tv Born a Crime CSPAN December 26, 2016 3:00pm-4:01pm EST
miami book fair. [applause] some of us have been involved from the beginning. many some of us gray beards realize we've been doing this more than half our lives which is pretty astonishing when i think about it. what an affair we have for you this year. we have everyone from james car develop to dane that perino to, we're doing a program this year call read caribbean. we have programs in spanish. we have wonderful new part of the fair called the porch, which is right that way. and as you know, after tonight, we have every evening we have authors coming in leading to the street fair which happens on friday where we have over 500 authors coming, programs in spanish and english and creole and there is literally something for everyone. we hope you do all you can do to
find out by going to miami book fair.com. create your own schedule. find out all the great things you would like to go to. it is also, it is also no exaggeration when i say that this book fair could not be done without the work of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of volunteers. but at the center of all of it is this remarkable, remarkable educational institution. i would like to thank from the bottom of my heart everybody at miami-dade college for giving us this remarkable gift. [applause] and you know, this has been quite a week, huh? to say the least. and, you know, after this really very emotional week my thoughts,
really, like all of us, we went into our little cocoons and listened to music, and i had the good fortune or unfortunate thing of listening to a lot of leonard cohn during that time. but, i, my thoughts began to turn to that time 35 years ago when a group of us were called down by dr. eduardo padron, the then vice president of this very campus and it was then a very much smaller miami-dade college. it was the early 1980s and miami was very much in turmoil. if you can remember the early '80s. hundreds of thousands of new immigrants came here. there was an incredible amount of racial strife. there were riots. we had very moribund downtown. nobody was sure what the future of downtown would be. in fact many might remember "time" magazine had an article that said, miami, colon,
paradise lost with a big question mark. miami at the time was really straining at its seams but under dr. padron's leadership a group of us felt we would help heal the wounds of our community by celebrating its diversity because back then miami was one of the most diverse communities in the country as it is now. we would invite everyone under one gigantic tent to celebrate the written word and begin a conversation together. that conversation hasn't stopped for these 33 book fairs. i for one want to thank dr. dr. padron, who is president of the largest college in the country, with eight campuses. [applause] for never waiverring from that vision and in this year's fair
you will hear from the best writers of poetry, fiction, history, politics and memoir. from every color of the spectrum. we need the big tent of the book fair now more than ever. it reaffirms our commitment to help all of us here and everywhere mark and celebrate what we all have in common, the love of ideas and the power of the written word to express them. we need this book fair now more than ever. i hope you will agree with me. [applause] the book fair has grown over all these years and we have some remarkable sponsors. we're pleased to announce tonight that we have a partnership with the de groot foundation to launch the miami book fair de groot prize for unpublished novell la. as far as i know just about the only one in the country and
we're lucky enough to have charles and clydette de groot here with us to say a few words and introduce tonight's session. charles de groot has mba from the harvard business school and worked in finance until founding a real estate company which he listed on the new york stock exchange. he has served on the boards of directors of several for-profit and non-profit organizations and lectures in international business schools. clydette de groot hold as doctorate in psychology and post doctoral in neurodevelopment. beautiful sciences and family medicine training programs and international consulting business and has served on numerous non-profit boards. charles and clydette are chairs of the de groot foundation which supports literary, art, education and innovation projects. they divide their time between paris and miami. on a personal note, there
couldn't be two more nice people in the entire world. so please welcome charles and clydette de groot. [applause] >> thank you very much, mitchell. when clawed debt and i and my parents set up the de groot foundation. we initiate ad prize for an unpublished novella. we picked novella, perfect genre in this fast-paced societies. they translate very well into films. elmore leonard, almost all of his books have been made into movies. so for the last two cycles of the prize we partnered with shakespeare and company, the bookstore in paris and in the last competition we had a approximately 600 entrants from
