Born a Crime

by

Trevor Noah

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Alexandra (Alex) Term Analysis

A cramped, poor, black township in Johannesburg. Because it is surrounded by wealthier white areas, it cannot expand, unlike Soweto. After high school, Trevor spends a year hanging out with Sizwe in Alexandra, selling pirated CDs.

Alexandra (Alex) Quotes in Born a Crime

The Born a Crime quotes below are all either spoken by Alexandra (Alex) or refer to Alexandra (Alex). For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Random House edition of Born a Crime published in 2016.
Chapter 3 Quotes

There is something magical about Soweto. Yes, it was a prison designed by our oppressors, but it also gave us a sense of self-determination and control. Soweto was ours. It had an aspirational quality that you don't find elsewhere. In America the dream is to make it out of the ghetto. In Soweto, because there was no leaving the ghetto, the dream was to transform the ghetto.

For the million people who lived in Soweto, there were no stores, no bars, no restaurants. There were no paved roads, minimal electricity, inadequate sewerage. But when you put one million people together in one place, they find a way to make a life for themselves. A black-market economy rose up, with every type of business being run out of someone's house: auto mechanics, day cafe, guys selling refurbished tires.

Related Characters: Trevor Noah (speaker), Trevor’s Grandmother / Frances Noah
Related Symbols: The Secondhand Volkswagen
Page Number: 40-41
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

It's easy to be judgmental about crime when you live in a world wealthy enough to be removed from it. But the hood taught me that everyone has different notions of right and wrong, different definitions of what constitutes crime, and what level of crime they're willing to participate in.

Related Characters: Trevor Noah (speaker), Sizwe
Page Number: 212-213
Explanation and Analysis:

In society, we do horrible things to one another because we don't see the person it affects. We don't see their face. We don't see them as people. Which was the whole reason the hood was built in the first place, to keep the victims of apartheid out of sight and out of mind. Because if white people ever saw black people as human, they would see that slavery is unconscionable. We live in a world where we don’t see the ramifications of what we do to others, because we don't live with them. It would be a whole lot harder for an investment banker to rip off people with subprime mortgages if he actually had to live with the people he was ripping off. If we could see one another's pain and empathize with one another, it would never be worth it to us to commit the crimes in the first place.

Related Characters: Trevor Noah (speaker)
Page Number: 221-222
Explanation and Analysis:
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Alexandra (Alex) Term Timeline in Born a Crime

The timeline below shows where the term Alexandra (Alex) appears in Born a Crime. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 15
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
...recommends that Trevor start DJing. Sizwe lives in the dense, dangerous, and hard-partying shantytown of Alexandra; in Alex, unless “someone gets shot or a bottle gets broken on someone’s face […]... (full context)
Chapter 16
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
In his brief preface, Noah outlines the history of Alexandra, which was originally a white man’s farm. But this farmer sold his land to blacks... (full context)
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
...who brought out the best in everybody,” which makes him immensely popular. He lives in Alexandra, but Trevor seldom goes there until after high school, when suddenly being from “the hood”... (full context)
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
Alexandra itself is “a hive of constant human activity,” with a chaotic energy that “erupts periodically... (full context)
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
Love and Personal Growth Theme Icon
...needs to make money to afford university tuition, so he decides to sell CDs in Alexandra, where minibus drivers buy their music (which they value as a way to attract customers)... (full context)
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
In Alexandra “there is a very fine line between civilian and criminal”; friends become gangsters and gangsters... (full context)
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Every day, Trevor takes the bus into Alex with Sizwe and sets up shop at his house. They eat breakfast and take orders... (full context)
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
...effort put into minimal gain,” like wasting time on the internet instead of reading books. Alexandra’s real draws are the acceptance—there are few colored people there, but “the hood doesn’t judge”—and... (full context)
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Trevor is DJing a party in a nice black suburb near Alexandra; the police come in on a noise complaint, brandishing machine guns and ordering Trevor to... (full context)
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
...knows whose it is; a cop hits them all and calls them “trash,” “dogs from Alex […] bunch of fucking hoodlums.” He insists that they are going to jail, and they... (full context)
Chapter 17
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Love and Personal Growth Theme Icon
Resilience Through Religion, Education, and Humor Theme Icon
...parents, she tries “to discipline [him] before the system does.” Getting arrested is commonplace in Alex, and Patricia hates that Trevor hangs out there, especially because “it didn’t pressure [him] to... (full context)