“What’s going on?” my mom said.

“Oh, Nombuyiselo,” she said. “Trevor is so naughty. He’s the naughtiest child I’ve ever come across in my life.”

“Then you should hit him.”

“I can’t hit him.”

“Why not?”

“Because I don’t know how to hit a white child,” she said. “A black child, I understand. A black child, you hit them and they stay black. Trevor, when you hit him he turns blue and green and yellow and red. I’ve never seen those colours before. I’m scared I’m going to break him. I don’t want to kill a white person. I’m so afraid, I’m not going to touch him.” And she never did.

My grandmother treated me like I was white. My grandfather did too, too, only he was even more extreme. He called me “Mastah”. In the car, he insisted on driving me as if he were my chauffeur. “Mastah must always sit in the backseat .” I never challenged him on it. What was I going to say? “I believe your perception of race is flawed, Grandfather.” No. I was five. I sat in the back.

Trevor Noah, “Born A Crime”.


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