Say what you will about Trevor Noah (like how his portrayals of charity or diaspora engagement in his home continent are sometimes spot on, and sometimes need to evolve), but his cultural competency was on full display last week during this interview with Colin Warner, a man falsely imprisoned in New York for over 20 years. A native of Trinidad, Warner was exonerated and was promoting the new movie about his life on the Daily Show.
What I find great about their interaction is Noah’s patience, the respect displayed as he listened to what Warner brought to the table. In all my years in monitoring and evaluation, and now as a communicator, the guidance I’ve received about good interview skills is that active listening must be a part of it. But in my experience, a sense of urgency (engrained in us all by dominant white culture) can often get in the way. Noah didn’t allow this, even though he only has 5-6 minutes for these interviews. Take a look, starting especially with Noah’s first question for Warner at 2:45:
(Apologies for anyone outside the U.S. who may not be able to access the video via the Comedy Central channel. It is not yet uploaded on YouTube.)
Warner knew the power of a message and what sharing his experience could offer the Daily Show audience. The space Noah creates on his show was filled with that and that alone, not with his own questions, not with attention to the clicking-down clock. It is rare to see that in action in today’s media.
I call attention to this example because it’s on all do-gooders need to develop these skills and attitudes to ensure inclusive, democratic, and thoughtful decision-making. Respect for people’s ideas, experiences, cultural values, and traditions is the bottom line for how we learn and work together, but one we haven’t yet achieved in our do-gooder industry.
I also share this clip because de-colonizing my own get-it-done proclivity (and often what seems like my only focus!) is a current part of my journey. I am learning, constantly, how to slow down to speed up, and what else is needed from me to go together.
At this point in history, every public example of cultural humility in action and demonstration of the depth of connection between the personal and political is welcome.
So thank you Trevor Noah and Colin Warner for pointing us back to what’s most important. As Warner imparts,
Love somebody…That’s the only way change gonna happen, the only way we’re going to see some progress…We cannot keep asking, and not give.
And isn’t that the best guidance for interviewers ever?