A man asked if all poor Americans should get reparations. Trevor Noah's response is perfect.

Trevor Noah has a brilliant way of breaking down complex or challenging ideas into easily digestible nuggets.

If you haven’t seen Trevor Noah’s "Between the Scenes" clips, you’re missing out. During breaks in his late night talk show, Noah chats with the audience about all kinds of topics and then shares these candid conversations on Facebook. For Trevor Noah fans, these tidbits have become every bit as beloved as his comedy show—perhaps even more so, as they showcase Noah’s thoughtful intelligence in an unscripted way.

Take, for instance, his recent "Between the Scenes" clip where he answered a question from the audience about reparations.


An audience member asked, “Do you think reparations should go to just one group or should it target people in the same kind of, like, socio-economic group?"

“That’s an interesting question,” Noah responded. “What do you mean by that?”

“Well, there are white people that have been disenfranchised lately,” the man explained.

Recently is the key,” said Noah interjected.

“Well, the country deindustrialized, right?" replied the man. "So, a lot of people in manufacturing jobs and stuff, their areas were affected.”

The audience member is referencing an argument that comes up a lot in conversations about reparations—that many white Americans are currently struggling economically because of the changes in the economy and industrialization, so shouldn't they also receive some kind of compensation from the government?

Noah explained what reparations actually means, and why it doesn’t have anything to do with the current economic woes of middle America.

“To your question, I think you have to understand what the word ‘reparations’ means first," said Noah. "You are repairing something that’s broken. You are paying for something you were supposed to pay for. I’m not saying that there aren’t people living in America today who are suffering and are going through pain and strife because of what’s happening when it comes to machines taking jobs, factories becoming industrialized, etc. But reparations is a specific conversation about a specific time in America. And that is Black people were slaves, you know what I mean?"

He touched on the common "What about the Irish?" argument: "I have even heard people say like, ‘Oh but there were some of the Irish who were indentured.’  Slavery—look at the numbers, look at the time, look at the level of work. You could not work toward your freedom. For most Black people in America this was a time when you lived and died as a slave. And so that’s what reparations is about."

"And so I hear what you’re saying," Noah told the man who asked the question, "but I think that’s a completely separate conversation that needs to be had about the now. Because if you are not careful what you then do is combine everybody’s suffering into the same bowl and you make it seem all injustices have the same weighting, and they don’t. Just like crimes, you know, theft isn’t the same as murder. We don’t try them the same way.”

Noah empathized with people's economic strife, but explained how it can’t be compared to the centuries of injustices heaped upon Black Americans.

“I feel for anybody who is suffering because I know what it’s like to be poor,” continued Noah. “I know what it’s like to suffer. I didn’t come from a wealthy family. We struggled when I was growing up. But I also understand that there are levels of that suffering, you know?”

Noah said he understands why the idea of white privilege is hard for some White Americans to grasp. “You go, ‘White privilege,’ and a person goes, ‘I’m poor and I’m White. Where’s the privilege?’ White people are like, ‘I wish I could activate my white privilege. I wish I could do it right now. White privilege! Give me something!’ I get that. I get that, trust me, I get it. It is hard to accept that you have benefits because of the color of your skin if you cannot see the benefits that you have.”

Instead of thinking in terms of privilege, Noah said he tells people to think of how a handicap works in golf. “In golf they acknowledge that you are in a position where you need so many advantages to be competitive in the game, right? So what they say is, ‘You have a handicap of 15.’ So that means you’re going to be hitting from this tee and you get more chances to get the ball in because we understand the position you’re in.”

Then he brought it all together to show why the idea of reparation for Black Americans is worth consideration:

“If you’re a Black person in America, from slavery, from day one, the number of injustices that have held Black people back in America amounts to an insurmountable…like, you look at Black people’s freedom, you look at Black people’s land. Just land alone. The amount of wealth you can acquire over time if you own land is exponential. Because you have the land. You have the fact that you can borrow based on the land. You have the fact that you can use the money that you have borrowed to grow more wealth. You can use it to grow your family’s wealth. Just taking that way from Black people alone is crippling them. And so you combine that with slavery, and then you look at Jim Crow laws. You didn’t let Black people in America live in the areas they wanted to live in. They couldn’t get loans from the banks that they wanted to get loans from. And then on top of that when they started getting the loans from American banks, American banks were found to be giving them higher interest rates when in fact they were the same risk as many of the other races that they were given loans to."

He also pointed to the fact that reparations isn't an issue for white folks to be debating, but something for Black Americans to work out with the U.S. government.

"So when you combine all of those things, I think it’s safe to say that Black Americans have a conversation they need to be having with the United States. Doesn’t involve me. Doesn’t involve white people. It’s like, ‘Yo, American government, meet the Black people.’ That’s it. Have that conversation.”

Thanks, Trevor, for once again breaking down a controversial issue in a way that helps us all understand it better. (For a deeper dive into reparations, read Ta-Nehisi Coates' op-ed in The Atlantic, "The Case for Reparations.")

Watch Noah's "Between the Scenes" clip here:

Reparations & White Privilege

For anyone confused about reparations:

Posted by Between the Scenes on Monday, March 25, 2019
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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Photo by Adelin Preda on Unsplash

A multinational study found that bystanders intervene in 9 out of 10 public conflicts.

The recent news report of a woman on a Philadelphia train being raped while onlookers did nothing to stop it was shocking and horrible, without question. It also got people discussing the infamous "bystander effect," which has led people to believe—somewhat erroneously, as it turns out—that people aren't likely to intervene when they see someone being attacked in public. Stories like this uninterrupted train assault combined with a belief that bystanders rarely step in can easily lead people to feel like everything and everyone is horrible.

But according to the most recent research on the subject, the Philadelphia incident appears to be the exception, not the rule. A 2019 multinational study found that at least one bystander (but usually more) will actually intervene in 9 out of 10 public conflicts.

The idea that people in groups aren't likely to intervene stems largely from research on the 1964 story of Kitty Genovese, a 28-year-old woman who was stabbed to death outside her apartment in New York, while dozens of onlookers in surrounding apartment buildings allegedly did nothing. However, further research has called the number of witnesses into question, and it appears that several did, in fact, call the police. Someone reportedly shouted out their window and scared the attacker away for a few minutes, and someone did rush to Genovese's aid after the second attack.

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