, just that, um, kinship of, you're not alone in this and we get it, me, me and Vincent, we would constantly, we would constantly get stopped by the police from Pattinson green and, um, how I rode and, uh, the station down, uh, Notting hill gate. Um, and I remember being so young, I mean, young teenagers that I think we just thought, oh, this is just, this is just kind of like this, this is, this just happens. This is just what happens, but then we'd get to school. And these stops would happen either on the way to school or after school or weekends. But then whenever we were next in school and sometimes talking to our white friends, they'd be like, why did the police stop you? Speaker 2 00:19:45 What did the police want? What did you do? Or, oh, are you in trouble with the police? Ah, does your dad know? And we'd be like, hold on. Well, I still remember conversations with white friends that went something like, how many times did you get stopped by the police over the weekend? And they look at me like I was mad. They'd be like, why are you asking? Cause I was stopped three times. I was thought once on Saturday and twice on Sunday, Vincent was stopped like four times on, on Saturday. And he, they D they weren't able to get him on Sunday because he just ran away. And our white friends would look at us like, what planet are you both living on? And, and it was a slight. Yeah. And then, especially as we got older, we would realize, oh, hold on. There's something different going on here. Speaker 2 00:20:32 Something that these police officers, officers seem to be seeing and identifying those characteristics with a psychology in their head that equates with something negative, bad needs to be stopped and questioned. Um, and then after a while, yeah, it didn't take too short time before I'm hearing stories related to me by friends who have revealed the light skin or dark skin complexion, you know, black friends telling me about not only being stopped, but being beaten, um, having drugs planted on them and arrested for it. Um, I mean, yeah, it was very strange days, very strange days. We're talking now like late seventies and during the eighties. Speaker 3 00:21:14 So this is the period of the SaaS laws. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:21:16 Yeah. I mean, if somebody had come up to me at the beginning of it all and said, tell me about sauce. Those words would have gone right over my head. I would have had no idea what you were talking about. Um, I'm hoping today for, for the majority of us. Um, even if it's just by virtue of having read a newspaper article, or even if it's just by virtue of having seen maybe a documentary on the television, there's an awareness of that era, um, in the UK. Um, and what has come to be known as the software. Speaker 3 00:21:48 I mean, obviously around about that time as well, where the Irish community concerned, of course, you've got the prevention of terrorism act and, and the feeling that you're also a suspect community, what was your reaction to it? And I ask this because, um, it's a roundabout, this type also you take up acting and drama. Speaker 2 00:22:03 I think a youth leader or well, social services had identified. My family has been a problem family. And what I mean by that is, and I don't know where this would have come from or how it would have been identified, I imagine. And this is purely me guessing simply because of just other people I've spoken to in the family and friends who have had a shared experience that I've just met over the years to do a social services and stories from back in the day. Um, I'm imagining that it might've been from school, that there may have been a concern with me and Vincent as regards to just how introvert we were, how quiet we were, um, for a period of time Vincent or myself, we seem to have some form of stutter as well. Um, and we seem to have some form of change. Speaker 2 00:22:54 Well, I can only best describe as a nervous tick. Um, I don't know if I'm going to do a very good job at describing what it would look like, but if you were talking to us, this is around the time of primary school, early primary school. Uh, and then yeah, the, the latter days of primary school, where sometimes we would try to hide it, but because we were obviously aware that something didn't feel right and we would try our best to hide it, but we obviously weren't IDing it well enough, we'd be in conversation with you. And we would kind of roll our eyes up. We'd rolled our eyes up in our eyelids, if that makes sense to the left or to the right, or just in the middle, we, we were just in an unaware way. Um, and I've got memories of sometimes know friends at school saying, why are you doing that with your eyes on? Speaker 2 00:23:48 I blatantly clearly remember saying what doing what I had no idea what they were talking about. So I'm not sure if it was, it fits by virtue of that, if you know what I mean, but obviously these two children have been identified that maybe just needed some kind of extra support or assistance, or, you know, what, what, what are these nervous ticks and why do they sometimes stutter and why are they being so quiet? Um, so yeah, there was definitely a file I imagine started for the Lennon family. Um, and then what I remember we were given kind of, um, counseling or, or kind of treatment. Sometimes we'd go to sessions with a speech therapist, or sometimes we'd go and see another person that would help us with, I