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Trevor Noah Speech: The Power of Information

Learn English with Trevor Noah. Comedian Trevor Noah shares his thoughts about the power of information for the millennial generation. Trevor Noah is a South African comedian, writer, producer, political commentator, actor, and television host. He is the host of The Daily Show, an American satirical news program on Comedy Central. Enjoy our Speeches with subtitles, and keep your English learning journey.

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Trevor Noah Quote:

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“Language, even more than color, defines who you are to people.” Trevor Noah


“Good morning/afternoon everybody. Good to have you. This is weird ’cause I’m just gonna talk to your phones and we’re right here. It’s a strange experience. Welcome to the millennial age. You’ll have the picture and you’ll show it to your friend and they’ll go what does he look like in person? You go, I don’t know, I was also looking at my phone when I should have been there with him.

First of all, thank you very much, Bill and Melinda for having me. When I was first asked to be here they said hey, we want you to come and speak at this event, Goalkeepers, and talk about what’s happening in the world and I looked through all of the people speaking and I said but I have nothing. I do not have a fridge that can change lives, I do not have a plan to eradicate HIV in South Africa and in southern Africa and the rest of the continent and I most definitely cannot ride a motorbike so I don’t know what I can do for you.

Bill just said come and share your thoughts, your stories, your ideas and I guess that’s how I process information. That’s how I process my world, so, I’ll tell you a little bit about myself and why Goalkeepers means so much to me. So, in case you don’t know me, my name is Trevor Noah, I grew up in South Africa during a time known as apartheid and for those who don’t know, apartheid was a system of laws which made it illegal for black people and white people to integrate with each other amongst other things. Black people lived in separate areas to white people, they had different rules, they were segregated and this was particularly tough for me because I grew up in a mixed family, well, with me being the mixed one in the family.

My mother’s a black woman, a Xhosa woman from South Africa and in case you’re wondering, Xhosa is one of the languages with the clicks in it, Xhosa. Xhosa but not like in American movies. I’ve seen those movies where they have the Africans and they’re like. That’s not a language, alright? No, even we watch those movies and we’re like I wonder what they are saying. It’s not a language but my mother’s a Xhosa woman, South African, my father’s Swiss from Switzerland and was a white man and still is a white man, he didn’t change and so they got together during this time which was against the law and they had me and it wasn’t easy growing up in this family and that’s really where our journey began because we were a family that couldn’t be together, we were a family that was for all intents and purposes a crime that existed, me being the born from my mother because of my father was me being born a crime and one of the biggest things I connected with when reading about Goalkeepers and learning about the organization was the optimism, was the ability to see what no one could see at a time when no one should almost have the right to see it and my mother was one of those people.

My mother’s a beautiful, powerful woman who endured a lot during her life. We lived through apartheid in South Africa, we lived through her going on to marry a man who was extremely abusive, an alcoholic and throughout all of that the one thing that I always admired in my mom was that she had the ability to appreciate the reality of the world she was in but also optimistically pursue the future that she wished to exist in and that’s for me what Goalkeepers is all about, optimism.

People always ask, they go is the world going to be in a better place? Is the world getting better or is it getting worse. Now, depending on who you ask there will always be a different answer. I’ve come to find one of the reasons I believe the world is getting better is because we have access to information on how bad the world actually is which I know is a strange thing to say but that’s honestly what I believe. As a young person and as someone who makes a show for young people, one of the most powerful tools I’ve realized is information. We come from an age where there was misinformation, disinformation and there is some of it today but now more than ever young people communicate across borders, across continents, you see people in England and in America and South Africa tweeting, talking to people in Myanmar.

You see people speaking out about what they see happening in Sudan, you see people commiserating and sharing with victims of hurricanes across the Caribbean or across Texas and whenever I look at that I go it’s one of the most powerful tools that if harnessed correctly can lead to a completely new way that we communicate and that we change the world. And young people are driven. That’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve realized is that we live in a new age. Millennials oftentimes are marked as they’re lazy, they believe that they’re entitled and they cry about small things which is true but they’re also driven, they also wish to make a change, they also believe that they can make a change.

I believe that information and these tools that we possess today have helped increase that. More than ever we see that in America. As the host of The Daily Show I’m obviously in a world where we comment on news and politics and one thing I’ve noticed with my audience is not only are young people growing into the world of politics but they’re engaged, engaged in a way that people were never engaged before, engaged in a way where they understand that they can actually change the course of history as opposed to just being a part of it. It’s a beautiful experience to see that’s taking place across continents. In my home country South Africa we see the same thing, young people standing up and saying we don’t accept the status quo, we can change our destiny, we can change the future, we can be a part of this world and essentially that’s what’s happening in America right now, you feel it.

People always come up to me and they go, Trevor, as the host of The Daily Show how do you feel about Donald Trump? I say well, I don’t know how to feel about him that’s the honest truth. He’s a paradox for me emotionally. One part of me is terrified at the notion that he is president of the most powerful nation of the world, the other side of me knows that every day he’s going to make me laugh. I cannot deny this. The best way I can put it is it’s almost like there’s a giant astroid headed towards the Earth but it’s shaped like penis. I think I’m gonna die but I know I’m gonna laugh.

And this is a tough place to be in because you have to process the very real situation that you are in and that is a dangerous one but at the same time you can acknowledge that when you laugh, you’re not controlled by fear and that’s something that I’ve always lived with in my life, in my family. My mother always said to me, she said when we are laughing, we are not afraid. When we are laughing we are experiencing our truer selves. It doesn’t mean what I happening to us is not real but it means that we can process the very real world that is happening to us and in many ways I try and look at the positives.

People go, is the world getting better? I go I believe it’s always getting better but in many ways the world is like the body. You cannot see the change when you look at it every single day but if you take snapshots you can see how things are getting better. you can also see how some things are getting worse, climate change is one of those and that’s where young people are stepping up and saying hey, hurricanes are a good example, the intensity of these once-in-a-lifetime events has increased, maybe it’s time to do something. Young people are speaking up. Donald Trump is doing that. People are speaking up, they’re engaging like never before.

For the first time in history we’re living through a time period where we’re learning about the presidency at the same time as the president which is engaging people like never before. You wake up, you read the newspaper and you go I never knew this before and somewhere at that exact same moment the president is reading that same newspaper saying the exact same thing and that for me is exciting. Is it scary? Yes, but most exciting things are scary but honestly, I saw it over the last few weeks and I mean it’s still unfolding now. You have Hurricane Maria which is wreaking havoc and moving to Puerto Rico now and we’re seeing the devastation but we’ve also seen the giving.

I was touched by how many people even on our show reached out and there is an opportunity for everyone to become a goalkeeper which is what excites me and that is in this new world of technology we have the opportunity to engage with activists on the ground level. People often mock millennials and they say these are hashtag activists and I argue they’re hashtag activists until they’re given the opportunity to take it from a tweet into the street and so I urge every single one of you in this room if you have the power, if you have the ability, if you have the information or the knowledge, take these people up on what they’re offering. They’re energized, they’re optimistic, they’re powerful beyond all measure and I’m proud to say that I am one of them, I am a millennial and by proxy I hope to be a goalkeeper.

Thank you very much for having me and congratulations on everything today.”[/read]

Trevor Noah

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