Born a Crime

by

Trevor Noah

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A racial category under apartheid as well as a distinctive South African ethnic group descended from Dutch colonists in Cape Town and native Khoisan women (in addition to Dutch slaves from Indonesia, indentured servants from India, and other local tribal groups). Although they are the most genetically mixed population on Earth, colored people predominantly speak Afrikaans and identify with the Afrikaner culture of their patrilineal lines. Under apartheid, those deemed “colored” (who did not necessarily always line up with people from the colored ethnic group) were treated as “almost-whites” and given incentives to distance themselves from the African dimensions of their identities; in fact, people can even be “promoted” from colored to white (or black to colored) depending on how they look. Trevor looks colored, in apartheid’s system of classification based on skin color, but is not part of the distinctive colored ethnicity and only speaks broken Afrikaans, so he faces significant bullying and abuse from colored kids.

Colored Quotes in Born a Crime

The Born a Crime quotes below are all either spoken by Colored or refer to Colored. 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 1 Quotes

The genius of apartheid was convincing people who were the overwhelming majority to turn on each other. Apart hate, is what it was. You separate people into groups and make them hate one another so you can run them all.

Related Characters: Trevor Noah (speaker)
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

As a kid I understood that people were different colors, but in my head white and black and brown were like types of chocolate. Dad was the white chocolate, mom was the dark chocolate, and I was the milk chocolate. But we were all just chocolate. I didn't know any of it had anything to do with “race.” I didn't know what race was. My mother never referred to my dad as white or to me as mixed. So when the other kids in Soweto called me “white,” even though I was light brown, I just thought they had their colors mixed up, like they hadn't learned them properly. “Ah, yes, my friend. You've confused aqua with turquoise. I can see how you made that mistake. You're not the first.”

Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

Colored people had it rough. Imagine: You've been brainwashed into believing that your blood is tainted. You've spent all your time assimilating and aspiring to whiteness. Then, just as you think you're closing in on the finish line, some fucking guy named Nelson Mandela comes along and flips the country on its head. Now the finish line is back where the starting line was, and the benchmark is black. Black is in charge. Black is beautiful. Black is powerful. For centuries colored people were told: Blacks are monkeys. Don't swing from the trees like them. Learn to walk upright like the white man. Then all of a sudden it's Planet of the Apes, and the monkeys have taken over.

Related Characters: Trevor Noah (speaker)
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:
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Born a Crime PDF

Colored Term Timeline in Born a Crime

The timeline below shows where the term Colored appears in Born a Crime. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
Love and Personal Growth Theme Icon
...stop it from happening. In South Africa, mixed people are a separate racial category called “colored.” Under apartheid, whites, blacks, colored people, and Indians are all forced onto separate lands; entire... (full context)
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
...seen with his black mother. Patricia soon finds workarounds: it is legal to have two colored parents, so she brings a local colored woman out on her walks with Trevor. The... (full context)
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
...rebellion, intentionally built with only two ways to enter or exit. It’s illegal to be colored in Soweto, and there “the police were an occupying army,” outfitted with riot gear and... (full context)
Chapter 5
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Love and Personal Growth Theme Icon
Resilience Through Religion, Education, and Humor Theme Icon
...A few months before its ultimate collapse, Patricia and Trevor move to Eden Park, a colored neighborhood with real, suburban houses, surrounded by black townships. Trevor is uncomfortable having his own... (full context)
Chapter 7
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
...are both excited and do not worry about “any nonsense about cats.” In their new colored neighborhood, they figure people will not care. One night, they return home to find the... (full context)
Chapter 9
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
...with slaves the Dutch imported from around the world, creating the population later known as “colored.” Colonists completely destroyed the original Khoisan population, and colored people have largely lost track of... (full context)
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
The apartheid government makes colored people “almost-whites” in order to ensure they align with the existing system rather than siding... (full context)
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
So this makes it “weird” for Trevor, who is “colored by complexion but not by culture.” Some colored people hated his blackness (his speaking African... (full context)
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
Love and Personal Growth Theme Icon
Once, a colored girl “borrows” Trevor’s bicycle so that an older colored kid could steal it—luckily, Trevor’s cousin... (full context)
Chapter 10
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
Love and Personal Growth Theme Icon
...school. He does not have a crush about her, but she is the school’s only colored girl, and the white girls insist, so he convinces himself he likes her and follows... (full context)
Chapter 11
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
Trevor has no obvious place to go: the colored kids hate him “for being too black,” and the white kids accept him but are... (full context)
Chapter 16
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
...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 the comforts of  never having to “ask yourself... (full context)
Chapter 17
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
...realizes, “Oh, shit. This is real.” The next day, he tries to look tough—fortunately, the colored gangs are South Africa’s most violent, and he “played the stereotype,” speaking in accented Afrikaans... (full context)
Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty Theme Icon
Identity, Belonging, and Community Theme Icon
...race, and again Trevor does not know where to go—he cannot afford to have the colored gangsters find out he is just pretending, but would he infuriate them by going to... (full context)