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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
The Trevor Noah Interview. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired June 21, 2020 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Hey, welcome to this 360 Special Report, "The Trevor Noah Interview."
Trevor Noah was born in South Africa and came to the United States in 2011. He replaced Jon Stewart, his host The Daily Show on Comedy Central 2015. Since then, he's made the show he is bringing a unique look at American politics and culture.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TREVOR NOAH, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": I know these comments about immigrants who are upsetting to some people, but for me as an African, there's just something familiar about Trump that makes me feel at home. What I'm trying to say is Donald Trump is presidential. He just happens to be running on the wrong continent. Now in 2016, I say it's time to be bold once more and elect America's first African presidents.
When that happens, when a true African finally enters the Oval Office, the people of Africa will erupt into songs of praise. (FOREIGN LANGUAGE) Mexican rapists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: In March like all late night hosts, Noah began broadcast from home and after the killing of George Floyd knows shows and become even more personal and poignant. Nearly every night these past few weeks, he's focused on race and equality and police reform.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NOAH: I don't know what made that video more painful for people to watch the fact that, that man was having his life taken in front of our eyes. The fact that we're watching someone being murdered by someone whose job is to protect and serve, or the fact that he seems so calm doing it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Noah was born during apartheid in South Africa. His mother was black, his father white. Noah is very existence was a crime. That experience and the transformation he seen in South Africa is where we began our conversation.
You know, one of the reasons I really wanted to talk to you particularly in this time is that I've spent a fair amount of time in South Africa in the days before Mandela was elected. I was able to be there on election day. And so I do and which was one of the most extraordinary days of my life to witness.
COOPER: And have gone back an awful lot. It's a country I care a lot about you, you're from a country, which has undergone this extraordinary transformation, a transformation that, you know, when I first went there in 1985 people said, Oh, it's impossible, it's going to end up in a bloodbath.
COOPER: And that has not happened. So, you are from a place where transformation and reform has taken place. How optimistic are you that reform in police departments in America is possible that reform in the inequalities in the health care system in America or in the education system is actually possible?
NOAH: Well, here's one of the biggest things coming from South Africa taught me is that fixing the problem is the first step. You then have to deal with all of the effects that the problem created. And so I saw this firsthand. I come from a country where black people were given the freedom that they deserved.
But then they very quickly realized that freedom was the beginning. Freedom is where the work begins, you now have to undo all of those years, all of those decades of systemic racism, you have to undo all of those years, where a giant chunk of the population wasn't afforded education, where a giant chunk of the population wasn't treated as human beings. How do you catch all of those people up?
And so I always think that there's hope. I genuinely always think that there's hope. I think there's always work to be done. But there's always hope. Because we are where we are, you know? I don't live in a world where I say it's hopeless.
I am where I am because of hope. I hope if I didn't -- if I wasn't an optimist, then I would be denying my existence to a black mother and a white father in South Africa. And so for me, I have to be optimistic and I think America has an opportunity.
COOPER: And as you've written about it, you were born at a time in South Africa where --
COOPER: -- just being born to the family to the -- to a mother who is black and a father who was white was illegal. And you actually -- they used to hide you because of that.
NOAH: Right. And so I've come from that world, you know? My mother suffered in ways that I can't even imagine, my family, my, my community, my country. And what's interesting to me is, as any scholar of apartheid would know, the stories are so similar to what's happening in America. The dynamics are different, but they're so similar.
And what gives me hope is the people who are in the streets, what gives me hope is seeing black people, white people, brown people, Asian people, everyone walking together, saying Black Lives Matter that gives me hope.
COOPER: You, you know, you come from a country which, as we talked about, has gone through this extraordinary transformation. One of the most moving things I have seen are some of the testimony that took place during the Truth and Reconciliation commissions in South Africa started back in 1995. And they were televised.
I mean, people saw them around the world, but in South Africa, I mean, it transfixed the nation, because you suddenly had, you know, white police officers who had been, you know, the torturers and beating people as part of the apartheid system, you know, admitting to their crimes in some cases. In some cases they got immunity, in some cases they didn't.
I just want to show for viewers in America who don't know about this, just a clip from one of the hearings, which was broadcast, and then we'll talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not true that you and Corson assaulted me throughout the trip.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you say, we assaulted you in the Combee, then I would concede that in all probability, I did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And I mean, this went on and on. And it just, it was extraordinary. And I'm wondering, I mean, is that a step toward overcoming this country's original sin?
NOAH: I don't think there's any perfect system when you're trying to fix the legacy of racism. What I do know is as a South African, and I can only speak for myself and my family and the people I experienced this with. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission gave us something that is so badly needed in the wake of a system that has oppressed people, and that is closure. The catharsis of the acknowledgement of what happened to you by the people that did it to you.
And what I've noticed in America is there is a certain reticence around accepting America's history. People feel like that if they acknowledged today what happened 400 years ago, they then have to somehow pay a price now for what when, in fact, that's not the truth. The acknowledgment of that helps everybody move forward. When you agree on how people got to where they got to today, you can then have a better understanding of how to get them where they need to be. But until you do that, you're not dealing from an agreed place. You're not dealing from an agreed history and that that for me is a fundamentally dangerous place to be because how do we know where we're going if we can't agree on where we've been?
And so, in many ways, that's what America is being forced to go through in an ugly way right now. Cellphone cameras have brought you a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, you know, and right now, there hasn't been reconciliation, but the truth is definitely coming out. Because for many years, black Americans have said, Hey, I'm living in a world where I might just be walking, I might just be driving, I'm just being black. And the police are treating me in an inferior way to my fellow white countrymen.
And for so many years, people said, what, this is insane. This is impossible. This is not true. And I can believe that many people didn't believe it, because they had never seen a policeman do such a thing. But as videos and as cameras have become as ubiquitous as they are, it's becoming that commission. It's becoming -- it's becoming a world where people are forced to see the truth of the America that they live in.
COOPER: What do you make of the charges against the officer who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks, and the fact that the other officer involved who's been charged with some lesser offenses, is seems to be cooperating with the prosecution may testify against fellow officer which is pretty rare.
NOAH: Well, I mean, I haven't had the time to delve into all of the details of the charges, Anderson, but I won't lie. My overwhelming feeling about the entire thing is sadness. Sadness, because I think a lot of people have tried to frame the story as a win or lose, you know, people like oh, this is a victory that the cop was charge is a victory but I can't help thinking to myself that this is more losing, you know, not that this shouldn't have happened, but rather that people forget that this is what the entire movement is fighting for or against is, you know, two members of society could be lost to us.
You know, we've lost Rayshard Brooks, his life has gone and this police officer could also lose his life. You know, whether he goes to jail, whatever happens to him. I'd like I -- I think people sometimes are losing the context of what whether it's Black Lives Matter, or the protests in the streets are actually fighting for on the ground is that it's not supposed to be a zero sum game. It's supposed to be that everybody wins and everyone moves forward.
And that's the biggest thing I made of what happened today. I was like, it's another dose of sadness. It's justice. But it's another thing that we don't want this as a byproduct of living in society. You don't want these instances to continue because nobody wins.
COOPER: I saw so much of what you said about this case, about this killing. And one of the things which you talked about and I couldn't help but think was I was watching the video is that for so much of it just seems like it's just going to be a regular stop. You know, it's a guy who was asleep in a vehicle and aligning to Wendy's, you know, they get him to pull over the vehicle. They even make a joke at some point --
NOAH: Right, right.
COOPER: -- one of them. They're having a conversation. Rayshard Brooks is you know, calling them Sir, you know, being respectful.
COOPER: These seem to be being respectful to him. I mean it just sent and to have it suddenly, you know, the handcuffs, there's resisting and then it just within a matter of seconds it seems ends up with the person dead.
