by Hannah Paxton ’19
“We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited,” says Trevor Noah in his autobiography, Born a Crime, the assigned book for Providence College’s Common Reading Program this year.
Regarding diversity in experience and beliefs, high school can be rather narrow in scope. Students can be ignorant to their peers’ upbringings.
College is the perfect place to come to the understanding that not everyone shares the same life experiences and opportunities.
In preparation for one of the most life-altering transitions, summer reading is one of the last priorities for incoming freshmen. Assigned reading over the summer seems redundant, as it defeats the purpose of having a break from school.
However, summer reading does not have to be agonizing. With the right book, it can be engaging, informative, and even mind-opening.
Noah’s autobiography provides a unique perspective of a man born in a time when biracial unions were condemned with imprisonment.
Although comical, the book is very poignant in its recounting of Noah’s upbringing and demonstrates the reality of living in a struggling, biracial family.
Particularly over the past couple of years, PC has put an emphasis on diversity and inclusion. The College’s website states “diversity is a key component of our collective pursuit of truth, promoting rigorous exploration of diverse ideas and theories, critical engagement with the world…and collaboration across differences within and beyond the classroom.”
The perfect way of introducing new students to one of the College’s core ideals is by giving them the opportunity to read about it.
The common reading program should preview what PC seeks to offer, and books like Born a Crime do just that.
In the past, the College has assigned I Am Malala, an autobiography of Malala Yousafzai who, like Noah, is a well-known figure among the younger generation.
People like Yousafzai and Noah draw large audiences primarily for their unparalleled and inspiring experiences, which make stories like theirs all the more compelling and necessary to read.
By assigning more books like Born a Crime, the College provides new students with a fresh perspective on diverse backgrounds in a way that is appealing and relatable.
In a time where it is more important than ever to become more politically and socially aware, Born a Crime offers new insight into a distinctive point of view—that of a biracial man with a troublesome upbringing who eventually went on to have a successful career.
Not everyone in Noah’s position shares the same degree of public recognition and achievement; however, his story is important because it helps the reader understand the harsh reality a child can face growing up with parents of different races.
Many students leave high school with a limited awareness of backgrounds outside their own race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or class.
College is meant to prepare young people for a larger world, and the only way to do that is by giving them the knowledge and resources they need to better understand the world.