all around the world. and now we're very excited to be partnering with miami-dade college and mime book fair because -- miami book fair because we feel they can extend the reach of the prize as well as create a solid home so it is sustainable and it will live a long life. >> as charles just said, we're absolutely thrilled to be working with mitchell kaplan and the wonderful team that organizes this wonderful book fair that goes on literally all year long. a prize like this serves i think a very important purpose. it's important to keep discovering new voices and also we need to keep supporting and encouraging anyone who writes. as mitchell said the written word is very important. and the novella is a wonderful form. it is longer than a short story and shorter than a novel. when you think of some -- we grew up learning about great authors reading novellas like hemingway's old man and the sea
and there are lots of other novellas out there and learned to enjoy and about great writers. so we're really excited about this endeavor. all the detail about the prizes, how the submission process works will be up on the miami book fair on january 1. most of all we invite all writers to submit your work. thank you. [applause] >> i know you came here to listen to clydette and i but listen to the other guy first. we're thrilled trevor noah is here tonight with us. [cheers and applause] as most of you know he was born and raised in south africa where he honed his skills as a television host an actor and comedian and he moved to the u.s. in 2011. in 2015, he received, what i
think is the greatest acknowledgement of anybody in his industry. jon stewart selected him to take over "the daily show." [applause] and backstage i was telling trevor about what a great honor i thought that was. he said, look, he said, anybody who took over a job after jon stewart is an idiot. [laughter] and i was that idiot. but he is a delightful man. i look forward to him being out here in just a minute but in the latest issue of "vanity fair" he said his greatest heros are his mother and all single mothers. he will talk more about that in his book. [applause] and he said the motto he lives by is, everything is helping you.
and i think that is good for all of us to remember in these turbulent times. trevor will be in conversation with bob weisberg after president obama was elected, bob was appointed the regional attorney for the miami district of the u.s. equal employment opportunity commission. he oversees the enforcement of federal laws that prohibit workplace discrimination throughout florida, puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands. prior to joining the eeoc in 2010, he maintained a private civil rights law practice for over 20 years, representing victims of workplace discrimination and other types of civil rights violation. so please join me in welcoming trevor noah and bob weisberg. [applause]
>> hello, everyone. trevor, i want to welcome you to miami and welcome you to the miami book fair. >> thank you so much. thank you for having me. thank you for coming out everybody. [applause] >> and i really want to congratulate you on writing a phenomenal book. i've, i've sort of been engrossed in it for the last couple of weeks, and i found it poignant, scary, funny and i learned a lot about south africa that i never would have otherwise known. i really thank you for that. >> thank you. >> thank you for being so truthful. >> thank you. i appreciate it. thank you.
[laughter] >> i recognize that many of you in this room, and your family members have shed a lot of tears since last tuesday. and are keenly interested in hearing trevor's take on what happened. i assure you that whether we get to it in our conversation or not, there is an opportunity after that is going to be a question and answer period of and you can ask trevor all about that. so, so, trevor, let me start with the title of your book, it's, "born a crime." what did you mean by that? >> well, i was born at a time when, in south africa, due to the laws of apartheid my parents weren't allowed to be in any shape or form in contact with one another. you know, i grew up during a
time when we were governed by the laws of misogyny. interracial relationships were forbidden, mixing of races was forbidden. essentially being born from my parents, a white swiss man, and a black woman from south africa, i was essentially born a crime, you know. the very existence of me was something that was against the law. what my parents had done was breaking the law and because of that, our lives were impacted in the way we could live as a family under those laws of apartheid. >> you were born in 1984? how did you interact with, your black mother and your white father at that time? >> lucky for me i interacted with them like a child.
you know? [laughter]. i was very lucky my parent did a great job shielding me from realities what was going on in the country. i only knew the world i was in. and i was only surrounded by people in the same world as i. so ignorance truly was bliss in that regard. i knew i had a father who was white, but i didn't know he was a white person. i just knew he was my father. i knew i had a mom who was black. but again her race meant nothing to me because at the time that was the only way i knew it to be. i thought fathers were white and uncles were black and that is how the world worked. [laughter]. so i was truly shielded from the stress of what was happening in the country at the time. it was only as we started transitioning and i got older, i was realizing, i was lucky i was on the cusp of a country achieving democracy and equality before i became a fully functioning human being.
