Born a Crime Summary & Review

Author: Trevor Noah

Born a Crime (2016) is a book with multiple stories about a South American boy who experiences racism and various orthodox concepts due to the system of government that enabled white south Africans to subjugate the other races.
born a crime summary

Detailed Summary of Born a Crime

Trever Noah grew out of the hardships of southern Africa and became a famous TV star and comedian. His childhood experiences have nonetheless played an important role in who he became. In Born a Crime by Trevor Noah summary you will learn about his childhood experiences as a child of mixed color who felt left out.

Born a Crime represents the struggles that are faced by the people of color at large and sheds light on the hideous laws that propagate such behavior. Noah’s identity was a crime in the twentieth century because of his color.

Not only did he struggle internally to identify himself with a race the society made sure that he struggled on the outside too, every day. Mixing races was considered the biggest crime. It was like mixing something purely with something impure and those with mixed colors were made feel inadequate at every stage of their lives.

Born a Crime Summary Key Points

Born a Crime is a biography of the author who shares his personal life experiences, pain, and sufferings as a mixed child. When he was a kid, he faced difficulties because having sexual interracial was illegal and Noah was the evidence of their crime. The story teaches that despite all the troubles you can enjoy your life by hoping good and best for you.

The following key points are the basic principles of the book that disclose how her mother goes extraordinary to protect her child. Also, how she upbrings him to become a mischievous boy.

You might be interested in reading The Willpower Instinct Summary.

Disfranchisement of the Mixed Race

Noah was born in 1984 to a black woman named Patricia and a white-skinned man from Switzerland named Robert. At that time, it was illegal to have a sexual relationship between a black and white South African. Ah, no I am not kidding. It was in the law.

Apartheid, also known as apartness, was legislation that separated policies for the people of color. These laws were introduced by an all-white government of the National Party in 1948. Patricia was rebellious and strong. She didn’t care about these laws and Robert was totally against apartheid.

However, the child was born with a skin color that was neither black nor white. Due to this, Noah felt like he did not belong in that world. Was he black? Or was he white? He also had small recollections of his parents abandoning them in public cities because they were afraid to be seen with the child due to the laws and social stigma. His birth was a crime according to the law.

Although Apartheid ended, society was not ready to accept this change and Noah grew up feeling out of place. During the initial years of his life, he felt isolated. His mother however favored his education and he was soon able to learn four out of the eleven South African languages. She protected and raised her son despite the challenges and hate.

Noah Chose the Black Part of His Identity and Overcame his situation

“When you look at me, what do you see? When you see me, you see a war of colors because that is what you were taught to see.” -Charlena E. Jackson, Why Are You Obsessed with My Race?

Although in the initial years of his life, he faced an internal identity crisis, he soon found out that his ability to speak multiple languages and his wit enabled him to mix with a variety of people. He was able to open a tuck shop successfully, selling bootleg CDs, and become a DJ who had bookings all over the town before he landed his tv show.

His upbringing was among a lot of black people and he felt more inclined towards associating with them so he chose to identify as black. Through his own hard work and his mother’s fierceness, he was able to craft his personality and his career. He had to choose one side of his personality to survive because without this identification he would have been hanging in the middle and he chose black.

Post-Apartheid Africa and Black Employment

There was no market advantage for Black populations who were the target of segregationist policies at the time of apartheid and even after. Black people were mostly able to earn through crime. Some were forced into trafficking, and some earned through adultery, cleaning the streets, or waitressing.

Though Black was becoming aware that education was integral for their survival in such a society; systematic racism was keeping them out of decent jobs. It was very unlikely for a non-black employer to have a black employee.

Noah too got under the scrutiny of the police many times. He took a car from his grandfather’s garage not knowing its owner or background. As the police saw him driving around he was immediately taken in for theft where he spent a week. 

During his time in jail, he met many black men who were there due to much lesser crimes than the white were set free for. Including shoplifting and a play station game. His mother got him out through a lawyer by posting his bail. But this experience opened his eyes to the fact that the justice system was pinpointing the black for crimes that the white would be forgiven for.

At this stage of his life, he realized that the whole system was against him and he would have to accept that he will have to struggle way more than an ordinary person would in his country.

Born a Crime Quotes

“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.” –Trevor Noah

“Comfort can be dangerous. Comfort provides a floor but also a ceiling.” –Trevor Noah

Born a Crime Summary Review

Born a Crime is a hilarious, eye-opening, and heart-wrenching read. Noah’s wit and sarcasm make it a fun read while the reader navigates through the atrocities committed against people of color. It will inspire you in multiple ways and will make you feel accepted and seen.

To Whom I Would Recommend Born a Crime Summary

  • To the eighteen-year-old brown boy who is afraid to go to a college abroad due to racism.
  • To all the people of color who are struggling in places with white inhabitants.
  • And to anyone who wants to rise above their circumstances.