Racism During the Apartheid Essay Example

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1309 Words
Date:  2022-10-20


This is an expository essay on racism mainly during the apartheid era in South Africa. This essay will mainly elaborate on three main themes that are significant to this type and relate to each other. These themes include language as a cultural tool, growing up with racism and the love and sacrifice of a mother. The main point of reference in this essay will be the book 'Born a Crime' written by Trevor Noah. The book is basically a raw representation of the events that were experienced by the writer during the apartheid era in South Africa from his perception of being a colored person. In this essay, I hope to find evidence from the book 'Born a Crime' that will support the existence of the three mentioned themes.

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The book, Born a Crime is a story of a troublesome young boy who grows into a persistent and unstoppable young man as he finds himself in an environment where he is not supposed to exist. The book also narrates about how this young man's mother is determined to save him from violence, abuse, and poverty. The book talks about the events that happened during the apartheid period in South Africa when the country was under the rule of the white minority. During this period, racial segregation was rampant, and it was against the law for people from different races to marry. The author of the book, Trevor Noah, born on February 20th, 1984 in Johannesburg (Noah 2016: 20). He is a South African comedian (Noah 2016: 169).


The Love and Sacrifice of a Mother

The relationship between any child and their mom is always significant while growing up. Children normally treasure this relationship as it makes them feel safe, protected and loved. In different circumstances, it is always up to the mother to grow up with happiness despite their fathers being absent. Some mothers understand the importance of their children having a relationship with their fathers as it is always a process of finding oneself, and not wondering if their father loves them or not. "Because he's a piece of you," she said, "and if you don't find him, you won't find yourself." (Noah 2016: 61) In the book, just like other mothers, Trevor's mother wanted for him to grow up knowing his father despite the situation in which Trevor was basically a product of a crime. The love, care, and attention that mothers give their children enable them to progress learn and view the world differently (Noah 2016: 152-153). Despite the circumstances brought about by poverty, mothers always strive to show their children that there is a better world out there and that life could change for the better. "even if he never leaves the ghetto, he will know that the ghetto is not the world. If that is all I accomplish, I've done enough."- Trevor's mom(Noah 2016: 46). Despite facing difficult situations, mothers choose their children and sacrifice everything they have to make sure that their children have a chance of having a better life (Noah 2016: 44). Lastly, with respect to this book and from my personal observation, Trevor's mother makes it her goal to make sure that her son forgets the pain that him being colored brought upon his life. These mothers enable these children to have a different perspective on life and view the positive aspects (Noah 2016: 55).

Growing up with Racism

A majority of South African natives faced from day to day during and after the apartheid era. The oppressed believed in equal rights and did not seem to agree with the rules and regulations that were put in place to prevent native South Africans from exercising their rights. Despite this black people were restricted from visiting white neighborhoods as a result of racism. With reference to the book 'Born a crime,' Trevor's mom, Patricia would carefully take him on drives to white neighborhoods for him to see the world really looked like (Noah 2016: 73). From my perspective, racism was faced on both sides especially for colored people were they considered black enough and not white enough, they were just colored. This made the childhood of many children difficult due to this judgment. This must have been confusing as a child. This is evident where Trevor was playing with his friends, and he got questioned by other colored people as to why he was playing with black kids. Trevor says that he is black; however, they go ahead to tell him he is colored and not black (Noah 2016: 140). During this apartheid era, the issue of race led to oppression for the colored and black people. With the apartheid rules, colored children could not freely walk outside with either his mother or father because he simply represented a crime that their parents had committed which was having an affair with a person of a different race. Other than, that the other aspect of racism is when colored people were considered slightly superior to black people. This is evident where Trevor gets special treatment as his grandmother says that she is unable to discipline him because he is white. In this particular situation, it is evident that despite being colored, he gets white privilege against his cousins. In addition to that, his grandmother somehow believes that white people are superior to black people (Noah 2016: 33). With this, it is therefore that 'growing up with racism' is one of the critical themes that the book depicts in the apartheid era.

Language as a Cultural Tool

The use of language is a persistent theme throughout the book and is ideally represented by Nelson Mandela's words: "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." (Noah 2016: 138). Looking into how the South African majority was separated during the apartheid era, each community was forced to learn their specific language in school. This was critical as the inability to communicate in the language of a specific community would lead to isolation and even danger. Just like in today's world, a lot of things such as citizenship and place of origin separate us, however, language brings us together, and this is why people aim at learning a second or third language. In other words, language enables us to break down barriers that have been placed by other aspects in life. Basically, the same language brings similarities to people whereas a language barrier makes people believe that they are different (Noah 2016: 32). Therefore, it is evident that during this period of the apartheid era, language was the only significant factor that had the capability of bringing people together as language is even stronger than color, and it defines exactly who a person is. With Trevor being colored, he explains that he used language to connect to other people to avoid being segregated. He would speak whatever language that was relevant at the moment in order to be accepted and not be considered as a product of a crime (Noah 2016: 35).


To conclude this, it is evident that all the three themes that have been discussed in these essay are in fact real-life experiences that are a part of our lives. Despite the fact that is post-apartheid or post-slavery times, racism is still an issue that affects the minorities in different parts of the world. However, a majority of people are seen to remove this barrier by the use of common languages. The book 'Born a Crime' by Trevor Noah, is eyeopening as it brings out issues that are still being experienced. I would recommend an analysis of the comparison of the issues in the book with the current issues. I believe this would help us find better ways to solve many of the issues by eradicating racism.

Works Cited

Noah, Trevor. Born a crime: Stories from a South African childhood. Hachette UK, 2016.

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Racism During the Apartheid Essay Example. (2022, Oct 20). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/racism-during-the-apartheid-essay-example

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