>> when you were young, could you go to the park with your mother and father and play like other kids were playing at the time? >> well, i could. the question i guess is were we allowed to? that was the key thing. we couldn't be seen in public together, you know. my mother broke many laws by living where she lived. she, i write about this in the book. she illegally rented an apartment in an area that was considered a white area, and sew what she would do, she would masquerade as our made, as my maid, that is how she would walk around with me. she would dress in maid overalls. that is how we get around -- she found ways to circumvent the system. she found ways to get around rules she didn't agree with and, so for me, i still played with my mother, you know, because from the outside i don't know what it looked like to everyone but a lot of people just assumed
that's a black woman was the caretaker of this child who was in south africa colored. my father, he couldn't be with us at all in public. there were times when we were together but he wouldn't play the role of a father because then that would give the game away. so there was a limitation. but one story i tell in the book is, when i was really young i used to love running. i still do. but i would go with my mom and dad and, if we were in public in a park together, the only, limitation was that i couldn't get too close to him. i couldn't be seen as his son. so i would chase him as any child would their father but then he would run away. [laughter]. then to protect us. i was like, yes, the game is on. i would chase him and my mother would be chasing me. so i, like many other children have great memories of running
in the park with my parents. the only difference they see it from a slightly different perspective. >> you talk about the book, when you visit your grandmother in soweto how frightened they were of you being out in the street. >> yeah. you know what? that was one of the moments when i learned in the book, i only realized that when i was writing the book, i tried to write everything from memory but for some stories i felt like i had pieces missing. so i went back and i asked my grandmother and my mom about a few of the stories. one that fascinated me as well, i have grown up my entire life as a child who was basically looked indoors. i was an indoor kid. i didn't suffer. i loved reading. i loved staying indoors in my own world and i always knew my grandmother wouldn't allow me to go outside because she was afraid they would steal me. that is all she would say, they will steal you, they will steal
you. whenever she said that she meant the neighbors or kidnappers in the neighborhood. i assumed it was just people. only when i went back to talk to her about the book i came to learn from her that she was afraid the police would take me away. if they saw me in a black area they would know immediately i didn't belong because of the laws. they would have every right to take me, send me off to an orphanage and my family would never see me again. i even learned, this was as a grown man, i didn't really know how dire the situation actually was. >> so you didn't until like working on the book realize why everyone always wanted trevor to stay inside? >> yeah. i was a little terror. i thought they were protecting the world. that is what i thought some of it was. [laughter] >> the book you make i think
repeated references to recognizing, you say it different way, the genius of apartheid, how the architects of apartheid built the most advanced system of racial oppression known to man. what about it makes you describe it in that way? >> well, because, you, you have to acknowledge it's an insane amount of hard work that went into building such an abominable system, you know? apartheid was perfect racism. it was a system designed to open press a majority because, american and south africa, share a lot of similarities in terms of a racial history, in terms of reckoning with that racial history in the present but one prays where it was different that in south africa, black people are the majority. so the question is, how do you open press the majority isn't is extremely difficult. how do you make the majority
unable to stand up? and the apartheid government was really, really committed to finding a way to do that. they studied racism from all over the world, from the dutch, from australia, from the united states. they looked at all different systems and coalesced them into finding the perfect racism. and so they found that the key was to separate people into the most i guess, it was the minutia of the groups. finding ways to convince people they were different even when they were not. so they didn't see black as a monolith as it is seen in america. they said, no, we'll divide you up into your tribes. we'll divide you shades of your darkness. that is where colored came from. if you're biracial in
america, half black, half white, you're characterized as black. in south africa, they have didn't do that. the skill there was dividing up people by their language, culture, by their tribeses and creating smaller groups you
could pit against each other to have dominion over in the reg gomez. it was really scary and thought out. i wonder like racists, they are really committed. i wonder why they aren't committed to making the world a better place because they're very good at what they do. [applause] i sometimes wish -- >> you talk a lot about the how important language is and was keeping people separate. how did it play out into the sort of apartheid sort of design? the. >> there were different ways. you know it was everything from the schooling system in which children were
taught in languages that weren't theirs. certain languages were prioritized above others. language was one of the biggest barriers, you know, in terms of giving a person an opportunity
to switch from one world to another. one of the things i grew up realizing the power of language. i have a quote in the book, and it was nelson mandela who said, if you speak to a man in a language he understands you speak to his head. you speak to have a man in his language you speak to his heart. the power of language is something i learned over the years it is one of the biggest things that divides people. essentially there is nothing there, it is miscommunication. people perceiving a difference because of how you communicate using a different language. what i learned very quickly, my family and i realized language was a tool to divide people and bring them together. i learned in my life, every time i learned a new language i gained entry into another world. i grew insight into another way of living and another way of thinking.
