Black Like Me
Title: Black Like Me
by: John Howard Griffin
A memoir set back in the 1950's about a Caucasian journalist named John Howard Griffin who decided to change his skin pigmentation (by darkening it) and live as a black man in the deep south (New Orleans, Alabama, Georgia) for almost 2 months. His experiment was to see how people would treat him, even people who knew him, but didn't know he'd undergone this experiment. He became close to and worked with other black men, got forced to use other restrooms, soda fountains, etc. right along with his fellow black men.
He would sometimes see signs like this hanging around:
DESEGREGATE THE BUSES WITH THESE 7 POINTS:
1. Pray for guidance.
2.Be courteous & friendly.
3. Be neat & clean.
4. Avoid loud talk.
5. Do not argue.
6. Report incidents immediately.
7. Overcome evil with good
Griffin learned quickly of how evil racism was; how the hate and prejudice ran deep for the race more than for an individual, even when he switched back to his life as a white man. He was rejected by most of his community and he was considered an exclusive lover of blacks and a hater of whites. But he had undergone the change because he wanted to better things for black people, and felt a study in racism of a country that vehemently denied it would be the best way to bring attention to the issues in the United States. Sadly, his family was bullied and mistreated as a result of his work and they had to move away from Texas, but it was inspiring how dedicated he was to living a life in another man's shoes, and how he continued to answer questions and appear at councils to try to unify communities after his experiment concluded.
*"The transformation was total & shocking. I was imprisoned in the flesh of an utter stranger, an unsympathetic one with who I felt no kinship. All traces of the John Griffin I had been were wiped from existence."
*"The laughter had to be gross or it would turn to sobs and to sob would be to realize and to realize would be to despair."
*"My deepest shock came with the gradual realization that this was not a matter of 'inconvenience' but rather a total change in living."
*"This attitude cropped up often. Many otherwise decent men & women could find no other solution. They are willing to degrade themselves to their basest levels to prevent the traditional laborer from rising in status or, to put it bluntly from 'winning,' even though what he wins has been rightfully his from the moment he was born into the human race."
*"Night coming tenderly
Black like me."
*"One can scarcely conceive the full horror of it unless one is a parent who takes a close look at his children and then asks himself how he would feel if a group of men should come to his door & tell him they had decided--- for reasons of convenience to them-- that his children's lives would henceforth be restricted, their world smaller, their educational opportunities less, their future mutilated."
*"Let us be peaceful, but the only way to do this is first to assure justice; by keeping peaceful in this instance, we end up consenting to the destruction of all peace--for so long as we condone injustice by a small but powerful group, we condone the destruction of all social stability, all real peace, & all trust in man's good intentions toward his fellow man."
4/5 (mainly because it was such heavy material and used a fair amount of language.)
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