Read It: Born A Crime

April 10, 2018
I started reading Trevor Noah's Born A Crime around the time that I began to be more aware of the plight of Indigenous people in Canada, and started my path in Truth and Reconciliation -- including the KAIROS Blanket Exercise. As I read, there were so many parts of the book that connected with what I was learning at the time, including aspects of the apartheid reserve system that are common in both countires.

My path in Truth and Reconciliation has not been very long, but it has winded, and turned, and bumped, made me make choices in my heart that I would never had made previously. To be able to connect with a book like Born A Crime while on this journey is why I love books so much.

I learned a lot from Trevor Noah while reading his book: about apartheid, about growing up in a culture different from my own, about how wise someone can be at a young age, and the fact that, even though we grew up in different countries and cultures, there were many similarities in some of our experiences -- like high school. But the most important thing that stood out to me was when he talked about a boy named Andrew that gave him the CD writer -- which cost a lot of money at the time -- that would make it possible for Noah to be able to create a profitable (teenage) business selling music. 

Noah says, "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...[They] 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 really got me. It was one of those moments where I wanted to shout "Yaaassss!" because that's exactly how it should work. We can do all these things to help out other people we see as less fortunate than ourselves, but it's absolutely pointless unless we give them a fishing rod to be able to fish for themselves! Unless we give them the resources they need to succeed, they are never going to "make something of themselves."

I saw a video of Martin Luther King Jr. recently where he talked about African Americans being told to lift themselves by their bootstraps, and that they should do all they can to do that, but that it's a cruel to say to a bootless man. My eyes have been opened to so many struggles that I have the privilege to never have because of my skin.

Trevor Noah goes on to say "Working with Andrew was the first time in my life I realized you need someone from the privileged world to come to you and say, 'Okay, here's what you need, and here's how it works.' Talent alone would have gotten me nowhere without Andrew giving me the CD writer. People say, 'Oh, that's a handout.' No. I still have to work to profit by it. But I don't stand a chance without it."

It is incredibly important -- to me -- to give people access to a good education, to clean water, to a safe place to live, and help them succeed. Giving people a fishing pole so that they can fish for themselves, or a pair of boots so that they may pull themselves up by their bootstraps, is not a handout. It's setting them up for success so that they have the opportunity to do what they want despite what their life has given them -- the opportunity to fulfill their dreams. An opportunity that I have taken for granted, but never will again.

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