probably one of the biggest thing i learned from languages, i continue to gain, i try to learn as many as i can, i think it's a constant humility forced on you because when you learn a new language. you can't be arrogant bit. you have to be a child again. you have to accept that you will be stupid again. you have to accept that you can't be superior again because you probably don't know what superior is in that language. [laughter]. it is really something. i advocate learn a new language. not about being good. try to learn a new language. you will be surprised how it activates different parts of your mind thinking about other people. >> as you learned new languages, did it surprise your fellow countrymen that this colored person would be speaking languages other than africanner or english, whatever it may be? >> definitely.
i came in terms of a ranking english, african, subset of dutch, those were two languages spoken and two languages you needed. everything else was considered the riffraff. everything else was considered below. it was sub -- nothing that was to be aspired to. so you had all of these tribes in south africa and still do, people who speak their language at home. they will speak the language of the colonizers, whether the english or africans. i found one of the best ways and quickest ways to connect to people was to try to learn their language. fellow south africans. i didn't understand how we were separated until i came to realize the language was a great tool that could be used to separate people because fundamentally, if you can not understand the person, as stupid as it sounds, you can not understand the person.
and so i set out to do that. i found it was one of the most amazing thing i did, even for myself. even for selfish reason i found i could connect to people and gave me access to worlds i never had access. >> seems like, don't want to give some compelling stories away, there are instances because of your ability to speak language you were able to manuever in worlds you might never otherwise have been able to manuever in or been accepted in. >> definitely, that is exactly what it is. >> and at the same time, currently there's south africa has 11 national languages. >> that's true. >> and that is i guess, leftover or -- >> what i think happened was, we came from a place where some languages were put above others. once we achieved democracy, the question was what now becomes our official language? and i guess because we had come from a world where no one wanted to put anything below or above
another thing, we just like, make them all official languages. so we ended up with official languages, and i think four or five languages in the national anthem as well. which is, extremely difficult but i guess, every one's heart is in the right place. >> yes. the, your grandmother lived in soweto. >> yeah and still does. >> still does. and you would spend a lot of time there? is that -- >> i did, yeah. >> and you, for americans, we speak for myself, i think a lot of americans associate soweto with sort of uprisings against apartheid? >> yes. >> home where nelson mandela lived. you describe it, at least to me, in an interesting way. you describe the starks poverty of soweto, but you also right,
quoting, something magical about soweto. yes it's a prison designed by our oppressors but it also gave us a sense of self-determination. what did you mean by that? >> well i think what i meant by that was, completely what i felt by being in the place. that was the strength of, of the human being, the ability of the human being to overcome situations that seem like they were designed to be oppressed or were designed to oy press. soweto was one of those. people moved from where they lived, black people forced to leave, taken out of certain areas that were taken away from black people and given to white people. then they were forced to live in this new place with almost nothing. and, yet from that nothing came
so many amazing stories, came so many ideas, so many amazing leaders because essentially the one thing that i think the apartheid government didn't think about was, when they created soweto, what they essentially did was, they created a home base for thoughts. they created a space where people could exist and galvanize within. and what happened was, it was one of the birthplaces of the struggle. it was one of the birthplaces of the protest. it was one of the birthplaces of south africa's identity in terms of politics that emerged. because black people were forced to create and fend for themselves. this was not a space promoted by the government. so the people found a way to create micro economies. whether it be stores became resellers of food, you know, of people who set up their own auto shops to fix cars. people created different economies.
