Stephen Johnson, Columnist
Trevor Noah is well-known for being the Daily Show host on Comedy Central, taking over after the Jon Stewart era. Recently, however, his fame is coming from a different source—his memoir about life before the limelight called “Born A Crime.”
We can all learn from how he overcame obstacles similar to those many of us experience in our own lives, and choose to turn away from a life of crime we were born into.
His memoir is full of gritty stories of his upbringing in the political segregation of apartheid, the separation of African people and European people in South Africa. He uses the story of his upbringing to share important lessons he has learned with readers.
The title makes a statement about Noah’s existence. He is born to a Xhosa mother and a Swiss nationalist father. Noah’s birth is in and of itself a crime against his country. Trevor is born mixed, or “colored” in the South African terminology.
His skin tone causes harsher treatment for wrongdoings from local law enforcement. Throughout his life, he learns being an upstanding man means holding yourself accountable for your actions and intentionally choosing not to live a life of crime.
Noah experiences three life-changing events: stealing from a local mall, hustling in the ghetto and being incarcerated for driving an unlicensed vehicle. Throughout these events, he finds clarity knowing living a life of crime is not his God-given purpose.
He shows that one needs to learn from those transgressions to better oneself, a message that we should all apply to our own lives.
Additionally, Noah’s transformation came from a negative environment at home—the abusive treatment of his stepfather, Abel.
Abel was an alcoholic with aggressive and misogynist behavior originating from his African tribe. Abel regularly beat Noah’s mom and then attempted to kill her after she refused to respect him for his behavior.
Abel is a great representation of the abuse too many women face in relationships. Noah’s household life illustrates a great reminder to respect women, another lesson we should all heed.
Originally, Trevor comes from humble beginnings in a small, South African town. Despite his upbringing, he had to choose a life of good decisions to avoid a life of crime due to his circumstances. This book is a must-read, especially for individuals who feel as though they cannot overcome the situations they were born into.
Read this book. Learn from it. Live out its lessons.
Johnson is a senior journalism and mass communication major.