NOAH: Yes, and I think that's the thing that affects all of us is that it seems like it's a matter of seconds but I feel like in the system that is created in America today it's more than a matter of seconds, you know, it's all the dominoes that need to fall in order for the entire thing to be to be a catastrophe.
It's living in a society where people feel like they need to call police because a man is sleeping in his car, like even that first domino is something I feel like we need to examine in society as a whole is, are there different ways to handle these interactions that we could be having as human beings, you know, and then and then you look at the police.
I mean, in my opinion, and I said this, I know it's messy, but as a policeman, I would argue that your job when going out to a call like this is to ensure safety and in that moment, luckily the person is not driving the vehicle, he's sleeping in the car. He is an abbreviated. But that everybody is safe.
And in that moment I asked myself what do you lose? Genuinely, what do you lose in that moment? By taking that person home? What do you lose, you know, by giving this person a warning? What -- and I know there'll be people who say that person could have been drunk driving, could have been, could it, yes, but that person is dead. And I think that is not a hypothetical.
And so what really gets to me as a human being honestly is looking at these situations and going, it's not just a matter of seconds. We always think it is but you come to realize that there are so many steps before we get there that lead us to that place. We -- There's so many steps, you know, like the cuffing, the way you're dealing with the person. When he's running away the fact that so many police feel like a black man who's running away from them is still a threat.
And I think that that's a real problem. And that's where people are watching for. That's what people are protesting about is they're saying, why is it that the very blackness of a man is something that is perceived as a threat regardless of the action and as I say it's messy, because he had the taser, because he fought them back.
But I think that every Domino that gets us there is what needs to be analyzed because otherwise we're stuck analyzing these moments. And we don't look at the larger picture of how we get to the place where people are losing their lives.
COOPER: It's also a thing because I mean, things escalate. And I'm not sure how much training there is on de escalation. I know that's obviously been a focus of topic among demonstrators and should be --
COOPER: -- among police as well. Even the notion of, you know, I know a lot of police officers who are frustrated at a high volume of calls that they are sent out on --
COOPER: -- not necessarily things that you need an armed person to deal with. Some of them could probably be taken care of, you know, a social worker in some way. And oftentimes the police are ending up being asked to do stuff, which is not necessarily in their in their training.
NOAH: Yes, there's -- look, there's no denying, you know, and it's not been lucky enough to talk to police chiefs, police commissioners, police officers, who are human beings behind the badge, the human beings. And all of the -- all of the officers I've talked to have said the same thing. Police are tasked with doing too much in American society. And that is what the defund the police movements is about.
These people are saying why are we putting all of our eggs in one basket. Why do we expect police to solve all of society's ills, especially when 95 percent of the things cops are called out for are not violent instances? Why are police coming up? Why do you need somebody there with a gun? Do you need somebody with a gun to wake somebody up in their car? Is that necessary?
And, you know, there's the old saying, if you have a hammer, then everything looks like a nail. And it's safe to say that if you have a gun, there's a good chance that a gun will be used. I mean, it's the same reason when you go to a club, they say nobody gets in the club with a gun because they know if a scuffle breaks out, the gun can go off, there's a chance that somebody will get shots.
And so I think when we look at these things, sometimes we, you know, we go de-escalation, but I almost feel like people forget that the police coming is in and of itself an escalation. You know, they don't even intend this when they come in but by the mere fact that police who are armed are coming in, that is the initial escalation of what's happening. When George Floyd may or may not have a counterfeit $20 bill. I'll tell you now from South Africa, I remember as a kid, I had a fake, was a 50 random note, and I didn't know it. I mean, that's what happens with fake money gets circulated. And what happened is I got to the store, I gave it to the person behind the counter, they looked at the money with the light, and you know what they did, they gave it back to me, and they said, this is fake, go to the bank.
There were no police, there was no need for an escalation. Because as human beings, we didn't think that that was a necessity. And I think that in of itself is an escalation. If you send a police officer who has a gun with them, they are in a position where they are escalating the situation whether they want to or not, because they're forced to approach things as an officer of the law in a certain way.