even public transportation that wasn't provided by the government, they found ways to formalize what was an informal system and create that themselves. that is essentially what happened is. in trying to keep a group of people separated and helpless and hopeless, what ended up happening i guess unintentionally through the resolve of the people who were in soweto, those people became hopeful, powerful and more determined than ever. . . >>. >> giving water inpeople's homes, households would share
one toilet, there were shops , i mean it seems so deathly other than the police force so it wasn't police as we know but like the swat team. >> it was a heavily militarized force. >> yes. >> that's one of the funny things, the side effect, i know some peopledisagree. many people do agree but that's why they talk about the moral arc of the universe tending towards justice . essentially that was the one thing that came out of it. we live in a world where i shared a toilet with four different families. we shared a toilet, we shared one tap at this point to get our water from. we shared a piece of land and essentially what happened was that was what came the strength of the community
because we were living in this world where we didn't know our neighbors, we were living in a world where we were talking to the people around us, we were living in a world where we are were isolated and having an experience by ourselves. because of the way the government without realizing it enabled the people to find each other within those spaces and so it was terrible and it wasn't a great way to live and as i say, the unintended consequences were created community. >> i think i told you we were just talking before how much i learned from your book and one thing i learned was thinking that the sweater was an african name only to learn after reading your book that it's really an acronym for southwest township. >> that's what i'm talking about, how it reclaimed something and took it away from someone who thought they would oppress you the cut is is is now an african word. it's something we probably claim so suwetois my home, we say it as the african place that it is . >> in 1990, apartheid ended
and nelson mandela was released, though there were no elections i think until 1994.and i think a great expression in your description and your book is that the end of apartheid wasn't like the berlin wall crashing down. it was a slow crumbling. what was your life like, not your, you are six yearsold . as a colored person in south africa as apartheid started to end? >> as i tell in the book, i never, i'm extremely lucky in that where i born a few years earlier, i would have been subject to so much more of the racism in my country. were i born years later, i
may not have appreciated the hardships from whence freedom came. being born at the time that i was , i was old enough to see the transition. i was old enough to see democracy take hold and yet at the same time i was young enough to recover from the effects of people not being afforded that democracy and when apartheid ended, it was a very gradual thing. america has a similar history with the abolishment of slavery or the civil rights movement, it doesn't happen overnight. it's not a paper you sign and people go okay, i guess we were wrong, what's go home. there's a lot of convincing that has to be done, there's a gradual process and that's one of the greatest challenges and i speak about that in the book as well is that i've come to realize that it's frustrating, especially for people who have been oppressed when you come to realize that freedom is just the beginning.
you know, freedom is just the beginning of the journey.a lot of the time, we think of it as the end and yet it's not. i sometimes think of barriers whether they be racial or gender or whatever the barriers are and we think of it as when you break that barrier down so when people of color achieve equality, when women achieve equality, when that happens, all that happened is you've been allowed access to now climb the mountain. freedom is just getting there, now you still have to climb this mountain that's before you and that's what we came to realize in south africa. it was this wonderful moment that was a honeymoon. the cause it was amazing. the feeling was a special thing and then we were like oh wow, this is now a lot of hard work. >> you talk abouthow the black men grew up in wychwood . in the talk about how black men can rule but which black
men are going to rule? >> that became an issue because sometimes you don't think of the end, especially in your oppressed, how is ever going to and then when it ends you find a place where everything will give towards seeking out freedom and you know, it's almost as if not all of those leaders who were geared toward fighting for freedom were the same leaders who can now move forward once freedom has been achieved and that's a very tough thing we see in countries all over the world, a lot of times liberators and up becoming the oppressors. a take over, they free the people and once that freedom is achieved, there's no longer anything to fight over so many times we see this. i know it happens in many countries where liberators start stopping their own pockets and start enriching themselves and the next thing you know you are in the same cycle as just a face at the top has changed and the label has shifted but it doesn't
feel like anything has moved for the people. >> where did you as a colored person fit in as apartheid was being dismantled? >> i was lucky, i was extremely lucky in that my mother always lived an outsider. to give you an understanding for people may not know, inside south africa, all the races were broken down so it's the most superior and the darker your skin tone became, the fewer liberties you were afforded and disinfected everything from the jobs you have to the education you could receive to how you were treated in prison, the meals you would get and what you would wear within a prison so as strange as it sounds, because of my skin color i was considered a superior race to my own mother, i was considered an inferior race to my own father so i was, that's what blood means in south africa, it doesn't mean anything with
