Welcome to Week 3 of the Online Book Club discussion of Born A Crime.
Did you enjoy the reading this week? The tone was different this week since the chapters mostly focused on Noah's relationship to his peers. Did you still like learning about his life, though?
One of the first things that immediately stuck out to me in this section was the part where Noah describes how the government classified people by race. Did you catch that part where he talked about the pencil test? A government official would stick a pencil in someone's hair, and if the pencil fell out, they determined that the person was white. If it stayed in the hair, the person was deemed "colored." Wasn't that wild? According to Noah, "he [a government clerk] could tick whatever box made sense to him, thereby deciding where you could live, whom you could marry, what jobs and rights and privileges you were allowed" (p. 119). Isn't that so sad? The whole process was so incredibly arbitrary, but it had such lasting consequences for so many. I thought that whole section was really upsetting.
Also upsetting in this section was the part where Abel beat up that kid who was mean to Noah. I was completely shocked that Abel would attack a child that way. His brutality definitely showed during that attack, and that scene made me incredibly wary of Abel. If he was willing to act that way towards a stranger, I couldn't imagine how he would act to his family.
In this section, there were several chapters about Noah's relationship with women. When he was 12, he had that disastrous Valentine's Day where the girl he thought would be his Valentine decided to go out with another boy. Then, there was the part about the girl named Zaheera who Noah could never confess his feelings to, and then, he found out she had had a crush on him all along. And, then, there was the girl, Babiki, who agrees to go to a dance with Noah. That dance date was so awkward to read about. I had a hard time even finishing that chapter. Could you believe he spent so much time with her before realizing that they didn't speak the same language and couldn't understand each other? I didn't expect that was the way their date was going to end. Did you have a hard time reading about these experiences? Did these chapters make you view Noah in a different way? It was interesting to think that he is such a public figure now, but there was a time when he was really awkward.
Noah also spends a lot of time talking about the ways he made money as a kid. He sold pirated CDs, and he had that food business where people would pay him to run to the front of the food line. What did you think of his money making schemes? Were you impressed by his entrepreneurial spirit? I don't think I would have thought to do either one of those jobs, so he definitely showed that he was a creative thinker.
Lastly, the part that stuck out to me the most was the chapter, "Colorblind." In it, Noah describes being caught on camera shoplifting with is friend, Teddy, but the camera washes out his face, so no one can identify him. Wasn't that interesting that everyone just looked at the skin tone on camera and didn't look closely to see that Noah was the accomplice? What do you think that revealed about the authorities? What did you make of that story?
What did I miss that you enjoyed in this section? What parts stuck out to you the most?
If you want to read more about Trevor Noah and his thoughts on identity, check out this article. And, make sure you check out the video link below to hear Noah talk about what his mom thinks of his celebrity.
I hope you're able to finish the book by next week! I can't wait to hear what you think of the last section!