And now if you talk to them, you could be resisting arrest. If you say hey, I don't see why I'm being arrested, you resisting arrest. And I always find it strange that in America, you live in a country where people can be arrested for resisting arrest when they may be no under -- no other underlying charge, I think that's a very strange chicken in the egg scenario that leaves people and police in a very sticky situation.
COOPER: I'm always interested in how we see things through our own lenses. We see things through different lenses, whether it's were -- lenses that were based on where we're born, or the color of our skin, or socio economic status. You know, some people see the huge numbers of protesters in the streets.
They see it as overwhelmingly peaceful, which it is and opportunity for change. Others focus on -- they see looting and rioting. And that defines how they see everything. And I -- you talked a little bit about this on your program. I just want to play something that you said about looting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NOAH: Maybe it would help you if you think about that unease that you felt watching that target being looted. Try to imagine how it must feel for black Americans, when they watch themselves being looted every single day. Because that's fundamentally what's happening in America. Police in America are looting black bodies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I wonder if you talk a little bit more about that because I it's a -- its an image I think that startled some people.
NOAH: Here's the thing I think a lot of people don't understand. Black Americans and people who are marching on the streets, all of these activists and organizers, when they're fighting, when they're out there in the streets, what they're protesting for, is law and order. They're fighting for an equal application of law and order. And I think that's what a lot of people don't realize. A lot of people see a video of target being looted, or Wendy's being burned down or -- and I understand why that freaks you out because none of us wants to live in that society. I don't want to live in a world where things are being burnt down. Nobody does.
But what do you think it feels like to be a person who lives in a world when the people who are tasked with protecting and serving you do neither of those things? And so if police are not following the laws, and if police are the people who are meant to be enforcing the law, that is a -- that's a fundamental breakdown in the contract that people have with this society.
And so I think a lot of the time people don't ask why, people go is looting good or is looting bad, is rioting is good, is rioting is bad, is protesting good or is protesting bad but they don't go why? Why is this happening?
And so what really gets me is, is when I see like an argument that sometimes people don't look at holistically, I see people say, Oh, yes, but you know, George Floyd had a criminal history. You know, George Floyd had an issue with drugs, George Floyd -- I'll go yes, but understand what you're saying right now.
So many people say George Floyd died because he had a criminal history. But I don't think enough people are looking at this holistically and asking themselves this question. Why do you know that he had a criminal history? Because he paid the price for the crimes that he committed.
All right, that's why we say that somebody has the history because they've done -- you've done the time. That is the purpose of what you've done. You've done the time. He didn't die because of his criminal history. He died because the man who had his knee on his neck for that eight minute and 46 seconds, never paid the price for his history of infringements. He never paid the price for the things that he did wrong.
The reason George Floyd is dead is because the person who had the power to put his knee on his neck never paid a price for that 18 or 20 things that we know about from his record that got him to that moment in time. And the differences in that video is you have two men, two men in particular, where one has been forced to pay the price for every transgression that they've made against society, and one has not. And because of that, the other has lost their life.
COOPER: It's also you hear a lot and, you know, you use the phrase you hear sometimes well, if, you know, he had a criminal history or he resisted arrest, and if you hadn't done that, none of this would have happened. And then, you know, another incident occurs and it's Breonna Taylor asleep --
COOPER: --in -- an apartment and it's a no knock warrant. Door busts in. They weren't there for her and she gets shot and killed and, you know, and then it's, well, you know, the kid shouldn't have been in the park with a --
COOPER: -- an air rifle or I can't remember the particular situation of, you know, toy handgun or toy air rifle.
NOAH: Yes, Tamir Rice. yes, yeah.
COOPER: Yes, after a while it -- you lose. After a while you run out of possible explanations.
NOAH: I don't think we run out of possible explanations. I think we avoid the most obvious explanation. And that is that black people are seen as an inherent threat and the darker your skin -- the darker your skin the more threatening you seem. The bigger you are, the more threatening you seem.
