Since Trevor Noah grew up colored, or biracial, during the apartheid era of South Africa, he lived in several different regions. He grew up in his grandmother’s neighborhood, Soweto, which lead him to identify as black since the family living there was also black. However, Noah’s mother did not restrict his childhood to just one region. Noah writes that, “[he] realized [his mother] raised me like a white kid” not in the cultural sense, but in the sense that he could accomplish whatever he set his mind to (p. 57). He also spent time in Johannesburg, a primarily white area, where he went ice skating and to the drive-in (p. 73). Later, he writes about living in a white suburb, where blacks had to find a white person willing to rent out their garage or storage unit to a black person, giving the sense that blacks were not welcome (p. 88). He also lived in Eden Park, a predominantly black area, yet he did not feel close to the residents there. His father’s restaurant was even closed due to racial restrictions (p. 105). I believe each location shaped Noah’s identity because in some locations, such as Soweto, he considered his race important when it came to fitting in. Yet in other locations, such as Eden Park, Noah identified with the race but not the culture present. Ultimately, I believe this could have caused confusion for young Noah, since he was in the middle of the apartheid and colored people were not fully welcomed in any neighborhood. I think Noah learned to appreciate different cultures in the different neighborhoods, as each were different than the previous. Since Noah was colored, I believe he was influenced by each neighborhood, especially his father’s, since it did not cater to whites or blacks, in the sense that his father was a white owner but wanted to serve blacks yet still was forced to close.
Noah, Trevor.Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood. 1st ed., Spiegel & Grau, 2016.