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Born a Crime Video Summary

Trevor Noah's born a crime is a memoir

about growing up in South Africa at the

end of apartheid born of a black mother

and white father in a time when

interracial sex was illegal

the young Trevor was literally born a

crime Noah begins his book with this

historical context explaining how

apartheid relied on creating artificial

divisions between groups of people so

that the white colonial elite could

maintain their power at the start of the

memoir Noah tells a funny anecdote from

his boyhood his mother Patricia Noah was

a deeply religious woman and took her

son's to three different church services

on Sundays one black one white and one

mixed one Sunday with their car broken

down they caught a minibus to get home

but the driver threatened and insulted

them afraid for their safety

Patricia opened the door pushed Trevor

out and then left after him with his

baby brother all while the minibus was

still moving they ran to a nearby gas

station and phoned the police we soon

learned that Noah's mother was born into

a black South African family that

belonged to the cosa tribe she was

determined and independent and as a

young woman moved to Johannesburg on her

own there she met Robert a swiss german

expat and the man who would be Trevor's

father patricia and robert had to hide

their relationship Patricia would dress

up as a maid when she visited Robert so

that no one would suspect them Trevor

was born a light-skinned mixed-race

child he spent much of his early years

isolated and hidden in order to protect

his parents from arrest when he and his

mother went out in Jubair Park in

Johannesburg a caretaker would walk with

Trevor

while Patricia trailed behind them

Patricia and Robert remained friends and

Trevor visited his father every week

trevor also spent much time in his

grandmother's house in the black

neighborhood of Soweto where he grew up

mostly among women although he was happy

he played alongside the sounds of

gunshots screams and tear gas firing

into crowds trevor was a rambunctious

child and his mother often disciplines

him strictly but they also had a very

loving relationship

Patricia encouraged Trevor to be a

curious and independent thinker who

reflected critically asked lots of

questions and thought for himself she

enrolled him in a private Catholic

school where Trevor often got in trouble

for challenging rules and questioning

Authority when Trevor was around six his

mother started dating a charismatic

mechanic named Abel who lived above the

garage of a white family Patricia and

Trevor sometimes stayed with him one day

when Trevor was seven he and another

little boy were playing together with a

magnifying glass and matches burning

words in two pieces of wood

suddenly they set a mattress on fire

soon enough the fire spread and consumed

the entire house the young Trevor was

not punished but the white family kicked

Abel out he moved in with Trevor and his

mother eventually Patricia and Abel

decided to marry Trevor didn't trust his

new stepfather and the birth of his

half-brother Andrew

further complicated the family dynamics

meanwhile Trevor felt profoundly

isolated and was often the target of

bullying one day a group of older boys

through mulberries at him when Trevor

told Abel he realized he could

manipulate Abel's anger to get revenge

sure enough Abel caught one of the boys

and whipped him with a tree branch

watching the violence Trevor experienced

first pleasure and then horror Trevor

was kicked out of Catholic school

and transferred to a public school at

the end of the 6th grade well he felt

most comfortable with the black students

he didn't fit in well with any specific

group his mother's family and other

residents of Soweto

treated him differently as well because

of his light-skinned and perfect English

living in the primarily colored

neighborhood of Eden Park he was

considered either too black or too white

Trevor honed his language skills and

could code-switch easily

learning to move fluidly between

communities meanwhile Abel had

experienced serious economic troubles

after trying to start his own car repair

shop Patricia provided money to help him

but Abel's problems with alcohol made

him irresponsible and the business

failed Abel began to physically abuse

Patricia Trevor and their pets to cut

their losses Abel sold the shop and they

moved to a primarily white neighborhood

called Highlands North Patricia

legally divorced Abel but continued to

live with him supporting the family with

her income while he drank more and more

heavily as Trevor grew older he started

his own business ventures eventually

selling pirated and mix CDs when he

finished high school he expanded his

business and began DJing parties he

spent more time in Alexandra an

impoverished neighborhood dominated by

petty crime tensions between Trevor and

Abel led Trevor to move into his own

apartment the relationship between

Patricia and Abel deteriorated and

Trevor was devastated when he found out

Patricia was pregnant again he spent

less time with his mother and younger

brothers after this meanwhile his DJing

career took off

the climax of the memoir occurs when

Trevor as a young man received a call

from his brother Andrew Abel had shot

Trevor's mother first he

shot her in the leg and then the gun

misfired several times and finally he

shot her in the head at the hospital

doctors were hesitant to treat Patricia

because she didn't have health insurance

but Trevor promised to pay her bills

miraculously her injuries turned out to

be minor no one could explain why the

gun misfired but Patricia believed that

God intervened on her behalf

Abel received only probation never

serving any jail time Trevor Noah ends

his memoir reflecting on the deep love

and unshakable bond he shares with his

mother

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