You know, I was I was talking to some NBA players this week who weren't speaking as NBA players. We're just talking as fathers of big boys because they are big guys and they have now, you know, they got these kids who are big and they're like, what do I tell my six foot 2, 14-year-old son? How do I tell him to make himself less so that if he encounters law enforcement, they do not see him as more, that they're not threatened by his more. That is an insane world to live in.
When you're not trying to teach a kid how to not be threatening to an adult, just think about that for a second. That is the world that black Americans are living in. And I think people forget, people always focus on the people who have died, which we always have to do.
We have to think about all those names the Walter Scott's, the Tamir Rice's, we have to think about the Breonna Taylor's, we have to think about the Sandra Bland's. But I think people forget that people are fighting for black lives. People are fighting for the black people who are still alive, so that that doesn't happen to them.
You know when you say that to me, and I like that you bring that up is the ifs, the ifs, the ifs, the ifs, if you want this, if you want this, if you want this, if you want this, there's one common thread and that is that the people are black.
COOPER: You compared our current situation to -- you talk about dominoes for the kind of a domino effect of one thing happening another in a very short period of time. The video of Amy Cooper in the park, calling the police on a black man who was bird watching in Central Park. And the particular verbiage that she used, I thought was very illuminating about -- she said to him, I will tell them, and I'm paraphrasing, I will tell them an African American --
NOAH: An African American man is threatening my life. I will tell them that an African American man is threatening my life. That's what she said. COOPER: Yes. Which is not saying -- it's not saying, you know, I'll tell them you're threatening, you know, I'll tell them you're threatening -- you're threatening me. It's -- I will tell them an African-American man is threatening, you know, it's -- I don't know, I assume she was thinking - she knew what she was saying.
NOAH: I don't even I don't even assume it. I think that was one of the most powerful moments that we've seen on camera because oftentimes, we aren't given a glimpse into the mind of these people who use the police as a weapon or as a tool to dole out justice in their opinion or to dole out revenge against black people.
We're not in their minds, you know, whether it's the Permit Patties or the Karens (ph) as they've called. We're not in their minds. But in this instance, in this instance, I'm genuinely grateful that on camera, Christian Cooper was able to catch Amy Cooper explicitly saying what is going on.
I will use how the police react to you and your skin color against you. I will tell them -- I won't tell them I'm in danger. I won't tell them that I'm afraid. I won't tell them that there's a man. No, no, no, I will tell them exactly what I know they need to hear to approach the situation in a way that will give you, that will deal to you the most egregious bodily harm possible. That was a threat.
And in that moment, you know, when she came out after and said, I wasn't being racist, and that's normal (ph). No, no, no, that's the thing, is you don't realize that that's how powerful it is. It's in that moment. That was your instinct and the truth came out.
And so, I think that when we talk about the dominoes, we start to see that how even in society. Society is part and parcel of what the police are. You know, society has for so long accepted in America. Most of society's accepted that the police will do their bidding, the police are doing -- the police are keeping them safe. That's what people think.
Well, you know Fufu (ph), I mean, I hear that he was resisting. I hear that he -- I hear that he went for the taser. I hear that he went for, I hear, I hear, I hear, I hear. The subtext is, you know what, I hear that the officer was keeping me safe in some hypothetical world, stopping that black man from getting to me.
But in that moment, she showed that really, sometimes it's just going I know how the structures of power work in this world. I understand systemic racism and how it works. And I'm going to use it against you. Because you did to challenge me for breaking the rules.
COOPER: What's interesting -- when you compare it to the, you know, the woman in the park with the dog, she had -- I mean, picking up the phone and calling and police, there was not an ounce doubt in her mind how that would go. I mean, she --
NOAH: Right. COOPER: -- had complete confidence in the police. And the fact that there's such a division and how, you know, my experiences growing up with the police are different than, you know, Mr. Cooper in the parks experience with the police.
