The Daily Show host Trevor Noah said in a recent interview with National Public Radio’s Linda Holmes that it was easy to transition from South Africa to the United States.
“I’ve always believed in comedy. That comedy is truth,” Noah said. “That’s why people laugh. When you tell a joke, when you say something, the visceral reaction that comes from within other people is elicited by the acknowledgement of some truth, and so if you are true to yourself, if you pursue your comedy, I find you will pursue the truth. And my truth is often in and around what is happening in the world that I live in. So with it comes race and race relations, which has been a huge part of my existence coming from South Africa and seeing that in America.”
“I’ve always said America feels like a second home to me because the racism is familiar out here, which is really wonderful,” he joked.
“Because I understand it,” Noah continued. “It is very simple. You know, when you go to places, if you got to Europe, for instance, it’s very subtle, it’s a very different game that is being played. But in America I understand it. I understand the history of black people being oppressed. I understand young people now going, ‘But how is that our fault? The sins of our fathers, how do we pay for that?'”
“I understand all of that, so I’m very comfortable operating within this current atmosphere.”
Noah told NPR it was typical that people wanted to quickly shut down conversations about racism.
“People go, ‘It’s done. It’s over.’ Because if you weren’t the person who was being oppressed or if you weren’t suffering through [that] time, when a regime ends or a law changes, in your eyes it has changed, it has ended.”
“The hardest thing to understand is the law changing or a system being broken down, that’s the beginning. You know, so when they say ‘end of slavery in America’ that is the beginning of the journey. When they say ‘black people getting equal rights’ that is the beginning of the journey. And that is hard for people, because everyone wants to go, ‘Oh, that is the end, now it is done.’ It’s not done. Now we have to start the hard work from both sides. That’s something that I understand innately, because it is easy for someone to say, ‘It is over. Why are you still talking about race?’
Noah said that the issue of racism permeated almost every issue in the United States. He said President Barack Obama was right to say that the racist behavior of police was a “product of the public.”
“People are looking at it and they go, ‘This is a police problem.’ Really, it is a societal problem. The police happen to be law enforcement from that society, and that’s what we need to be looking at.”
Listen to audio, courtesy of NPR, below: