Language brings with it an identity and a culture, or at least the perception of it. A shared language says, “We’re the same.” A language barrier says, “We’re different.” The architects of apartheid understood this. Part of the effort to divide black people was to make sure we were separated not just physically but by language as well… The great thing about language is that you can just as easily use it to do the opposite: convince people that they are the same. Racism teaches us that we are different because of the color of our skin. But because racism is stupid, it’s easily tricked. If you’re racist and you meet someone who doesn’t look like you, the fact that he can’t speak like you reinforces your racist preconceptions: He’s different, less intelligent. A brilliant scientist can come over the border from Mexico to live in America, but if he speaks in broken English, people say, “Eh, I don’t trust this guy.”

…However, if the person who doesn’t look like you speaks like you, your brain short-circtuis because your racism program has none of those instructions in the code. “Wait, wait,” your mind says, “the racism code says if he doesn’t look like he he isn’t like me, but the language code says if he speaks like me he… is like me?”
Born a Crime, Trevor Noah