NOAH: I think that's the disconnect. And that's the awakening that America is going through, has been going through and maybe we'll continue to go through. Is that they're all white people in America who have woken up to the reality that the police they know are not the police that black people know.
And I found it -- I've genuinely found it so inspiring to see why people say no, hey, I genuinely didn't know this was happening. And now I'm seeing this on the more, I'm seeing it like this, this is insane. I -- this is crazy, because it happens to us as human beings.
And so, I think that's what people maybe need to realize and that's what a lot of people are realizing. I think that's why they're marching as they're going. There are two different stories that the police are telling America, there are two different worlds that Americans are living in.
And the sooner people can realize that, the sooner you can have conversations around how to limit that from happening, how to stop that from continuing as a story in this country because you don't need to live in a world where thousands of people are being killed by police every single year. You don't need to live in that world.
COOPER: Well I also think it's interesting, the involvement of so many white people in the protests. Because in some ways, we are seeing things that we don't normally see on television. We are seeing a 75- year old white man pushed by a police, a white police officer and ignored --
COOPER: -- as he's bleeding on the sidewalk. And that blew people's minds. That is shocking to people. So much so that the President of United States had to come and say, well, he was probably in a Tifa guy. And he was secretly doing this thing to kind of explain away, that he did something wrong to make that happen and he probably faked his fall.
Because the alternative is that you're just -- that every white person out there is just as vulnerable as every black person out there. If, I mean, if you see it on television, I think that -- I mean, I'm wondering if you think that was part of the shock of people seeing that or, you know, seeing regular protesters, white protesters being hit by billy clubs, just to scoot them along or an officer casually walking by and spray -- pepper spraying somebody laying on the ground holding up their press ID. That's the kind of stuff you don't normally see on television.
NOAH: You know, I think, Anderson, for so many people -- and I don't mean this -- I don't say this to insights, I don't say this to try and divide people, but I say this in the most honest way possible. I think it's because for so long without realizing it, there has been a dehumanizing element that has been attached to black people in America. And so, when black bodies are treated that way by police, there is a subtext that exists within people's minds, where they go, well, this black people is just not the same. There's something I don't -- there's an otherness.
And what's interesting is once we see that same thing happening to what we process as being more like us or more human, we then start to see it differently. Black Lives Matter is not about fighting against white people, it's about fighting against systemic racism. It's about fighting against the idea that a police force can be the law unto themselves. And so when that old man gets pushed, the bigger issue for me -- or rather the bigger revelation is less, the old man getting pushed. And the fact that the police department says that he wasn't pushed, he tripped and he fell.
And then the video contradicts what happened. And then we see multiple police departments in that same week exposed in the same way a video contradicts what they said happened. And then you start to understand the pattern.
And so maybe, unfortunately, what's happened here is police in America haven't been savvy enough to treat those people well so that they can continue the myth when, in fact, they've just continued being themselves. And now so many white Americans are experiencing just a tiny taste of what many black people experience every single day.
COOPER: I think use words which I think is so important, sort of otherize and I'm not sure it's an actual word, but I've heard it before and I like it. It should be a word if it's not. The other rising --
NOAH: I hope it's a word.
COOPER: I know. The otherizing of people and I think it's such a dangerous thing. And, again, I go back to -- and not, that it's in any way, kind of -- it's an apples and oranges comparison. But, you know, in the days leading up to the 100-day genocide in Rwanda, in which 800,000 to 1 million people were hacked to death and killed in very intimate, sickening ways, you know, on radio stations, government control radio stations, Tutsis in Rwanda were called cockroaches. They were otherized.
And, you know, and that was repeatedly done and done in order to enable people to kill them without thinking, well, it's not a human being, they're a cockroach --
COOPER: -- there are other than. And we see that in our body politic, you know, all the time over the last many years, you know, that invaders are coming. You know, they're not -- these are not -- the people coming over the border, they're rapists, they're criminals. We otherize, you know, we see each other in a way that we try to dehumanize them, they're other than us, they there than --
COOPER: -- American, they're other than patriotic, they're other than, you know, a person of faith, they're other than someone who loves their family. And that's -- that is just such a dangerous thing in my mind, and I don't know how we stop doing that. I think media plays a role in it and how we portray, you know, how some -- particularly some stations portray people with different points of view but if we keep other rising, we -- that does not lead to any place good.
