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On Trevor Noah and Other African Immigrants Who Buy Into The Hype

Where do I even begin?

Well, for starters, it would seem that Black men have had quite the time showing their ashy asses across the country and the diaspora this past week. This particularly includes the likes of Trevor “I Am Not Funny” Noah, Lee “I Have Always Hated Black Women” Daniels, and Box Wine The Fraud ™ .

Yet, Trevor Noah’s foolishness managed to catch my attention a bit more.

Because, you see, as an American-born child of Nigerian immigrants, I have a lot to say about Trevor and his so-called “foreigner” perspective.

To explain, Trevor Noah recently sat down with the Duke of Darth Susans ™ and had a discussion where they basically agreed to disagree about minor things like…I don’t know, Black lives?

I guess this shit is debatable???

I guess this shit is debatable???

Of course, gullible and slack-jawed White Liberals went all over themselves and ate that shit up like an episode of Monday Night Raw (and I’m talking classic Raw, not that shit they have on nowadays).

But for the rest of us? For Black folx and other people of color (even reformed immigrants) who know better? We knew this was just another low-key, high-key attempt for another “brotha” to decontextualize the preferences of his phallic member (shoutout to my friend Haley for that one) through “civil discussion”.

This is especially the case if we are speaking about Cheap Champagne™ and his not so subtle attempt to gaslight Black femme creators, artists, activists, and such like the fame whore he is.

YOU AIN'T SLICK, CHEAP CHAMPAGNE

YOU AIN’T SLICK, CHEAP CHAMPAGNE

Of course, this is only one side of the Rubix cube of fuckery that is White supremacy, misogynoir, and anti-Blackness. While many of us have been rightfully sticking it to South Africa’s Favorite Fuckboi™ via that Darth Susan Fetishist angle, we’re overlooking Trevor’s favorite diversion tactic:

The “Outsider” Immigrant Card™. (also recognized as The “Likable Foreigner” card to certain stores and brands).

Now, of course, a handful of folx have already pointed this out. Tomi Obaro in particular expertly pointed this out in her “Trevor Noah Still Doesn’t Get It” piece. But, there’s always more to add to the conversation. And while there are a million things I can add, I’ll start with this:

Trevor Noah extending a hand of “love” and cupcakes to The Darth Susan Coalition™ isn’t surprising in the least.

And this is especially the case if you know anything about African immigrants.

Of course, I realize that is quite the broad brush to stroke on an entire group of people. But as a child of West African parents who raises me with some deeply rooted anti-Blackness (that I’m still trying to unlearn), I’m not here to mince words.

But before I even get into all that, let’s explain the enigma that is African immigrants.

African Immigrants (particularly East and West African immigrants) occupy a weird space in America. We are foreign first and foremost and not even the “right” type of foreign either. Our thick accents and extremely proper—or maybe even broken—English doesn’t get the same “oohs” and “ahs” that a Russian Chet™, a Slovakian Chad™, or a Slovenian Melania™ would get.

We are othered, hard, and experience the brunt of America’s xenophobic ugliness.

Of course, there is a bright side. Or rather, America would like us to think there is a bright side since she is a messy bitch who lives for drama (and not the good kind). Her goal is to make us forget what she really thinks of us “dirty” Africans.

So, whilst reducing our continent to a performance stage for the megalomaniacal World Vision, putting our butt ass
naked children on display (complete with flies buzzing around their distended bellies and overgrown heads on sickly bodies), and making people believe that the only thing Africa ever existed for was to be the setting for The Lion King, America seeks to soothe our wounded egos and feelings of pride (Let’s not pretend continental Africans aren’t prideful as fuck). Blow on them. Maybe even slap a cute little Hello Kitty band-aid on them.

And this is done by all the compliments of us being smart. In fact, Whiteness will occasionally find time to fact check itself and pull up statistics on how many of us have degrees or own businesses or own property. We are called hardworking. We’re doctors. Lawyers. Engineers. Entrepreneurs.

Real bootstrappers, so to speak.

And this is all so we can be given false hopes that we are or can be one of them.

In fact, White supremacy will argue that we are nothing like The Blacks™ (Example: “Temi, you’re like Black, but you’re not THAT kind of Black”). That if we, too, work hard we will never be treated anything like them.

