“The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah is not shy about expressing his shock at Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election.
“If this morning you finally woke up from a coma, well – you might want to go back,” the South African comedian said on his Comedy Central show after Election Day. He added, “This entire result is sort of like Trump’s hair. I know it’s real, but my mind can’t accept it.”
Noah, who took over the political satire show from Jon Stewart in 2015 when the primary campaigns started to heat up, shared one of his main takeaways from the 2016 race.
“The biggest thing I’ve seen is, America is not as immune to the ills of the world as I thought it was,” Noah said Monday on “CBS This Morning.” “I think a lot of the world is disappointed in America because America is that beacon, is that lighthouse, bastion of democracy.”
Noah said he was sad that the U.S. was “normalizing and moving on so quickly from two glaring truths that were part of what happened in the election.”
“There are people who put two things above everything else, and that is whiteness and then that is also sex,” Noah said.
“People talk about the glass ceiling. What you don’t realize is, you can’t see it because it’s see-through. And misogyny is very quickly gone out of the conversation, where even as a man, I’ve had to come to grips with the facts that it is a tough world to be in when there’s this invisible monster that keeps you down,” Noah said.
He said he tries to mentally note how Hillary Clinton – a former first lady, senator and secretary of state – has faced misogyny throughout her life.
“Unfortunately, I have to use a metric in my head where I say, ‘If she were a man,’ and the fact that I have to even say that means there is a problem,” Noah said. “I have to say, ‘If she were a man, how would I see her? … Would her shortcomings not pale in comparison to those achievements?’”
Apart from sexism, the challenges of “whiteness,” as Noah described, is not unfamiliar to the host who was born to a white Swiss father and black Xhosa mother during South Africa’s apartheid.
“I spent a lot of my time hidden from the authorities. You know, my grandmother hid me. My mother hid me. We had to hide our family, in essence,” Noah said of his youth, which he chronicles in a new memoir, “Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood.”
“I think one of the greatest gifts my parents gave me though was the fact that they didn’t let me know why we were being hidden,” Noah said. “So as a child, that was the only world I knew. I just knew that we were indoors a lot. I knew that my dad would walk on the other side of the road when we’d go outside. I knew that my mom would sometimes dress up like a maid, which I just thought was her style of dress at the time.”
“I didn’t know at the time that my very existence was against the law,” Noah said.
But in retrospect, the challenges helped cultivate what he now views as one of his biggest strengths.
“I think it shaped me because it made me an outsider,” Noah said. “It kept me as an outsider, and that’s one of the greatest gifts that I only came to appreciate later on in life. And that is, when you are an outsider, you’re always working to see different people’s points of view because the world is never yours. You don’t exist in a space where you ever see yourself as the be all and end all.”