NOAH: Here are two moments that stuck in my head. The one was burned into my memory in my time living in the U.S. One of those was when I first moved to the U.S., I spent way too much time watching local news. And one thing that always fascinated me was how the local news would always wrap up the broadcast with a picture of a black man, some random sketch and they would say the phrase, the police are looking for this man in connection with a crime that was committed.
And I remember watch every single day I would see this and I'll be like, damn, every single day they are looking for some black guy who has done something. Every single day. And I'd never seen anything like this.
And I'll never forget, one day reading the back half of that story, when the men they were looking for in connection with the crime just happened to be in the area of the crime. And the news, the local news never went back and told the full story where it was those men had actually been part of stopping a crime that had been committed. And then they carried on with their day.
Those men's faces, those men's sketches, that little -- they actually, I think, they had surveillance footage of them walking into a store that had nothing to do with the crime. Their faces had always been up with that thing of, the cops are looking for these guys in connection with a crime. But the local news never came back and said, hey, you know, these guys, these were actually the heroes. These black men that we showed you, these were actually the heroes in the story and so you don't need to look for them anymore.
There's never the end of the story. There's only the, you know, the retelling of the story of who these people are. And people don't understand the power of it. And if you want to see the flip side of that systemic racism, I will never forget when Brock Turner was having his case. And Brock Turner, some people may or may not remember was the young guy who raped a woman in an alley.
And, you know, the court case was -- this messy thing people like what she drunk, was he drunk with -- but I'll never forget what the judge said, the original judge who dealt with him said, and I paraphrase here, but the judge basically said, I don't want to send this kid to jail forever, because it's just going to -- it's going to mess up his life. He had so much going for him.
And I thought to myself, wow, this judge was able to see past what he had done, and see him as a human being and say, hey, maybe we should give him a -- I was like, that is the power of seeing somebody like you see yourself. And that for me is the two sides of the coin that Americans have been forced or have lived within for a long time, is that there are two different sides of justice. There are two different ways that law and order are doled out.
And people don't understand the difference. People don't understand how an officer has the opportunity to give you a warning, an officer has the opportunity to treat you as somebody who's not inherently a criminal, an officer has an opportunity to spare your life if they see you as they see themselves. And so that's why so many people are saying -- and I go back to what they're saying, let's get fewer law enforcement officers who are going to be out there thinking of solving crimes, when in fact, you should have people who can be handling situations.
COOPER: You know, a lot of the things that are talked about as reforms in police departments can be done at state and local levels. But there is also federal leadership and the need for federal leadership. I mean, could South Africa had made the changes that it was able to make and obviously, look, there's still huge inequalities in South Africa. There's tremendous problems, and problems and leadership and corruption and all sorts of issues.
But I don't know that -- I mean, maybe I idealize Nelson Mandela too much, but I have a poster of him up in my office, but could South Africa have become what it is today without a Nelson Mandela?
NOAH: It's a tough question to answer because, you know, the world of hypotheticals is unending. I think --
COOPER: Well, does America need a federal leadership on this?
NOAH: Well, yes. And, you know, I argue -- to answer your first question in a second, I don't think South Africa would have been able to come out of Apartheid the way it did without Nelson Mandela. And I think that's why the ANC leadership at the time chose Nelson Mandela because they knew how he was as a person. They knew he had the ability not just to lead but to bring people together.
And although South Africa is far from perfect, the one thing that I think served us and the only reason we were able to exist as a country is because we bucked the myth. Because remember, even though Africans, even though black people were being oppressed in South Africa, the idea and the fear was still that once black people were given their freedom, they would turn around and exec (ph) revenge on all the white people. And so what you experienced in South Africa was extreme white flight.
