Born a Crime

by Trevor Noah

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Student Question

How does the following quote from Born a Crime illustrate prejudice?

"My mom raised me as if there were no limitations on where I could go or what I could do. When I look back I realize she raised me like a white kid—not white culturally, but in the sense of believing that the world was my oyster, that I should speak up for myself, that my ideas and thoughts and decisions mattered."

Quick answer:

This quote from Born a Crime illustrates the concept of prejudice because it shows how nonwhite people under apartheid in South Africa were conditioned to feel that they were not as capable as white people. Trevor's mother refused to let her son feel this way and taught him to thrive in spite of racial prejudice.

Expert Answers

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When Trevor was growing up, black and colored people in South Africa had few opportunities. They lived in a society that constantly reminded them that they could never achieve what white people could. Throughout his memoir, Trevor frequently describes the psychological tole that apartheid had on South Africans of every race. It convinced them that it was their race that defined their capabilities, their potential, and their limitations. This system of organized statutory prejudice broke the spirit of many nonwhite South Africans. This was an insidious form of prejudice that was designed to destroy the will and morale of those it oppressed. At the same time, the system of apartheid was meant to artificially inflate the sense of worth of those it was designed to benefit.

This quotation illustrates how Trevor's mother, Patricia, refused to let racial prejudice affect her son in this way. She raised him to understand that he was as capable as any white person. Together, Patricia and Trevor lived in defiance of apartheid. Apartheid was designed to treat someone like Trevor as an outcast. His mother refused to let this happen. She made sure that Trevor understood that the prejudice that apartheid supported would not be a barrier to him.

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