regards to lack the way it does in america and so i grew up in this world where i grew up living the black experience. what happened was the country wanted to define me as something else because of how i look. my mother-in-law was, she had a child from a white man, that tells you everything. so essentially i existed in a space where i knew that i wasn't defined by labels that were set out for me because we never fit in. my family didn't match any family around me, there were no other colored peoplein my neighborhood, in orlando east where i grew up , so that was something that i don't think
was allowed to affect me because of the world i grew up in. it was something that my mom really fought againstbecause she didn't believe in us and defined by what people wanted to define themselves .>> with your ability to speak different languages, did you find yourself sitting in or identifying with groups at different times? >> yes, i grew up as an outsider. and one of the greatest gifts i feel, it's really hard to be an outsider most of the time because you feel like exactly that, and outsider. you feel like you never belong. the most amazing gifts that i feel you receive from being an outsider is that it forces perspective on you.i don't exist in a bubble because you are always somebody else. you're always getting to see something else of you because most of the time you're in their world. so language was one of those things, i would have to adopt somebody else's language and
live within it to live within a different community, to communicate with different people they cut but because of that, it shaped me in different ways. it gave me access to thoughts, ideas and experiences i would never have had. >> after apartheid was coming down, did some collards, colored persons tend to relate more to the white community as opposed to the black community or remain colored? >> definitely. in terms of the way apartheid was structured in such a way that, again, all of these things in the book but the idea was that you could convince people and we still see thisevery day , people are convinced that the reason they are achieving is because of another group or another
race that is holding them back. and now we are living through the time where it is a lot of the time a white voice that is spreading that message and that is, that's what the government in south africa did, they said to colored people you are almost white area you're almost there, just a few shades. but unfortunately, you still got that little bit of black and you. so you never know, if you breathe correctly for a few generations, if you marry right, you may be able to ascend to a place of being white and this sounds ridiculous but every year in south africa, able could be reclassified racially so if you are a colored person whose hair became straight enough and your face became light enough you could be reclassified as a white person and the same could happen inversely, if you were seen to be getting too dark, too much time in the sun, you
could be reclassified as now a colored person and they didn't care about your genealogy. it all went on appearances because it is ridiculous at the end of the day so the law had to beridiculous to echo the ridiculousness of the idea . so what happened was there were people who resented any part of themselves that was connected to what they were told was inferior. there were people who resented the idea that they came from a place, an idea, and identity or people who in some of their minds were holding them back and the poster boy being, we need to rise up and not rise up to the level of white people but rather rise up to this society, achieve our equality and instead it was an attitude of leaving them behind and let's try to ask aspire to enter the place that the white people said we can't get to area. >> i think unmistakably the
hero of your book is your mom yes i think it's really loud and clear and i'm going to read you quickly a message and ask you to comment. this really struck me as to how special she was. or she is, 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 and my ideas andthoughts and visions matter. my mother showed me what was possible . the thing that always amazed me about her life is that no one showed her. no one chose her. she did it on her own.
she found her way through sheer force of will. i was nearly 6 when mandela was released, 10 before democracy finally came, yet she was preparing me to live a life of freedom long before we knew freedom would exist area. [applause] can you just comment on that?>> once when we couldn't deny growing up was we were living in a police state. and one of the biggest things we were taught growing up was whether it wasmy grandmother, grandfather, and was at as a black child, you had to be twice as good .you knew that you weren't afforded the same liberties, you work allowed to be making the same mistakes because there was a system that was waiting to imprison or kill you so you had to be twice as good, twice as polite, twice as,
just twice as a human being. and my mom to a certain extent but that trend and that system. she brought me up as if i would be in a world where i was free to express my thoughts. he brought me up as if i were going to live in a world where i wouldn't beimpressed . i guess it's an extremely risky gamble because she had no idea that it would add but we live as if it would. so my mom told me, she said speak up. voice your concerns, challenge me as your mother, that was the one thing my mom interviewed within the was the idea that i could challenge her authority. don't get me wrong, i was still on the end of many spankings from her but i was told that i could challenge her because in challenging her we would both learn and i still try to keep up today, i tell people i'm proud to say that i don't know.