remember doing exercises, we'd be doing exercises with our eyes. We would, we'd be asked to be looking at different things around the room or on a chart. Speaker 2 00:24:39 Um, and I imagine it was just to do with seeing and to find a way just to kind of lock down control of our eyes or making us more aware of our eyes and where we're looking and why we're looking. Um, and then aside from that just sessions with different people. I mean, I'm imagining they were social workers, but I don't know. I don't know if that's what they were, but sometimes I remember my mum would take us to different places around London. And sometimes she would sit with us in the room or sometimes she would just leave us there and disappear for an hour and come back and collect us. And we would just be with these different people that would read the stories or play games with us, or just have a conversation with us. How will you have school? Um, and again, I'm imagining now this must have been to do with some kind of boosting of self-esteem or just getting us to be more confident or come out of our shell, et cetera. Speaker 2 00:25:26 Um, but then by the time 13, 14 arrives, there was a knock at the door. Um, some whispered conversation at the bottom of the stairs. My mum calls me out of my bedroom. And within minutes, I'm in a mini bus with some other young boys and a couple of young girls as well. And we're driven to the cockpit theater in Cape fourth street, um, which is near church street market and just off the Howard road. And that was my first ever experience of doing a drama workshop drama session. And the boy that arrived home, I think it was about five 30 in the evening that I got picked up, got dropped off at home at nine 30. And, um, wow, your emotion is just really hit me. I gave my mom a hug and, um, we don't hug. We don't hug in the London family. I have no memories of hugging my mum before that moment. I've no memories of her hugging me. Um, but I got home from that workshop and I gave her a hug and I kissed her on the cheek on kind of keep going back. Speaker 1 00:26:54 We'll be back with Anthony Ekin DIU Lennon shortly, but first it's time for the plastic pedestal. That section where I ask one of my interviewees to raise up a member of the diaspora for us all to admire this week, actor writer and comedian Joanna Neary raises up Luchea joy. Speaker 4 00:27:12 I read Alan Moore's book Jerusalem last year in lockdown. And he had, he has, uh, a lot of information in there about Luchea Joyce, because she ended up in a St Andrew's hospital, which was an asylum in north Hampton. And, uh, I think she was put there by a family. So literally a Joyce has James Joyce's daughter and that, and everything about her, all of the evidence of her life has been destroyed. The, when she was a young girl, she was a dancer in Paris and she was in a troop and she used to dress up as half mermaid with half a mermaid costume and half a human costume. And she was in an avant-garde dance troupe. And there's, there's just a lot of, um, mystery around her, but she had a very, very close relationship with her father and he wrote a beautiful poem for her. Speaker 4 00:28:01 It's got flower in the title and I'm afraid. I can't tell you more than that, that you might be able to look it up and put it in your show notes if you have that. But my dad's a huge fan of James Joyce. And when I was 16, he said to me, no daughter of mine doesn't have a copy of Ulysses. He said, reach page once 35, skip that bit cut to page 49. Then you want to miss that bit. I read this bit and he just told me, I mean, I can't remember what it was, so I'd have to ask him again, but I can't claim that James Joyce is my number one hero. Cause I never got through Judy. I still haven't finished Ulysses. So I'd say, I'd say Luchea Joyce for being a, uh, interesting avant-garde woman at the height, the Bella pock in Paris and, uh, an incredible relationship with our father. Like I have with mine, Speaker 1 00:28:46 Joe Neary there. And if you want to hear more of what Joe or any of our other interviewees have to say, then go to our episodes page at the website, www.plasticpodcasts.com. And if you want to keep up with the latest developments with TPP, as we like to call ourselves at least this week, then why not subscribe simply pop your email address into the space at the foot of the homepage. Again, www.plasticpodcasts.com. And with one complimentary click, you'll be part of the clan and more than welcome. Now, back to Anthony Ekin DIU Lennon, having branched out from acting, Anthony gained a place on a funded directorship program working for 18 months with leading black company, tallow theater. This set in motion, what Anthony describes as a media storm, which all began with that phone call on 2nd of November, 2018, while he was leading a performance workshop with a group of students. But we'll let him tell you about that Speaker 2 00:29:45 All the way through the workshop. A multitude of students just kept coming up to me and saying, Anthony, go to your phone, go to the front. You need to go to your phone. Have you seen your phone? And I'd be like, whoa. And they'd be like, your phone is constantly lighting up. Um, is everything okay? Is it, do you think it might be something urgent? And I was like, well, if it's urgent, they can leave a message or they can send the text. I'm here working with you or let's stay focused. It was only at lunchtime that I looked at my phone