Of course, that is a blatant lie and is deeply rooted in anti-Blackness.

But, it is also what makes Trevor’s shtick so appealing to White liberals and American spectators.

Sure, Noah has an accent, but it’s not so thick that they can’t understand him. He’s extremely well-spoken. Some might even call him attractive…unlike your typical Babatunde and his Malta-approved potbelly. And being a light-skinned South African certainly does not hurt either.

And then there is, of course, the fact that he is from the right parts of Africa. The parts that White liberals love romancing because of Mandela and the “cosmopolitan” city that is Johannesburg. It is certainly more appealing to Susan and her wildest dreams to be from that part of African than the “icky” Western and Eastern parts. The sub-Saharan parts.

Granted, Noah is still an other, of course, but he’s a more desirable (if not fetishized) other. One that might fit in with Slovakian Chad™ and Russian Chet™.

But whether he realizes this or not (and I’m going to go with the opposite of not), he does use this to his utmost advantage.

You see, Noah is very much an outsider in that his status as a mixed race South African in America does give him legitimate experiences to bring to the table. And as an outsider to America and The Blacks™, Noah seems to believe that this status makes him superior to The Blacks™. And if not outright, then marginally so.

Think about some of his past stand-up acts. Think about all the times he made his punchline about The Blacks™. Think about how much of a lecturing tone he takes up when he discusses things that people would call “Black issues”…like protesting.

And of course, his “outsider” status puts him in an opportune place to be devoid of accountability when the time comes.

Case in point, after Noah decided to be a real anti-pal and send Empress PapalSusan™ some cupcakes, he managed to duck a lot of the heat (like he has in the past) by simply chalking up the backlash and disconnect to his foreigner status and not being hip on how America operates.

Imagine possessing that kind of privilege.

I mean, I can’t even blame the guy really. Why wouldn’t you want to hold some marginal privilege as compared to others? I mean, I can relate.

“Whaaaaaaaat?” You say.” But Lex! How can you possibly relate to a fuckboi of the Continental African variety? How is that even possible?”

Easy.

I used to be like Trevor.

Okay, don’t look at me like that.

Not so long ago, I worshiped The Book of Respectability Politics™. In fact, I was a huge proponent of it.

I bought into the hype.

I’d make the snide comments about pulling your “pulling your pants up” or shake my head and mutter “Black people” when I saw a group of Black folx acting “rachet”. I might even throw in “Akatas” if I had felt particularly annoyed with my Black American schoolmates that day.

I was also that person who was proud that I had a “definitive” claim to the Motherland…giving me a slight edge and some authenticity over my diasporic counterparts and elevating my slight sense of superiority.

This rhetoric was worse if you listened to my parents. They took on Noah’s lecture-y tone whenever they discussed The Blacks™. They always wondered out loud why they were so lazy, and unmotivated, and hateful. And this rhetoric increased two-fold whenever they overheard Black folx talking about race.

Me? I used to dodge those hard discussions on race (not unlike Trevor), thinking that Black American folx just loved stirring the pot instead of realizing that they were warning us that Whiteness was gonna sell us down the river when the rent was due.

And sure enough, I got that hard lesson when a Chet decided to try it during my time at PWI, by saying that I had got in on affirmative action.

Huh.

Imagine going from White folx licking ya bootyhole and gassing you up about your smarts and ability to assimilate and practice self-hate to being swiftly lumped in with The Blacks™ over there when Chet and Susan think you’re getting too big for your African Booty Scratching Britches™.

My friend, see your life.

My friend, see your life.

That particular incident, and similar incidents experienced by my continental African friends, was disorienting for sure, but it did prove one big thing:

African immigrants, whether we like it or not, are Black.

This means that specifying that we are not Black, that we are instead [insert your chosen African country here (like you can’t be both???] does nothing to protect us from Whiteness. Our “Africanness” is ultimately not enough to shield us from the injustices that White supremacy would like to carry out against us. Attempting to opt out of Blackness for that marginally special “foreigner”/ “outsider” status doesn’t work.

That’s right.

Your fate is in fact tied to those pesky Blacks™ you hate so much.