i don't know most things in what's great about not knowing is the joy of filling in that boy or even knowing that you can still learn new things. a lot of the time, i don't know why we learn our entire lives and become adults and we go we know now, we are done and we don't, there's alwayssomething new to learn, there's always an idea that we can change . but my mom always encourage that. >> before we go to questions, there's one final kind of question for you trevor and again, this is something that in sort of looking at different things for our discussion today, it really struck me and when you were announced to be the new host of the daily show, the guardian newspaper noted in reference to your selection and i'm quoting, this is a big achievement not only for south africa but for the continent . and then i looked up google
and south africa has 55 million people. there's 1.2 billion people in africa. do you see yourself as a trailblazer for others from south africa and from africa by taking on such a prominent, important position in the us entertainment world? >> i see myself more as a proud citizen. i've always considered myself kind of a citizen of the world and once i was afforded the ability to travel, i graciously grasp that with both hands and i embraced it. i always tell people to travel. just try to travel. my favorite quote is that traveling is the antidote to ignorance and i truly believe that it is. so for me, i'm really proud to come from a country where
we achieved odds, we achieved things that are insurmountable, did things that no one believed could be done. we had a bloodless revolution and it's not a perfect country but we managed to find a way to shift power from a minority that was essentially running a dictatorship and moving that over to a majority that was running the country and still is and it's not overnight, that's why i sayfreedom is a lot of hard work . but i feel like they came from an exceptional place, a country that's a trailblazer so i'm honored to be a child of south africa and africa and when i go out into the world, i celebrate that. i have so much to learn about africa as a whole. it's not a country which is a surprise to some people but i do consider myself an african as much as i do a south african because of how many
stories we share across the continent, how many trials and tribulations we've been forged in together and so i see myself as less of a trailblazer and more of somebody who is rising to heights because of those who rose before me and that was one of the main things my mom said to me in the book, the biggest thing my mom wanted was she said every generation should be further forward area than the one that came before it. that's all she wanted was for one generation to move the bar forward to the next. >> trevor, thank you. i just have a question. >> we do have time for questions. just a few. if you can come up to the mic right here . again, as all of you know trevor has a day job.
and he will be traveling on a really tight schedule so we are only going to be ableto take a few questions to allow him to make it back . and everyone's lighting up. i guess we will do the daily show tomorrow right from this spot. let's take the first question. >> thank you trevor, i enjoyed so much hearing you, my nameis sean, , thank you. i lead a tour group in 1994 to south africa and we visited suweto and the children in the school saying to us andwe danced . it was very moving but what
was interesting was, we had a native south african tour guide helping us and he surprised me, alarms me when he said there were better times during the apartheid because now most of us are unemployed and we've been fired from our jobs cause they have to give us fair wages. and i was thinking it's like in the hebrew bible in exodus when the jews escape from bondage and slavery from egypt and then they started complaining in the desert, we want to go back to slavery. that's when you were speaking about freedom so difficult so i would like your comments because i heard it more than once from other black south africans that they had better times before. >> i will say this, i cannot speak for everyone in south
africa and i acknowledge that through a combination of the hard work of my parents, and hard work, i know that i'm in a position of privilege though i cannot speak for everyone who may not have the same things that i do but i do know this, freedom as i say is hard work. just because you achieve it, does not mean now everything is going to be good and a lot of times the fault falls at the feet of those who delivered the promises of liberation. if we look at the stories across the board and we even see that in america now, the promises that are made by the politicians of are those of a better life, are those of a life that will instantaneously become beneficial for all and in south africa, that's what the anc promised at the time. they said free housing and free everything and it was
this rule that was promised that was like now that you've defeated the oppressor, everything will be open to you, you will get to enjoy the spoils. but the truth is what you have achieved is the ability to work for the spoils and it's a tough thing. as liberators now have to work on providing those opportunities. think about it like this, in south africa we had a country designed for a minority that didn't even make up 10 percent of the population. this is everything, housing, plumbing, the electrical grid system, highways, everything. were just designed for a tiny percent of the population so once the country is now free, obviously that means you are not going to be able to get everybody to the same level and there's going to be a lot of capital that needs to be subjected, there's going to be a redistributionof wealth that needs to happen . there's going to be a lot of systems that need to change in order for that change to take effect. but when people say to me it
