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“That’s what apartheid did: It convinced every group that it was because of the other race that they didn’t get into the club. It’s basically the bouncer at the door telling you, “We can’t let you in because of your friend Darren and his ugly shoes.” So you look at Darren and say, “Screw you, Black Darren. You’re holding me back.” Then when Darren goes up, the bouncer says, “No, it’s actually your”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime
“He told me his story, a South African story that was all too familiar to me: The man grows up under apartheid, working on a farm, part of what’s essentially a slave labor force. It’s a living hell but it’s at least something. He’s paid a pittance but at least he’s paid. He’s told where to be and what to do every waking minute of his day. Then apartheid ends and he doesn’t even have that anymore. He finds his way to Johannesburg, looking for work, trying to feed his children back home. But he’s lost. He has no education. He has no skills. He doesn’t know what to do, doesn’t know where to be. The world has been taught to be scared of him, but the reality is that he is scared of the world because he has none of the tools necessary to cope with it. So what does he do? He takes shit. He becomes a petty thief. He’s in and out of jail. He gets lucky and finds some construction work, but then he gets laid off from that, and a few days later he’s in a shop and he sees some PlayStation games and he grabs them, but he doesn’t even know enough to know that he’s stolen something of no value.”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime
“As a kid I understood that people were different colors, but in my head white and black and brown were like types of chocolate. Dad was the white chocolate, mom was the dark chocolate, and I was the milk chocolate. But we were all just chocolate. I didn’t know any of it had anything to do with “race.” I didn't know what race was. My mother never referred to my dad as white or to me as mixed. So when the other kids in Soweto called me "white", even though I was light brown, I just thought that they had their colors mixed up, like they hadn't learned them properly. "Ah, yes, my friend. You've confused aqua with turquoise. I can see how you made that mistake. You're not the first.”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood
tags: color, race
“My mother used to tell me, “I chose to have you because I wanted something to love and something that would love me unconditionally in return.” I was a product of her search for belonging.”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
“Learn from your past and be better because of your past,” she would say, “but don’t cry about your past. Life is full of pain. Let the pain sharpen you, but don’t hold on to it. Don’t be bitter.” And she never was.”
Trevor Noah, Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
“And you must remember that black people worked for the government as well. As far as her white neighbors knew, my mom could have been a spy posing as a prostitute posing as a maid, sent into Hillbrow to inform on whites who were breaking the law. That’s how a police state works—everyone thinks everyone else is the police.”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood
“Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo!” was the chant they would rally to during the freedom struggle. “When you strike a woman, you strike a rock.” As a nation, we recognized the power of women, but in the home they were expected to submit and obey. In”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
“In the Bantu schools, children were only taught in their home language. Zulu kids learned in Zulu. Tswana kids learned in Tswana. Because of this, we’d fall into the trap the government had set for us and fight among ourselves, believing that we were different.”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
“The reason for this was that the South African government wanted to establish good relations with the Japanese in order to import their fancy cars and electronics. So Japanese people were given honorary white status while Chinese people stayed black.”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
“My mom, who was only six or seven herself, used to round up the abandoned kids and form a troop and take them around to the shebeens. They’d collect empties from the men who were passed out and take the bottles to where you could turn them in for a deposit. Then my mom would take that money, buy food in the spaza shops, and feed the kids. She was a child taking care of children. When”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
“In society, we do horrible things to one another because we don’t see the person it affects. We don’t see their face. We don’t see them as people. Which was the whole reason the hood was built in the first place, to keep the victims of apartheid out of sight and out of mind. Because if white people ever saw black people as human, they would see that slavery is unconscionable.”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
“People love to say, “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” What they don’t say is, “And it would be nice if you gave him a fishing rod.” That’s the part of the analogy that’s missing. Working with Andrew was the first time in my life I realized you need someone from the privileged world to come to you and say, “Okay, here’s what you need, and here’s how it works.” Talent alone would have gotten me nowhere without Andrew giving me the CD writer. People say, “Oh, that’s a handout.” No. I still have to work to profit by it. But I don’t stand a chance without”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
“Relationships are built in the silences.”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood
“I went home, and my mom squealed when I walked in the door. “Ooooooh! They turned my baby boy into a pretty little girl! I’ve got a little girl! You’re so pretty!”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
“I pointed at my mother. “She’s my mother.” “What? She can’t be your mother, boy. She’s black. Can’t you see?” My mom shook her head. “Poor little colored boy lost his mother. What a shame.” I panicked. Was I crazy? Is she not my mother? I started bawling. “You’re my mother. You’re my mother. She’s my mother. She’s my mother.” She shrugged again. “So sad. I hope he finds his mother.”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
“In American, the history of racism is taught like this: 'There was slavery and then there was Jim Crow and then there was Martin Luther King Jr. and now it's done.”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood
“I know you see me as some crazy old bitch nagging at you,” she said, “but you forget the reason I ride you so hard and give you so much shit is because I love you. Everything I have ever done I’ve done from a place of love. If I don’t punish you, the world will punish you even worse. The world doesn’t love you. If the police get you, the police don’t love you. When I beat you, I’m trying to save you. When they beat you, they’re trying to kill you.” My favorite thing to eat as a kid, and still my favorite dessert of all time, was custard and jelly, what Americans would call Jell-O.”