I mean, for all my father’s ranting about The Blacks, that didn’t stop ol’ dude from getting harassed by trigger-happy cops or having his car spray-painted on by White supremacists. For all my early attempts to dodge talking about race, that didn’t stop me from having to confront it head on when a Chet embarrassed me and forced my hand.

And for all of Trevor’s smug, contrarian attempts to play The Good African™, The Jovial African™, and The Token African™, whilst defending himself with his so-called “outsider” perspective like he is the only immigrant who has ever come to America and made it big, that’s not gonna stop him from getting mollywhopped by White supremacy when he eventually fucks up big time with White Liberals and loses their favor.

In essence, Trevor and (all other African immigrants like him) can keep faking like he doesn’t know what’s up, but one day, he’s gonna experience his “Black moment” just like every other Black person in the diaspora ever. And when that day comes, White supremacy isn’t gonna give him a cupcake or hold his hand through it.

White supremacy is gonna to tell him to get the fuck over it. And probably add a “nigger” or two in that for good measure.

You know. Just so he, the ultra special and ultra foreign African immigrant, knows his “place”.

 

Images From: Tumblr, Giphy, The Goliath, Washington Times, Imgur
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7 thoughts on “On Trevor Noah and Other African Immigrants Who Buy Into The Hype

  1. I wasn’t ever into Trevor like that, having met more than a few Africans, who looked on me with disdain, because I was American born. I was taking a wait and see attitude, and giving him the occasional side-eye.

    Sooner or later the Trevors of the US are gonna end up having what my Mamma called “A N*gg* Moment”, when they get shown, unapologetically, that they are, in fact, a Black person.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. WARNING: THIS TURNED INTO A 12-PART NOVELLA. ASK LKEKE, SHE KNOWS THE STRUGGLE ;D

    Hi there. I’m not sure how to get my thoughts together on this one and not even sure I should comment because I’m not in the US but in Canada but I thought this was a very interesting topic. I’m not a child of West African parents. I am, West African born and raised and immensely proud of who I am and where I come from.

    I see what you mean when it comes to the superiority complex many Africans have towards African Americans. I see it as a lack of knowledge of the African American history and the specific types of oppression African Americans endured and continue to endure as a minority in a stolen White country (this country belongs to Native Americans) and the resulting struggle of having to share an uncomfortable space with violent and relentlessly hateful oppressors, hell bent on their destruction, in a system engineered in every way to help them fail. The only system that comes close in Africa is incidentally, apartheid in South Africa and even then, it has many, many differences.

    This is in no way a case of oppression Olympics for me. I realize that while the struggles have many commonalities, they are also different and therefore, have different effects on the populations which are subjected to them. Us West African (I’ll speak for my own and let the others chime in if they so choose) had to deal with colonization, another brutal White supremacy system that still has its hooks into us today as France in the case of countries I come from and am very familiar with still influences the political and economical landscape and growth of our countries by maintaining dictators in place and helping them crush opposing parties in exchange for control of our lands and natural resources.

    We are not immune to the effects of White supremacy. Not by a long shot, and I believe we are pretty rare in the sense that at least 2 of our presidents in the West African region had white wives who served as first ladies (which is why I get doubly annoyed when Klandom toys with the idea of a white chick as first lady of Wakanda lol).

    What we do know, is that WE ARE BLACK. We also don’t even call African Americans, African Americans. We call them BLACK Americans. It’s not so much about where they come from for us but their race and the color of their skin. We know WE are Black and we know THEY are Black (well some of them, more on that later).

    From my personal experience, we see Blackness differently than SOME African Americans. It’s race, pure and simple. It’s not linked to identity, identification, or the practice of a certain culture, just race, the race of your parents more precisely. We don’t define ourselves by Blackness first. It’s not the important factor when EVERYONE around you is also Black (like France and Suede, between them, the locals are not White, just French and Swedish). Foreigners are minorities in our countries.

