Black Like Me

Decent Essays
Black Like me
The book Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin is a moving true story of how a white man manages to experience what it is like to be a “Negro” or black person in the 1950s. The author did this social experiment by taking medication and dying his skin a deep brown. He wanted to really experience the challenges and changes a black man in this time would go through. By traveling through the far south, Griffin got a taste of what real life was for a Negro.
The experiment starts in the 1950’s and continues through the 1960’s. Griffin was a journalist seeking an opportunity to truly get to know what life was like for a Black person, especially in the South. At the time he was a middle-aged white man and grew up in Texas, where he
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“He promised perfect discretion and enthusiastically began coaching me…” (23). Griffen soon left Sterling and began traveling through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia. “How did one start? The night lay out there waiting. A thousand questions presented themselves.” (11) After taking the medication and applying the dye to his bare skin, looking in the mirror was surprising. It took some time to get used to. In the time he was traveling through the south, he encountered situations he had never been in before.
Griffen learned many things through his journey, especially about how he was expected to act towards white people. “Once again a ‘hate stare’ drew my attention like a magnet.” (51). He learns not to stop and loiter, not to look directly in the eyes, and also not to stare at white woman. The author talks about how much of a contrast there was between the life of a privileged white man and a black man in the South. It was harder for blacks to get jobs, to buy meals, and to own a home. He wrote about how he was treated in a store. The clerk “jerked the bill furiously from my hand and stepped away from the window. In a moment she reappeared to hurl my change and the ticket on the counter with such force most of it fell on the floor at my feet.” (51). It was surprising to him that just based on somebody’s skin color, the change of attitude in people. In addition he experienced negative attitudes while traveling on a bus; the atmosphere was different as a
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