and then noticed that there were loads of missed calls from numbers. I didn't recognize how these people get your number. I don't know lots of text messages from people that I didn't know. And the majority of them were where I've found to realize were from press were from newspapers, were from journalists, we're from TV, presenters or editors. Speaker 2 00:30:29 Um, a few of them were from tele-work data, a company, and a few of them by now, also from a few friends who were hearing on the great line, a very internal grapevine at that moment that something was afoot as regards a newspaper article being written, possibly due for publishing. That was going to accuse me of being a white man effectively stealing funds that should more be deserving of black or mixed heritage or the phrase used, which I don't really like to use. But the context that was used then was bam. I was accused of being a beneficiary of those funds when really, of course he shouldn't because he's a white tire Sherman that turned up in the Sunday times at first. Yes. Yeah. Courtesy of grant Tucker. I'm having an out of body experience seeing the stupidity of the whole context. I'm sure. Grant wasn't walking down the street and a pristine piece of paper just landed in his hands from a skyscraper already neatly typed up with the story he had to write it or dare I say, cut and paste it, um, from another source or other sources. Speaker 2 00:31:42 Um, I've reason to believe that those other sources had previously already made their, um, thoughts, um, and, and upset known to Tyler. Um, some of them may be, had already done it on Twitter, but it had come to no avail because anyone that had been told about me, anyone out there that had been starting to accuse me of being somebody or something, but I'm not, were quite promptly corrected and given the true narrative, which is yes, although his immediate parents, teachers, white, Irish, which he has never hidden, which he has never lied about, which he has never tried to keep from anybody. Um, his reality is that somebody who obviously has some kind of black or African heritage in his bloodline, that obstacle came out. But then of course, all the rest of the UK media needs to jump on the bandwagon. So it depends on their agenda or their narrative or their politics. Speaker 2 00:32:41 They do their own new version of the supposedly exposé about, um, well, they were accusing me of being the UK version of Rachel Dolezal, who some of you may or may not know about. But again, you know, Google is a beautiful asset at times like this Rachel dollars on, um, I was accused of being the UK version of her and that's when it really became what I called the media storm. All of the newspapers set the guardian to be honest, um, piers Morgan, um, uh, but thank goodness for example, one of the things that helped get me through it, uh, aside from people, you know, like, like really, really good friends like Paula Benner or, uh, friends like Martina led or Lucy and <inaudible>, um, who's an actor director that there was a letter that was sent a group letter that was composed and signed by many friends in the industry and sent. Speaker 2 00:33:36 So again, the guardian, um, printed and friends of mine that were really keeping tabs and really keeping an eye on, for instance, things like Instagram or Twitter, they specifically remember that even the same day that that article was printed or that letter was printed. I'm quoting people like Mikayla Cole. I'm quoting people like Roy Williams, the writer I'm seeing Lenny James, his name in there. Um, Twitter almost disappeared as regards to the toxic attack on me and the pylon that was taking place. And sadly, and I'm saying sadly, deliberately, I would have thought the initial attack would have been a really highly principled, deeply political statement that was being made and point being made about this, you know, this, um, this fraud, this, this man who is in no way authentic and is a liar and this to be literally arrested by the police. Some people were calling for me to be arrested so that I could be interviewed about this possible crime. Speaker 2 00:34:45 Yeah. For everything to subside within minutes because people like Lenny James and Mikayla Cole and Martina led and Lucy and them Sumati and Clark Peters from the USA, add their name to this letter. All I can think is I just say shame on you. Those who were behind the attack, why did you disappear? Where did you run away to show to you? You should have had the backbone to stand by your principles. But sadly why here in the grapevine is a lot of people disappeared because they suddenly realized, oh my God, look at these names. Look at these big names in the industry, friends of Anthony, who one day, I'm hoping to be in a play written by him, or be on screen with that actor or be directed by that director. It's quite ludicrous, quite pathetic. And again, coming into that vibe of having an out of body experience, it's bullshit. Speaker 2 00:35:37 I would, I would, I would love to see the newspaper interview by any of the newspapers, with those who went to grant Tucker, because grant Tucker didn't dream this and write it and submit it to his publisher. And then I don't know who described it. I don't know who deliberately decided to put an image of Rachel dollars out, not too far from my picture, but, um, he didn't dream it. He didn't manifest out nothing. There was a, there was a group decision to go to grant and