First of all, ever since November, I’ve been trying to bone up on stories, narratives, and the like of people who look different than I do, who have experienced differently, and who have life events that I will never be able to relate to, no matter how hard I try. This is for the simple reason that we look different and we grew up differently. So, me being the inquisitive person that I am, I started reading and I started asking questions.
And I love books that make me think as well as make me laugh. Which is how i stumbled onto the memoir by Trevor Noah that’s entitled Born a Crime. It follows Trevor’s life while growing up in South Africa’s apartheid. For those who aren’t familiar with this judicial law, apartheid is vile. It quite literally and figuratively makes being African American a crime. The definition is “a policy or system of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race” (thanks google). YOu would think that to be strange, given where South Africa is located, but that being said, South Africa was colonized in the early 1900’s by Great Britain (i believe), and once they became independent, the minority who wasn’t from there and didn’t look like the average countryman were appointed to lead. And apartheid was finally repealed in the late 1980s/early 1990s.
Anyway, Born a Crime dives into several different stories and provides several examples of what the laws specifically stated, what it was really like being born to a Swiss father and to a Black mother, and what being mixed in a country rooted in segregation was really like. It’s a great insight into something that was very real and didn’t end all that long ago. The book and its stories are all told in classic Trevor Noah fashion. You can really hear his humour come through and he’s an incredibly gifted storyteller. It’s no reason why he’s so popular on The Daily Show.
Pick up this book. It’s informative, a serious heart string puller, and hard to put down at times. Noah intertwines stories with facts and legal documents in a way not found in many other books. At least from what I’ve found. Reading this book put some things in perspective and made me understand at least on a basic level.
Read this book. You’ll learn a lot. You’ll laugh a lot. And you won’t see the end coming in the slightest.
Favoruite quote: you don’t own the thing that you love.