Trevor Noah, Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
“Nelson Mandela once said, "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart." He was so right. When you make the effort to speak someone else's language, even if it's just basic phrases here and there, you are saying to them, "I understand that you have a culture and identity that exists beyond me. I see you as a human being.”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood
“Language brings with it an identity and a culture, or at least the perception of it. A shared language says “We’re the same.” A language barrier says “We’re different.”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
“The fact that I grew up in a world run by women was no accident. Apartheid kept me away from my father because he was white, but for almost all the kids I knew on my grandmother’s block in Soweto, apartheid had taken away their fathers as well, just for different reasons.”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
“There was a famous incident during an Orlando Pirates soccer match a few years ago. A cat got into the stadium and ran through the crowd and out onto the pitch in the middle of the game. A security guard, seeing the cat, did what any sensible black person would do. He said to himself, “That cat is a witch.” He caught the cat and—live on TV—he kicked it and stomped it and beat it to death with a sjambok, a hard leather whip. It was front-page news all over the country. White people lost their shit. Oh my word, it was insane. The security guard was arrested and put on trial and found guilty of animal abuse. He had to pay some enormous fine to avoid spending several months in jail. What was ironic to me was that white people had spent years seeing video of black people being beaten to death by other white people, but this one video of a black man kicking a cat, that’s what sent them over the edge. Black people were just confused. They didn’t see any problem with what the man did. They were like, “Obviously that cat was a witch. How else would a cat know how to get out onto a soccer pitch? Somebody sent it to jinx one of the teams. That man had to kill the cat. He was protecting the players.”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime
“We live in a world where we don’t see the ramifications of what we do to others, because we don’t live with them. It would be a whole lot harder for an investment banker to rip off people with subprime mortgages if he actually had to live with the people he was ripping off. If we could see one another’s pain and empathize with one another, it would never be worth it to us to commit the crimes in the first place.”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
“. I was wanted. Being chosen is the greatest gift you can give to another human being.”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
“It’s no coincidence that nearly every major black leader of the anti-apartheid movement, from Nelson Mandela to Steve Biko, was educated by the missionaries—a knowledgeable man is a free man, or at least a man who longs for freedom. The”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
“Language brings with it an identity and a culture, or at least the perception of it. A shared language says, 'We're the same.' A language barrier says, 'We're different.' .... The great thing about language is that you can just as easily use it to do the opposite, convince people that they are the same. Racism teaches us that we are different because of the color of our skin, but because racism is stupid, it's easily tricked. If you're a racist and you meet someone who doesn't look like you, the fact that he can't speak like you reinforces your racist preconceptions. He's different, less intelligent. A brilliant scientist can come over the border from Mexico to live in America, but if he speaks in broken English, people say, 'Hey, I don't trust this guy.' 'But he's a scientist.' 'Yeah, in Mexican science maybe. I don't trust him.' However, if the person who doesn't look like you speaks like you, your brain short-circuits because your racism program has none of those instructions in the code. 'Wait, wait,' your mind says, 'The racism code says if he doesn't look like me, he isn't like me, but the language code says if he speaks like me, he is like me. Something is off here. I can't figure this out.”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood
“I would beat you, but Jesus has already exposed your lies.”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood
“I always like to imagine being a South African policeman who likely couldn’t tell the difference between Chinese and Japanese but whose job was to make sure that people of the wrong color weren’t doing the wrong thing. If he saw an Asian person sitting on a whites-only bench, what would he say? “Hey, get off that bench, you Chinaman!” “Excuse me. I’m Japanese.” “Oh, I apologize, sir. I didn’t mean to be racist. Have a lovely afternoon.”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
“I wasn’t a lonely kid—I was good at being alone. I’d read books, play with the toy that I had, make up imaginary worlds. I lived inside my head. I still live inside my head. To this day you can leave me alone for hours and I’m perfectly happy entertaining myself. I have to remember to be with people. —”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
“I don’t like to use this word,” he said, “because I’m a man of science and I don’t believe in it. But what happened to your mother today was a miracle. I never say that, because I hate it when people say it, but I don’t have any other way to explain this.” The bullet that hit my mother in the butt, he said, was a through-and-through. It went in, came out, and didn’t do any real damage. The other bullet went through the back of her head, entering below the skull at the top of her neck. It missed the spinal cord by a hair, missed the medulla oblongata, and traveled through her head just underneath the brain, missing every major vein, artery, and nerve. With the trajectory the bullet was on, it was headed straight for her left eye socket and would have blown out her eye, but at the last second it slowed down, hit her cheekbone instead, shattered her cheekbone, ricocheted off, and came out through her left nostril. On the gurney in the emergency room, the blood had made the wound look much worse than it was. The bullet took off only a tiny flap of skin on the side of her nostril, and it came out clean, with no bullet fragments left inside. She didn’t even need surgery. They stopped the bleeding, stitched her up in back, stitched her up in front, and let her heal. “There was nothing we can do, because there’s nothing we need to do,” the doctor”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
“I grew up in a world of violence, but I myself was never violent at all. Yes, I played pranks and set fires and broke windows, but I never attacked people. I never hit anyone. I was never angry. I just didn’t see myself that way. My mother had exposed me to a different world than the one she grew up in. She bought me the books she never got to read. She took me to the schools that she never got to go to. I immersed myself in those worlds and I came back looking at the world a different way. I saw that not all families are violent. I saw the futility of violence, the cycle that just repeats itself, the damage that’s inflicted on people that they in turn inflict on others.
I saw, more than anything, that relationships are not sustained by violence but by love.”
Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood


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