say, we think we've got quite an interesting story for you. And I can only imagine that the aim was to have me either sat or to expect me to fall on my sword and stepped down from my position at Tallowood. But this is the thing there's no sword to fall on to at the end of the day, this comes down to simple mathematical equations to do with genetics. Speaker 2 00:36:34 Once upon a time in my family tree, there were some African people, and there were also some ancient Celts people or Irish people. And what happened over a period of years and years, and years and years, eventually two people from that lineage known as rose and Patrick left Ireland arrived in Pattinson London. And after a period of courting got married, made love. And a few months later, Anthony David Lennon was born. It shouldn't be a shock to anyone. If you're told that in this man's lineage, there's west African and Irish heritage, it shouldn't be too shocking to see that displayed in the child's face in the mirror Speaker 3 00:37:18 At a M a N a nicest Euro DNA Speaker 2 00:37:23 Test. After many years of being asked, why are you not doing a DNA test by my friend? Um, Paula dinner, some people name is Paul Wilson, man, and may subconsciously, and then blatantly, definitely categorically consciously avoiding it and not wanting to do it. It came to that moment where after the media storm, he offered me another opportunity to do it. And so he bought the test kits for me and he said, right, come on, we're going to do the test. You don't have to share them, or they want with anyone. You don't even need to share them with me mate, but you need to do this just for you. Um, open the open the box with this specific test. Um, you spit into a small kind of test to be kind of thing. And then you seal it, you pop it in a envelope and you send it off to the lab. Speaker 2 00:38:18 With my hand on my heart, I tell no lie. The lab was in Dublin and I left. So if this was a film, the producer was all the producers would already be saying, Anthony, this is so overwritten. We need to cut that moment where the lab is in Dublin, just absurd. That would never happen in real life. It they'd happen in real life, waited a few weeks for the results to come back. And it showed initially what I've, of course, anyone would expect a large percentage of, um, of ancestry from, uh, from Carey, um, you know, places like for more, uh, maybe it's Wexford mentioned. I haven't got it in front of me, forgive me. Um, but basically a substantial amount of, you know, what people might want to describe as Irish DNA. Um, but then as regards percentages, if that's what people are really, really interested in, and people definitely were interested when I shared them public domain, um, there's 32% altogether, west African heritage. Speaker 2 00:39:27 So places like Ben in Togo, Ghana. Um, and yeah, that was an interesting day when I saw those, when I saw those results, you've used the term in interview throwback, is that right? Yeah. During my childhood, I would sometimes hear that phrase being used to describe both me and Benson from my, from my experience, I've realized one thing about that phrase. Some people use it in a derogatory way, or they think they're being cheeky, or they think they're being funny, which is cool. People live in their reality online. But also I realized there's some people who in no way mean it in a disingenuous or toxic or disrespectful way. It's just their way of trying to grapple with and have an understanding of, oh, hold on a minute. You mean, so your parents are white, but in the family tree, somewhere back there, there's some heritage that has come forward and through to us in the here and now. Speaker 2 00:40:32 And the phrase we use is throwback. Is that what you mean? Is that what you are enjoying my life up until a certain point? I would, again, depending on the context of the conversation, I would accept that as a phrase, what I've done now though, is just for my own peace of mind and to kind of have a deeper psychological look at that phenomenon, if that's the phrase that people want to use about it or that reality. Um, and that's a way of honoring, I think the circumstances of what we're talking about, I've chosen just for myself to replace it with a new phrase. So rather than use the phrase throwback, um, when talking about myself or many other people on the planet that share a similar experience to me, um, I choose a new phrase, which is genetic echo, right? You are, I mean, literally it says what it is on the 10th. Speaker 2 00:41:23 It's also me honoring and paying respect to and celebrating my ancestry. Um, I might never know the names of west African people in my heritage, but I tell you one thing, I love them and I celebrate them and I honor them and I will never forget them. And I will never walk around with a shame of having them in my bloodline, because if it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be here. And if it wasn't for them, they'd be quite of other people that wouldn't be on the planet. And also there could be quite a lot of other philosophies or notions of God or connections with science or knowledge of space that wouldn't be known without these people. It gets deep. Speaker 1 00:42:18 You're listening to the plastic podcasts, follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, as mentioned in the introduction. This has probably been the most intense of our 24 interviews so far, not just because