Attributed to Comedy Central
By Adam Mahoney, staff writer
“The Daily Show” host and comedian Trevor Noah will be coming to Northwestern this Sunday, October 15 for a talk about “identity, ethnicity, acceptance and the turbulent state of race in Trump’s America,” according to an email sent to Medill students.
The event will be hosted by New York Times reporter and Medill alum John Eligon. The event will be streamed across the country at several different universities and for the general public.
“The purpose of the series is to engage the next generation of students in discussing important and touchy matters.” NYTLive Conference Manager Ryan Kerr said. “This series helps include this generation in discussing touchy topics and it allows them to know the New York Times is listening to them.”
Outside of his role on “The Daily Show”, Trevor has gained national attention for his book Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, which highlights his life growing up as a mixed person in apartheid South Africa, where it was a crime to be born a mixed-race baby.
“I think he’s going to be talking about his views as a South African, but also as a Black man. It will be interesting to see how he navigates those waters in today’s climate,” Northwestern student Abriel Siregar said. Siregar also relates to Trevor Noah’s journey as Siregar is an international student who has voiced fears that resonate with Noah’s book. “Personally for me, since I am an international student, one of our biggest fears is being able to integrate… whether we are able to get jobs in America,” Siregar said. In America there is discussion towards race and identity as a white and Black issue, however, the topic of race today is complicated and gray. Noah’s view on identity, racial or otherwise, is something that needs to be heard in today’s world and Northwestern’s unique campus can be a good start.
Although Northwestern is a comparatively progressive campus in this country and is attempting to create a more “diverse and more inclusive” community, many students here still don’t have a satisfactory understanding of race and identity. This is why having this discussion on campus is extremely relevant.
“This school likes to pretend we are one happy connected interracial family, when in reality, no matter how many times you ask someone what their pronouns are we are still only going to have 10% of the freshman class and [ 5% of the total undergraduate population] being Black,” Northwestern freshman Jamaica Ponder said. “We have some serious racial and socioeconomic divides on this campus and the fact of the matter is if bringing a celebrity on this campus makes it easier to talk about the pertinent and relevant issues plaguing our campus, then I’m all for it.” Jamaica will be working the event with the New York Times and will have the opportunity to continue this discussion with Trevor Noah after the event.
Trevor Noah’s comedic background may sway some from his validity as a social and political commentator, but his role on “The Daily Show” has made his right to hold opinions on both political and social issues fully known and exercised. When asked about what to expect from Trevor Noah, Ponder said, “Trevor Noah is a phenomenal performer, political commentator, activist, and person. He is smart, eloquent, articulate, and I think he’s on the right side of all issues.” Even if you don’t feel the same way when relating to Noah’s stances on certain political and social issues, this discussion may still be meaningful event that could change your view in racial identity and politics in America.
“Overall in America, the discussion about race and identity is really important especially because of the big divide today. If you don’t have these conversations, especially with people who don’t come from diversity, they’re going to miss out… This is a very crucial time for college students,” New York Times race-correspondent John Eligon said. “The journalistic side of me questions if we going to change any minds [with this discussion] in a transformative way, but I hope this conversation reaches folks and helps them find a voice in their own experiences.”
This is an important time for not only Northwestern’s campus, but for the entire country to try to understand the significance in understanding our own specific identities in relation to race. The first step to creating inclusivity is being able to accept one’s own identity. Everyone will take something different out of this discussion, but it is highly important that everyone who is attending the discussion truly attempts to not only understand Noah’s experiences but incorporate the ways in which Noah will say America should start viewing race and racial identity into their own lives.