What is black?
Anything that isn’t white.
What is white?
Anything. Unless it’s black.
It’s amazing that science tell us that we all evolved in Africa 200, 000 years ago, but still the color black (or any dark color) personifies only bad qualities.
White instead is the goodness. The goodness that created apartheid – the era of poverty, violence, abuse, hate and crime.
You and I,
in fact everyone all over the world,
we’re literally African under the skin;
brothers and sisters
separated by a mere 2 thousand generations.
Old-fashioned concepts of race are not only socially divisive,
but scientifically wrong.
Dr. Spencer Wells
The book of Trevor Noah ‘BORN A CRIME’ is a collection of memories about the end of apartheid and a collection of stories from his South African childhood. The book is also The Ode to Trevor’s mother, who made him who he is.
Note: I didn’t know who is the author, because I never heard Trevor Noah’s name. Like ever lol You know Ray, haha. Ray is out-of-this-world. So I’ve googled it, but only when I was in the middle of the book.
Structure and style:
The book consists of 3 big parts – early childhood, middle school and almost adult.
The opening of the book – ‘Immorality Act from 1927’. Shortly: if you are a white person and having sex with a black person – you’ll be punished by 5 years in prison.
The book is hilarious, easy to read. I wouldn’t say written in ‘extraordinary style’, but definitely with a lot of wit = will make you smile (and think) while you are scrolling through the pages.
The genre: Memoir, non-fiction
My rate on Goodreads: 5
x x x
I am a white person, but still I could ‘relate’ to some stories in this book, because I’ve been in situations, when I felt I have to figure out where in this world I belong.
But the life of the black person is harder. Much harder. Everywhere. And if you are the mixed (colored) child, it is some kind of a rollercoaster-everyday-die-hard-life and you have to choose ‘the right group’ to belong. Especially in the time of Apartheid.
The mentality of Apartheid – ‘separate but equal’.
And we all know now: HOW separate and HOW equal that was.
Excursus: In the tv show ‘The Fosters’, season 1 episode 4 a black mother is visiting her child (grown up daughter) and they are discussing this problem: the problem of ‘not belonging’. Each of them feel/see it differently. The mother is black. The daughter is mixed (born from the white father).
Interesting details from Trevor’s childhood:
- friends who?
The wrong color kid in the wrong color area is a huge danger. The wrong color kid should be kept inside.
- life is centred on faith (faith/religion that has been brought to Africa by ‘white’ man)
- toilets in Soweto and how to deal with the blind person while you are ‘pooping’
Trevor said that ‘shitting unites us all’, it is a moment of self-awareness. And I have to agree, because I do care a lot about my shit. Don’t you?
‘When we shit we forget our airs and graces, we forget how famous or how rich we are. All of that goes away. You are never more yourself than when you are taking a shit.’ Trevor Noah
- the problem of language
Language is more than the colour. It defines who you are. If you meet a Spanish person and talk Spanish – you belong (automatically) to the group of Spanish people. If you can’t Spanish – you are the outsider, even if a cute/or smart one.
‘I am YOU’ if I can talk your language.
‘I became a chameleon. My colour didn’t change, but I could change your perception of colour. If you spoke to me in Zulu – I replied to you in Zulu. If you spoke to me in Tswana – I replied to you in Tswana. Maybe I didn’t look like you, but I spoke like you = I was you.’ Trevor Noah
- moms are tough!
‘When my mother was 9 yo, she told my Gran that she didn’t want to live with her anymore. She wanted to live with her father. ‘If thats what you want, then go.’ – Gran said.’ Trevor Noah
This is one tough girl I have to say…
The Gran is absolutely fantastic. Don’t you think? 😉
- every day is a ‘run for life’!
You learn to run fast because Death is running beside you.
“If you ever visit South Africa
Leave the brilliant beaches of Cape Town for a moment
Climb Mount Plaasmoorde Witkruis monument
And you’ll see the victims of apartheid
White crosses marking a thousand White Victims
Planted in the earth of a million Black Victims.
They lie dissolved in the humus of the soils.
They were too many to have their own marked graves,
Too many to build black crosses for
And just too hard to forget about
Because they make the soil under your feet black.” #quote
- the meaning of the name in SA
Every South African name means something. For example:
Mlungisi – The Fixer
Velile – He Who Popped Out Of Nowhere
Nombuyiselo (Noah’s mother) – She Who Gives Back
But Trevor is a name with no meaning whatsoever in SA. It’s not even a Biblical name. Why? Because Trevors mother wanted her child beholden to no fate. She wanted him to be free to go anywhere, do anything and be anyone.
- how to burn the house of the white person and escape jail
I’m going to say it is POSSIBLE and only Trevor Noah knows HOW to get away with such crazy crime. Grab the book – find out for yourself! 😂☕️
As you see this memoir is full of ‘practical wonders’. In case if you are still in doubt…let me mention the most hilarious moments:
- what NOT to do on Valentine’s day
- the most embracing moments inside/and outside of the car
- being the outsider
- porn now & then
- cats and black people
- living in the hood and the transparency of freedom
The important take-aways:
- Talent alone doesn’t take you anywhere!
- Don’t fight the system. Mock the system.
- Racism exists. People are getting hurt, and just because it’s not happening to you doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
To be an African in South Africa means that one is politicized from the moment of one’s birth, whether one acknowledges it or not…His life is circumscribed by racist laws and regulations that cripple his growth, dim his potential, and stunt his life…Nelson Mandela
P.S. I’ve heard the audiobook is even more fun 😉✌️
Next post – ‘Chocolate shrimp’ short story (finally 😂😂)
Living in Sweden. Awesome. Happy. Writing. Ayurvedic food. Healthy lifestyle. Dogs. Literature. Drawing. Meditation/Yoga.