was better, i struggle to grapple with the idea that it is better to be enslaved. i think one of the closest parallels and by no means am i saying it's the same thing but it's when i read stories of prisoners who tell the story of how, because of how hard we worked in society, we integrate. some prisoners would rather stay in prison. they go i get food, i get a bed. i know what my life is. i get to go to a library and i'm part of a community and when you set me free i see the world as a prison and so the question we should be asking ourselves is not was it better under apartheid is that how do we create more and more opportunities in south africa but in america to free those people were to give them access to that freedom? because in the book i have a quote where i say teach a man
to fish and he will eat for a day. give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will live forever but one thing i always think of is you don't give him the tool to fish, all that information is useless. so the rod is as important. >> thank you. >> we do have limited time, if you could really make him a question, that would be great. >> hi trevor, my name is melissa born and raised in puerto rico and i came here when i was already in my early 20s, just about the time you were born. i didn't know the difference between black and white until i moved to this country. i did not face racism until i moved here and i saw it in a different way. my grandmother was as dark as the ground your shoes are on. have you ever encountered racism and what have you done, racism in this country and what have you done about it at that moment? >> i guess it hasn't shaken
me because i come from a place where we have some of the finest race in the world. you will struggle to shake me with what you have here. i find often times racism in my experience comes from a place of fear, strangely enough. a lot of the time i think we treat racism as a cause and yet i see it as fear. people can disagree with me but personally i see racism as a symptom and the cause stems from many different things but a lot of the time that racism comes from a fear . those that i've experienced racism from see me or see the black man or see a brown man as a threat to their livelihood, as a threat to their dominance, a threat to
the promise they were given by their fathers or the leaders before he told them this was their land and this was their future and to many people the idea of sharing is the idea of giving it all away and so often times when somebody is racist to me, i'm lucky that none of the incidents have been physical and so it's mostly words. and i'm a firm believer in most emotions in the worldare a choice that we make , things are happening to us but the way we respond to that is an emotional choice and so if anything i smile and i send it right back. i don't believe that you can spoil my day because of something you say. you don't define me by saying that. [applause] >> i know most of you are going to hate me but we have time for two more questions, sorry. each of you have a book. let me finish. in the book is an email address, send an email to
that email address and you will get trevor and i'm sure he will answer your questions. >> promises politicians make. and you wonder why there's a revolution. >> two more questions. >> your father was white why didn't you leave? >> that was a question i asked my mom, funny enough. most south africans did leave, they went to exile, left to other countries. some went to go and plan how they would come and respire revolution. others went left to escape what was happening.i didn't know we could leave. i didn't know there was an option, i only knew the country i was in and i asked mom why the hell didn't we leave? i once i saw whatswitzerland was , i said are you kidding me? are you kidding me? and my mom said one of the
most powerful things to me, she looked at me and said leave and go, this is my country. she says i'm not going to let somebody chase me out of my country. she says i'm going to stay here and claim what is mine. [applause] so it's as simple as that. i did leave because i didn't know we could leave and i don't think i would be as strong as my mother was but she wasn't going to allow somebody to take what was hers in exchange for an easier life. >> last question. >> i made it. i'm nina, very nice to meet you. i grew up in america, biracial, clearly i'm biracial and i faced a lot of color is him, racism within the actual black community because i wasn't fully black or vice versa on the white
side, i wasn't totally white. do you did you experience that same color as an in south africa growing up as a kid as you did, did blacks ever make you feel different from them and look at you are certain way or teach you differently because you weren't as dark as they work and vice versa? >> know, i was lucky in that i didn't experience that within the african community and i think it is partly because of the hierarchy that was created and so i found that within the black community i was welcomed because in essence what i found, even when traveling the world, a lot of the times communities that are having a tougher time or an experience that is not particularly pleasant are more welcoming to outsiders then that choose that experiencebecause they go no one would want to be here so we're not going to judge you, come on in . >>
you are choosing to be here. you're choosing to protect me and we move on from here. people who saw me being exactly like them questioned why i wasn't because i culturally was not the same. i was rejected by people because they felt i was rejectthem because i was being myself. we have been doing that all the time in communities. we feel people are exactly like us and we shun them because they are living a life different than ours when in fact they're living a life true to themselves. that is something i didn't experience at an extreme level