    We define ourselves as 1) as ethnic groups within our countries 2) nationalities within our continents. Our nationality is automatically attached to a race: Black. That’s how it works in countries not defined by immigration, slavery and race mixing by way of rape. I exclude Mauritanians from this as they are something of an exception in the region. We do not recognize biracials as Black. They are “métisses” (not exactly mulatto which is mulâtre and has a bad connotation, métisse is simply a racial classification that means one parent White, one parent Black). The métisses were a class of their own during colonization and are still seen as different by virtue of having a non-Black parent. If one of your parents is Italian for example, you’re Italo-Togolese, not Togolese.

    It’s not that biracials are rejected, colorism actually affords privilege to some of them, in some of the places. We simply define ourselves strongly by family and do not recognize White men and women as capable of siring Black children, point, blank and the period, which is why my head spins exorcist-style when people call the likes of Zendaya Black or when people say somehow Halle is swirling with Olivier but she was “home” Wesley. For me, there is no difference. Both ARE half her men, White AND Black because she’s both. I understand that identity works differently for those who live by the one-drop-rule.

    So basically what I’m saying is when we go to North America, it’s not with the idea that we aren’t Black. We know we are. It’s just that it’s been second to our ethnic group and nationality all our lives. A lot of us, the ignorant ones in my opinion, look down on African Americans, which is something they should be called out for and the best rebuttal to that should be, “if you have it together, why are your countries SUCH a mess?”. That ought to shut some of us up lol.

    We come in with a different history, mentality, different burdens that in my humble opinion, make it easier for SOME of us in North America, and those who don’t realize it use that privilege as a weapon against the Black people who ARE Americans. In my personal situation, I’ve been told over and over that I don’t have a thick accent. I’ve been compared to Gabrielle Union or a news anchor, by native English speakers and when I’ve spoken French to French people on the phone, they always took 5 minutes to express their shock that I wasn’t white when we met. Just to give an idea that no matter the language, I’ve been told people don’t necessarily detect where I’m from.

    It’s a different kind of “privilege” (the use of the word doesn’t come from pride, just the understanding that in a racist world, anything that makes a racist consider you a little less Black in his mind will get you chosen before other people who are considered having a little too much and too much applies to melanin level, hair curl patterns, features and accents; I’ve seen people with thicker accents passed over for jobs because of the way they sound) that has served me in the corporate world and also had some people drop their guards to get real racist 1) about African accents 2) and about how in their opinion African people are so much better, pleasant, hardworking that Haitians (when I’m in Canada), or Black Americans (when I’m in the US).

    How I respond is a different comment altogether but what I’m saying I’m very aware of the divide-and-conquer politics and for prideless Africans who crave White approval because they equate it to success, and already think they’re better than these other “confused Blacks” (not my words but an adjective I’ve heard used often) it’s another ‘incentive’ (what can I say, self-hate is a hell of drug) to distance themselves from North American Black realities and struggles.

    Now on the subject of Trevor Noah, I don’t know much about him except that I heard he was biracial, which by definition makes him half-white in my eyes, which means my expectations of him are different, which means, I see him as half of theirs, half of mine but never all mine, which means, I am never surprised when a “métisse” shows the white part of his ass. I grew up with the belief that you never deny your parents and that your blood makes you who you are.

    I also heard that Trevor’s back-and-forth with the one that shan’t be named basically ended with him practically courting a racist white woman. It’s news to me that he comes from South Africa. I never heard him speak, and never took an interest in him because he always came across as a deeply try-hard and annoying individual, and that’s based on his quotes and mannerism in gifs alone. Glad to see I had the right idea about him lol.

    Sorry about the ramblings. Great post. The West African know-it-all had to come and overshare ;DDDDD

    Liked by 1 person

    • This was a very, very interesting read.

      I am thankful for your thoughts on how native West Africans relate/don’t relate Blackness with identity, politics, etc.

      Definitely a different beast here in the US, especially concerning biracial Black folx.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for writing this, and being so transparent while discussing this issue. I’ve been thinking along similar lines ever since I watched his stand-up special (it bothered me hugely that he felt he was allowed to use American blacks as his punchlines when that’s not his history to claim, much less make fun of for mainstream approval). You pretty much nailed every issue I have with dude and that whole viewpoint, as well as how pointless such a viewpoint is. This was awesome, basically, and I want to send it to anyone who’s still fawning over this dude and the ‘progress’ his role at The Daily Show supposedly represents.

    Like

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