of the media storm itself, but because of its implications, it wasn't simply the false accusations, but also in Anthony's words, the toxically triggering effect on me due to layers and layers of childhood trauma that I'd not reviewed for many, many years in this last section, we talk about some of those repercussions where he is now at his relationship with both diaspora organizations and his own Irishness, but we start with how others have reached out to him with their own similar stories. Speaker 2 00:43:01 I have got many, many emails, many, many Facebook messages, many private Twitter messages, and many Instagram messages from a myriad of people globally, who have said to me, Anthony, I'm here listening to you. Talk is it is a affinity with my life experience. Would you like to talk more? Would you like to meet, are you ever going to do a documentary about quote unquote us when, when they signed us it's as if they're speaking with a notion or a philosophy of, um, connectivity and collectivity it's like collect us together and interview us. Um, I keep being asked when it, when it's the right time, when it's the right time for you, please come and talk to us. Um, yeah, that that's been one of the good things that came off the back of, um, me choosing to, for example, be interviewed properly by people like, um, Simon Hatten stone at the guardian who allowed me to tell my story, my truth, my point of view, as opposed to people, you know, reading crap on Twitter while people are in an echo chamber pylon, um, to do with and getting their profile bigger. Speaker 2 00:44:34 Um, don't get me wrong. When I talk about, um, things like Instagram, Facebook, I love Facebook and love Twitter. I love the internet. It's one of the most powerful, beautiful far-reaching tools that we as human beings have got on the planet. Um, but obviously as most of us know, you have to be really careful with it because depending on your mindset, depending on the vibration of your heart, depending on your agenda, it could be most, it can be a most toxic narcissistic psychology destroying implement that's ever become known to human beings. People need to be really, really careful with it. Um, but it has positive and, and beautiful and lovely uses I'm yet to have a conversation, you know, with anybody that attacked me, I've had, I've had one apology from a journalist, but all the people that did the pylon or anyone that wrote a toxic article, trying to trash me or pull my identity to pieces or question my authenticity or my agenda, all of them that wrote an article or did a podcast or announced something on a website about me, only one person has since sent me a private Twitter message and say to me, Anthony, if there was any part that I played and what you must have gone through during what you call the media storm, I would like to say, I apologize. Speaker 2 00:46:00 And I'm sorry for any part that I might have played in that. And I hope that your DNA results have also added any sense of comfort to you. Um, and, and to respond to you properly as regards to what you asked me to before. Yeah. At that time, when the media storm hit, I wasn't sleeping, I wasn't eating good. I was getting phone calls or messages from family because of the trauma. It was causing them. At one moment, I got a message from my mum and had to go and visit my mom on a couple of occasions. Grant Tucker went to my mom's house. You understand me? And it's like, there's certain times when, when I talk about this, it's like, yeah, I can laugh. And I can joke kind of confined my way through it. But you see these people that call themselves so-called journalists rushing to get a supposedly exposed. Speaker 2 00:46:49 They exclusive story out there for clicks or for sellings at newspaper stands. Somebody people need to be ashamed of themselves. How dare you go to this woman's house, trying to get an interview, accusing her son or being a white man, accusing her son of effectively being a thief, equating him with being akin, to being another version of Rachel dollars after everything she's been through this man, obviously didn't do his homework. And he was a fool to accept the supposedly evidence that he was obviously presented with. That felt for him that this, this is enough of a story to run with, to go with shame on him, shame on him, on his editor, shame on the person who decided to put the picture of Rachel dollars out. You're playing with people's psychology at your peak you're you're, you're doing character assassination and you're doing it within a context that you know nothing about. Speaker 2 00:47:43 You don't know. I think about genes, genealogy, ancestry, African culture, identity, the black experience and knowledge of the fact that during certain eras people would describe a light-skinned man or woman or dark-skinned man or woman as black. Is that no, let's do a pylon. Let's do a trash talk. Let's do a, let's do a gaslighting. Let's do a false accusation because he can't come back to us, take us to court. He ain't got the money to take us to court. Could you imagine me trying to take piers Morgan to court if accusing me of cultural theft, but also on another level there's things that's more important to me. What's more important to me is my mom's peace of mind is my children's peace of mind is my colleagues in the is peace of mind. If anybody wants to debate me or have a meeting with me or call me out again in person name the day I'll be there, there'll