When Those That Didn’t Know: Weren’t Told Any Better

Jose Rodriguez
4 min readMay 24

Warning: The anecdote from Trevor Noah’s book mentioned the historical Hitler and to The Holocaust.

Go Hitler…
Recently, my wife told me about Trevor Noah’s book, Born A Crime: Stories From A South African Childhood. In the book, he related a story that I thought was an example of how multiple people may “fail” to successfully hear each other and engaging in productive, educational, empowering discourse.

Courtesy of Craiyon

Merriam-Webster provided this definition for discourse,

“verbal interchange of ideas.”

Here is an overview of the situation described in chapter 15, “Go Hitler”:

  • Trevor Noah went from pirating music to becoming a DJ (after learning how to fade tracks into medleys).
  • Then, he created a B-boy dance group and would be their DJ.
  • Trevor had a friend named Hitler (this was the friend’s name). This was partly due to “black” South Africans having a “European” name that could be easier to write and pronounce, in addition to their traditional name. Due to nearly non-existent education, many “black” South Africans had no substantial idea who the historical Hitler was, since they were taught the scantest of correct historical fact.
  • Quickly after forming, Trevor’s group was getting booked in the “white” suburbs.
  • The mother of a kid Trevor knew booked him and his group for a culturally diverse program that included flamenco dancers, Greek dancers and traditional Zulu musicians.
  • The group booking Trevor and his group was Jewish.
  • Enraged, one of the teachers confronted Trevor.
  • Trevor (incorrectly) guessed the cause/source of the teacher’s outrage and responded, “Lady… I think you need to calm down.”
  • He misinterpreted her outrage as a “racist” attempt to order him around.
  • Later, the teacher told him, “I’ll have you know that my people stopped people like you before, and we can stop you again.
  • Many years later, Trevor would presumably know that she was talking about stopping the (real) Nazis. At that time, I’m assuming that he thought that she was threatening him.
Jose Rodriguez

Content Creator. Everyday is a blessing, so we need to make the best of each one. To improve things, we should start with ourselves. www.thejoserodriguez.com