Thursday night on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart welcomed Trevor Noah, a new correspondent hailing from South Africa, who illustrated something sad and wrong about our country in a very poignant way.
“I just flew in from South Africa and boy are my arms tired!”
Groan. Not that old joke again!
Instead Noah turned the old cliche around, saying:
No, I’ve been holding my hands [up] since I got here. I never thought I’d be more afraid of police here than South Africa. It makes me a little nostalgic for the old ways back home.
The new correspondent then delivered a brilliant joke about Ebola in America. Saying his friends warned him not to go to America because he might catch Ebola, to which Noah said:
You can’t cut off travel to America because of a few cases of Ebola, that would be ignorant.
Noah then asked Stewart to play a game called ‘Spot the Africa’ in which Stewart was supposed to correctly identify which photo was taken in Africa when shown two pictures side by side, one from Africa, one from America.
What the photos illustrated to the audience was that the condition of America is no better than South Africa in some ways. For a nation raised pitying Africa, it was a hard pill to swallow. Noah also noted that most Americans think of Africa as one giant continent of “Aids, huts, and starving children, who you can save for just five cents a day.”
Here are some of the comparisons made:
The Daily Show then rolls a clip with a political commentator stating:
The United States right now incarcerates more African-Americans as a percentage than apartheid South Africa did. The race gap of wealth in the United States between the average median white family and the median black family is 18 full. That’s greater than the wealth gap in apartheid South Africa.
Trevor Noah just explained America’s race problem in a few short jokes.
Here’s a study which illustrates what Noah is saying (click on image to enlarge):
Imprisonment of the black community has been one of the biggest civil rights hindrances. But it’s not only the imprisonment of African-Americans which keeps the white race in an elevated status. Wealth inequality and employment rates between the white and black races have also been a hindrance to African-American advancement.
Our wealth gap is also worse than the wealth gap between black and white South Africans during apartheid.
It’s a problem that’s hard to achieve the solution to when people in power tell white America that the other races just aren’t trying hard enough, or that race inequality is just an imagined obstacle created by victims.
Racism is real. More importantly, institutional racism is the larger problem. Institutional racism is what allows senators like Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) to say that white men would fare well if he were president and get away with it. Institutional racism lets Fox News skate by when Bill O’Reilly insists that white privilege is an imaginary thing. The numbers don’t lie, and when you have South Africans lecturing America on racial equality, telling Americans to get it together, maybe, just maybe, it’s time to listen.
Noah then closes his segment, saying:
You know what African mothers tell their children everyday? Be grateful for what you have, because there are fat children starving in Mississippi.
Here’s the segment worth watching: