Being Coloured - Race and politics in the New South Africa

I am reading the memoir of comedian and television host Trevor Noah, Born A Crime.

Noah grew up in South Africa. The acclaimed autobiography is a powerful reminder of the brutality of racism that keeps the world's colonised people poor. His book speaks to me at many levels as an Australian who spent the first 6 years in South Africa classified as 'coloured': a person of mixed race. Noah doesn't paint a flattering picture of the coloured community. It reflects my observations, even post-Apartheid, of an insecure people, generally speaking, in a holding pattern. I say that with empathy.

In 2008 I produced a radio doco on my journey 'home', calling it Being Coloured. In it my grandfather observes, "You were what they made you". Apartheid South Africa divided not just its black and white citizens but other race groups. The political system bred violence and pettiness. Its legacy continues.

I travelled back to Durban with my mother, Lillian, to try and discover my ancestry and what it meant during apartheid to be 'Coloured'. Does the label still stick in the new South Africa? It became a radio documentary, produced with wonderful colleagues at the ABC. It is a personal journey about identity and what it means to be comfortable in your own skin.

Click on the link Being Coloured for ABC Radio Eye to hear it. It begins with me reading a story to my then small children, a book called Black Skin, White Cow.

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