‘Where Are the Good Apples?’ Trevor Noah on Daunte Wright, Caron Nazario and America’s Rotten Tree of Policing

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Shanelle Genai
·4 min read
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The other day, I took out an avocado in preparation for dinner.

By all accounts this avocado looked perfect. Soft to the touch, but not mushy. Dark outer skin, but not too dark to where you could tell it’s clearly overripe.

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But when I cut it open, it was no good. I mean NO GOOD. And that was confusing to me because just earlier that day, another avocado that was bought the exact same day as the other one was used in a smoothie. And that one was perfectly fine.

It baffled me and it still does if I’m honest. How can two fruits that were arguably plucked from the same tree, bought at the exact same time, and cut into on the exact same day be so different? How is one perfectly good and the other so horribly rotten?

The concept of good and bad fruit also seemed to be on the mind of The Daily Show host Trevor Noah, who recently posed a question to his fans and followers in response to the weeklong news coverage of Daunte Wright, Army Lt. Caron Nazario, and the system of policing.

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“We’re told time and time again that these incidents that Black Americans are experiencing are because of bad apples, right? There are bad apples in these police departments who are doing these things. They use chokeholds that are not allowed, they use excessive force, they’re violent in their words and their actions to the people they’re meant to be protecting and serving. These are bad apples, we’ve got to root them out of the force. My question though is: where are the good apples?”

Noah goes on to explain how if the general consensus is that the police system as a whole in America isn’t inherently broken, then there should—at some point—be some overwhelming proof of ‘good apples’ aka good cops who help keep other ‘bad apples’ aka bad cops from doing what they’re doing. And that while he’s sure that the presence of good cops does, in fact, exist, the mass silence they produce by not speaking out against their fellow man when they’re clearly in the wrong, speaks to a larger, more rotten system than some of us may care to admit.

“We don’t see a mass uprising of police saying ‘let’s root out these people.’ We don’t see videos of police officers stopping another cop from pushing an old man at a Black Lives Matter protest or from beating up a kid in the street with a baton. We don’t see that. So my question is: where are the good apples? Honestly I believe we don’t see them—not because there are no good people on the police force. I think there are many people who are good on the police force. That’s why they joined, because they want to do good. But I think it’s because they, themselves know that if they do something— they’re going against the system.

The system is more powerful than any individual. The system in policing is doing exactly what it’s meant to do in America. And that is to keep poor people in their place. Who happens to be the most poor in America? Black people. You monetize them, you imprison them— which monetizes them again. It’s a system. It’s not broken, it’s working the way it’s designed to work.”

He concludes, “Once you realize that, I feel like you get to a place where you go: ‘oh, we’re not dealing with bad apples. We’re dealing with a rotten tree that happens to grow good apples. But for the most part, the tree that was planted is bearing the fruits that it was intended to.”

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah airs weeknights at 11 p.m. ET on Comedy Central.