And funny enough, other countries around the world assisted in this. You know, when it was Clinton's regime or when it was the Australian government, whoever, they said to white South Africans, come, we will give you special visas, we will get you out of there because we understand the situation. By the way, something that they never afforded to black South Africans during Apartheid, and again, you see the power of sameness, the power of seeing somebody as you are.
And so for me in America, if people would understand this, there's a reason that everybody is behind this cause. There's a reason that this is something that is unifying people in a way that you've never seen before. You know, when Tim Scott, a Republican Senator is saying, this affects me as a senator, there are only 100 senators in America, and he's saying I have experienced this firsthand. I have been stopped multiple times by police in a way that my colleagues have not.
When you have NBA superstars, having their legs broken by the NYPD, just because they are the way they are, they are tall, black person and now they're perceived to be a threat, you start to realize that this thing goes beyond what you can achieve. You cannot out achieve the systemic racism that you will experience as a black American person. And so I feel like what people really need to understand is everyone is being held back by this thing.
And so if you enact these things, if you look at a system where police are not the only tool that you have, where you do not put all your funds into a force, but you look at different ways to resolve society's ills, you can live in a more just society where you don't have to deal with it because you've dealt with it.
COOPER: I read something that your mom told you, and I hope it's OK to bring this up, I know you've talked about it. And your mom was shot by her then husband, your stepfather shot --
NOAH: He was her ex -- he was actually her ex-husband. My mom was shot by her ex-husband long after she had left.
COOPER: And this was in 2009. And I know your mom is, in your eyes, a hero for her strength in -- under an Apartheid regime to live life the way she wanted to and to have you and, you know, to raise you. After she was shot and -- she was -- she said to you about your stepfather, she said don't hate him for doing this, but rather pity him, because he too is a victim in his own way of a world that is thrust upon him. An idea of masculinity that he is subscribed to and is now a part of. As for myself, I do not wish to imbue myself with a hatred that only I will carry. I mean, that's incredible.
NOAH: I -- you know, I've been really lucky to have been raised by a black woman who I think has combined both a horrific life experience with an eternal optimism that I think has been bolstered by her faith. And one of the things that my mother has taught me, is that often times the prison guard or the oppressor is also poisoning themselves, which is something that's difficult for us to see as human beings, you know. And so for me, what my mother taught me is forgiveness is not holding people accountable. Forgiveness is not saying to people, oh, you can just do whatever you like. Forgiveness is saying, I'm not going to allow your actions to hold me hostage. And so, I will deal with what you have done in a manner that is befitting but I'm going to let go of what you have done to me so that we can get to where we're going.
And I think that's what people really need to understand, Black Lives Matter. And these amazing women who are leading the movement, you know, whether you talk to Patrisse Cullors, whether you talk to any of these other amazing women who are leading the movement on the ground, they're not fighting to oppress somebody else. They're fighting for everybody to experience equality because everybody wins in that situation.
NOAH: And the one thing I would ask people to try and do is this, ask yourself this question, when would laws ever written in America that favored black people that hurt white people? And not fictitious examples because I know people will try and think of, in schools and affirmative. No real, real examples, because we've seen time and time again, that when black people achieve justice, that justice is felt by all.
When police stop shooting black people, when police stop treating black people, as less than, there are so many white poor Americans who will not be treated the same way because these rules will affect all police. And I think that's what people need to realize, is that this is about everybody winning. Black Lives Matter is people saying, hey, we want you to fight for black people's rights. And you know what, you're going to benefit from that as well. Because nobody will live in a society where people are being killed for the color of their skin.
Nobody will be having to deal with the trauma of seeing these images on their phones. No one will have to deal with the people who are protesting for rights because now they have been given them and the society is more just
COOPER: Trevor Noah, thank you very much. Really appreciate it.
NOAH: Thank you so much, Anderson.
COOPER: Trevor Noah from "The Daily Show". That's our conversation tonight. Thanks for watching.