I bought Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime” to read during labour and while in the hospital to have my baby. Everyone said it was an easy and funny read, and I figured it’ll be a good one to delve into in the midst of contractions. I ended up reading it way too quickly. But then, I started typing up this post when the first set of contractions hit…
I haven’t read that many books in recent times, but this one is right up there for me. It’s funny, yet deep. I hardly underline or highlight books when reading; but if I did, I’ll have come close to underlining a whole lot of it.
I didn’t know that much of Trevor Noah (and still don’t!). So it’s not because I’m a personal fan that I found this book fascinating. Apparently he’s a comedian – so yes, it is funny. But it’s so much more – filled with quotable quotes and life gems. Pegged as a love letter to his mum, it addresses a whole bunch of matters: racism; equality; domestic violence; poverty & crime; marriage and relationships; friendships.
The writing brings each character to life and you can almost clearly visualise each one. I’m not about to review the book though because I’m not sure exactly how to. What I will do, is point out some lines that I couldn’t help nodding constantly to. And thinking “true words there Trevor; true words…“
~ When you shit, as you first sit down, you’re not fully in the experience yet. You are not yet a shitting person. You’re transitioning from a person about to shit to a person who is shitting. You don’t whip out your smartphone or a newspaper right away. It takes a minute to get the first shit out of the way and get in the zone and get comfortable. Once you reach that moment, that’s when it gets really nice. It’s a powerful experience, shitting. There’s something magical about it, profound even. I think God made humans shit in the way we do because it brings us back down to earth and gives us humility. I don’t care who you are, we all shit the same. Beyoncé shits. The pope shits. The Queen of England shits. When we shit we forget our airs and our graces, we forget how famous or how rich we are. All of that goes away.
~ 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.
~ 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”
~ 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.”
~ Maybe I didn’t look like you, but if I spoke like you, I was you.
~ We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited.
~ 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.
~ I had a natural talent for selling to people, but without knowledge and resources, where was that going to get me? People always lecture the poor: “Take responsibility for yourself! Make something of yourself!” But with what raw materials are the poor to make something of themselves?
~ 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.
~I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done in life, any choice that I’ve made. But I’m consumed with regret for the things I didn’t do, the choices I didn’t make, the things I didn’t say. We spend so much time being afraid of failure, afraid of rejection. But regret is the thing we should fear most. Failure is an answer. Rejection is an answer. Regret is an eternal question you will never have the answer to.
~ I never let the memory of something painful prevent me from trying something new. If you think too much about the ass-kicking your mom gave you, or the ass-kicking that life gave you, you’ll stop pushing the boundaries and breaking the rules. It’s better to take it, spend some time crying, then wake up the next day and move on. You’ll have a few bruises and they’ll remind you of what happened and that’s okay. But after a while the bruises fade, and they fade for a reason—because now it’s time to get up to some shit again.
~ Learn from your past and be better because of your past… 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.
~ A man is not determined by how much he earns. You can still be the man of the house and earn less than your woman. Being a man is not what you have, it’s who you are. Being more of a man doesn’t mean your woman has to be less than you.
~ … make sure your woman is the woman in your life. Don’t be one of these men who makes his wife compete with his mother. A man with a wife cannot be beholden to his mother.
~ You’re having sex with a woman in her mind before you’re having sex with her in her vagina.
~ Foreplay begins during the day. It doesn’t begin in the bedroom.
~ The first thing I learned about having money was that it gives you choices. People don’t want to be rich. They want to be able to choose. The richer you are, the more choices you have. That is the freedom of money.
~ When you’re trying to stretch your money, food is where you have to be careful. You have to plan or you’ll eat your profits.
~ Hustling is to work what surfing the Internet is to reading. If you add up how much you read in a year on the Internet—tweets, Facebook posts, lists—you’ve read the equivalent of a shit ton of books, but in fact you’ve read no books in a year. When I look back on it, that’s what hustling was. It’s maximal effort put into minimal gain. It’s a hamster wheel.
~ Comfort can be dangerous. Comfort provides a floor but also a ceiling.
~ The biggest thing in the hood is that you have to share. You can’t get rich on your own. You have money? Why aren’t you helping people? The old lady on the block needs help, everyone pitches in. You’re buying beer, you buy beer for everyone. You spread it around. Everyone must know that your success benefits the community in one way or another…
~ My mom thought having a child was going to be like having a partner, but every child is born the center of its own universe, incapable of understanding the world beyond its own wants and needs, and I was no different.
~ When a parent is absent, you’re left in the lurch of not knowing, and it’s so easy to fill that space with negative thoughts. “They don’t care.” “They’re selfish.” My one saving grace was that my mom never spoke ill of him. She would always compliment him. “You’re good with your money. You get that from your dad.” “You have your dad’s smile.” “You’re clean and tidy like your father.” I never turned to bitterness, because she made sure I knew his absence was because of circumstance and not a lack of love.”
~ People say all the time that they’d do anything for the people they love. But would you really? Would you do anything? Would you give everything? I don’t know that a child knows that kind of selfless love. A mother, yes. A mother will clutch her children and jump from a moving car to keep them from harm. She will do it without thinking. But I don’t think the child knows how to do that, not instinctively. It’s something the child has to learn.
~ I fell in love with McDonald’s. McDonald’s, to me, tasted like America. McDonald’s is America. You see it advertised and it looks amazing. You crave it. You buy it. You take your first bite, and it blows your mind. It’s even better than you imagined. Then, halfway through, you realize it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. A few bites later, you’re like, Hmm, there’s a lot wrong with this. Then you’re done, you miss it like crazy, and you go back for more.”
I find that McDonalds one funny. but isn’t that just representative of how we know of different kinds of junk that’s not good for us, and yet we keep going back to it?
Have you read this book? What are you thoughts and which of the games above (if any) speaks to you?