Boy was it weird checking off that trio of categories: history, biography, and comedy for a book that opens with Trevor Noah being thrown out of a moving car by his mother to save his life, but they’re all accurate.
This is hilarious – Trevor Noah didn’t get the Daily Show for no reason, – and he pokes fun at the absurdities of racism while acknowledging their damage. Discussing a childhood in Apartheid South Africa, race is obviously going to factor in, but he draws laughs out of horrific situations. Beating a shoplifting charge because the camera desaturated his face enough that he could pass for white on screen despite it clearly depicting him? That’s awful and hysterical. Noah following his white father around thinking his ignoring him is a game, with his father having to run away lest he be identified as having violated the law by siring him? Again, the situation is monstrous, but the absurdity of it all undercuts the tension while not shoving it under the rug. And after all, the comedian laughing so he doesn’t cry is an old trope.
There’s so much about this that’s just disgusting – the aftermath once Apartheid has ended was COMPLETE news to me, and the idea that you can classify people into groups that you can then legislate would be ridiculous except for the part where it happened for generations. I’m so used to American racism that it’s truly shocking to learn about Apartheid from someone who not only lived through it, but someone who lived through at my same age, roughly. Obviously the last few years have been an ugly reminder that racism isn’t over in the US by a long shot, but the idea of open, state sanctioned segregation existing in my lifetime is baffling to me.
I highly recommend this book, but as with Imbeciles, I’m sorry it had to exist.