by Trevor Noah
This is one of the most emotional yet funny novels that I’ve read in a long time. I’m a big fan of Trevor, no doubt, but my respect for the man has only increased after reading the book. If you can genuinely say that someone is living the American Dream, it is him.
Early in the book, he talks about how his mom would throw a vase at him when she’s mad at him. I could totally relate to that. What is more hilarious is that if the vase misses you and you didn’t catch it before it fell and broke, that’s your fault too! Once you caught the vase and made sure it’s safe, you got to run because, well, mom is mom. Your ass-whipping is still due.
The triumph of democracy over apartheid is sometimes called the Bloodless Revolution. It is called that because very little white blood was spilled. Black blood ran in the streets.
He recalls that as a child, he was told, “If you don’t hit your woman, you don’t love her.” This might sound terrible at first, but the more I talk to people, the more I realize this statement’s gravity. Domestic violence and, more generally, violence against women is so prevalent, especially in some countries, that you sometimes feel like giving up, as if there is no hope left.
“Language, even more than color, defines who you are to people.” This statement could not be any closer to the truth. If you speak the same language as someone else, you are more likely to “blend in.” I have experienced this first hand. Your appearances might alienate you to some extent, but if you speak their language, you’d be perceived as being one of them.
People are willing to accept you if they see you as an outsider trying to assimilate into their world. But when they see you as a fellow tribe member attempting to disavow the tribe, that is something they will never forgive. “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.”
Too many of us ignore things because we are too comfortable with what we have. I keep telling my friends, “It is hard to see how fucked up a system is, so long as we are doing well in the system.” This does not mean that the system is not fucked up. The system may be broken. Our generation is too comfortable with what we have, and more often than not, we just complain about the problems on social media instead of running for elections to bring in new laws or voting when our votes matter. But we cry on social media for sure. “People are getting hurt, and just because it’s not happening to you doesn’t mean it’s not happening.”
“Learn from your past and be better because of your past,” she would say, “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.”
“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.” I had a hard time reading this. I’ve been lucky in the sense that my parents did everything in their power to provide me with the best (whatever was around us, of course) education and the best of opportunities.
When I was younger, I used to think that the lack of effort and willingness to do things was holding back my people from doing well in school and coming up the social ladder. What I did not realize at the time was how social upbringing and economic status can affect a child’s life. I know of at least 10 people who had to leave school, despite doing well in their studies because they could not afford the fees.
I wish I could do something about it. I feel so helpless at times. I know it’s not a lot, but if I can sponsor 50 kids’ education through college over my lifetime, it would be a life well-lived. We’ll see how that goes.
You do not own the thing that you love.
We spend so much time being afraid of failure, fearful 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. “What if…” “If only…” “I wonder what would have…” You will never, never know, and it will haunt you for the rest of your days.
Cool guys get girls, and funny guys hang out with the cool guys with their girls. I’m best friend material at best. I’m not sad or anything, but sometimes I wonder, “If only…I was as cool as them.”
No matter what anyone tells you about money, it is essential. Money gives you choices. You have the freedom to like and dislike certain things. You even have the option to disagree with what other people say. When you are fighting for survival, you don’t get these luxuries in life. The richer you are, the more choices you have. That is the freedom of money.
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