be nobody there by the way, except me, myself and I, you can bring through everybody else that you want to bring through your suppose. It's scholars, your book writers, your article writers, people that wrote the trash about me before. I'm willing to meet all of them in a room on my own, and we'll have a conversation Speaker 1 00:48:55 Moving on from that onto my last few questions. Uh, you've been to various events run by, I am Irish. Speaker 2 00:49:02 Yes, beautiful organization. I was at an event, not too many moons ago. That was very historic because it was the first ever black history month event at the Irish embassy in London. And I will never forget that evening. It was, oh, wow. It was an evening of celebration, acknowledging elders, some still with us, some passed on acknowledging the power and the beauty and the grace and the strength and the wisdom within the many aspects and facets and layers of what people describe as being Irish culture, ancient Celtic culture, um, as mixed an audience, as you could imagine. Um, couple of people I recognize, but most people, I didn't know. Um, I was given a small pocket of time to speak about my mum for a few minutes, which I really, really, really, really appreciate having the opportunity to do. Um, and the conversations that continued after that when it was less of a presentational vibe, um, because there was a panel of speakers, the conversations that took place afterwards, um, the music in the background, the food eaten, the new relationships forge, the connections made that organization is heavyweight and, um, yeah. Loved them or not loved them or not. Did you feel Speaker 3 00:50:32 Separate it from your own Irish heritage as much as anything else? And you'll use, Speaker 2 00:50:37 I got taken back to Waterford once with my dad, by my dad. Um, I really loved the visit. I love travel. I love Waterford and I, I really want to go back again as soon as I can. Um, but I felt either I felt distant or distance. I felt, I just felt like not 100% welcome, except for, and I'm really, really, really, really I've been trying to do this for so many years. I've been trying to remember her name and I can't remember her name. I think I was, I was a teenager. So I'm there not far from the, from the race course, the old race course, walking along with my dad. And we met another family who you obviously knew. And there was a girl there who looked to be of similar age to me and I'm not going to lie. I'm smiling because I'm, it could easily have turned into a moment where I could have, if I'd been with a friend or a mate, I could easily have said mayor, if I'm not married to that girl in the next few years, it's beautiful. Speaker 2 00:51:55 Why Irish girl? And we, I think I was in water for about 10 days. Somehow the opportunity was created by my family and whoever this other family were for me and this girl to meet up a couple more times and we'd go walk in and we'd sit on walls and go and buy ice cream together. And there was one particular day where it was coming close to us leaving. And I remember saying to her, I'd really like to keep in touch with you and could we maybe write letters? And you know, I'd love to be able to come back and, you know, see you again. And she does. She just looked really upset. And I just felt this, this energy from her, which I'd already been feeling from other people already, but didn't expect to feel it from her. And literally there were tears welling up in her eyes. They didn't fall. But you know, when you see those tears just on the cusp of the eyelids as if they're about to, but they don't, she just looked really, really upset. And I said, oh, what is it? What, what if I said, are you okay? And she's like, I can't, I can't see you. And I'd never be able to bring you home. I said, I don't understand why not? What is it to do with our families or my dad or what? And she's like, no, because, well look how you look. Speaker 2 00:53:10 I remember it. I'll never forget it to this day, this thick, beautiful Irish accent, but the words, but look at how you look. And then it was like my heart sang and I, it, and it clicked and it made sense. I didn't like it, but you know, that's the reality. And, um, yeah, never saw her again. But, um, but when I went to the embassy, all those means later, I didn't feel distant from my Irish brothers and sisters. There wasn't a distancing going on there, there was an embrace. There was an acceptance. There was an understanding. There were a few people don't get me wrong, scratching their heads about, hold on a minute, hold on, mom. Truly. That's two more. And you look like this, but then maybe I'd say to them, oh, have you heard about the book that's called the blackouts? And most of them would say no. And I'd say I seek it out is by two writers, Abraham Ali and Ahmed dally. I assume they're brothers, but they might not be. It's called the blackouts and ancient African civilization in Ireland and Britain. There's a lot known about Ireland, but there's still a lot more to be found out. Speaker 1 00:54:30 You been listening to the past, take podcasts with me, Doug Devani and my guest, Anthony. <inaudible> the plastic pedestal with provided by Joanna Neary and music by Jack design-y find us at www dot passion, podcasts.com. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram or [email protected] Podcasts are a production of the plastic project.

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