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.
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.
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?”
I used to be like Trevor.
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.
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™.
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.
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