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