Black Like Me

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Enri Duka
A.P. United States History
Ms. Bellemare, Ms. Loughlin, Mr. Marko
08/09/2012
Analyzation of “Black Like Me”

Catastrophic events are a part of life just like the air that people breathe. Most of these catastrophes occur as a result of nature’s causes such as earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, and etc. Unfortunately they kill millions of people every year. As painful as this is to hear, most people still disregard the amount of people that are killed and massacred every year due to race and religion. It is sad to think that instead of working together to build a better future, humans still fight and have social injustice. Many like to argue this statement seeing how the constitution forbids human inequality in front of the law. As true as this might be, discrimination still exists and is a part in our lives to this day. “Black Like Me” is a perfect example of this social crime.

Unlike many other books, “Black Like Me”, is written in an autobiographical memoir instead of a novel. The author, also being the main protagonist, is John Howard Griffin. The book takes place between the years of 1959 and 1960 and is build with chapters according to the different dates that main concepts occur. The reason for this book is to portray the horrors that segregation has to offer. Griffin starts his unbelievable adventure because of the curiosity and sympathy that he feels towards blacks. In order to quench his curiosity, Griffin believes that he has to be black as well and the only way is by undergoing surgery. He first proposes his idea to George Levitan and Adele Jackson, the owner and editor of Sepia magazine and asks them to publish his article. Although passionate and supportive of Griffin they warn him about the dangers that he will face when and after he is a black man. John Howard Griffin goes through a period of internal conflict for he is aware of the dangers imposed on a black man during these years of segregation. Also, he is afraid for his family because of all the white racists who will try to harm them once they realize that a white man was disguised as a black. However, Griffin decides to follow through with the plan. In the book, he compares the situation of segregation to the years when he was partially blind. Griffin believes that white people are blind for they can not see through the eyes of a black man.

John Griffin’s passion and sympathy for the social injustice applied on blacks overcome his fear of danger so he moves to New Orleans and is given medicine so he can turn black. On the process of becoming black, he is very surprised to see how an educated and liberal man such as a doctor could speak so poorly of the black race. As a matter of fact, this theme keeps on reoccurring throughout the whole novel. In a very short period of time he notices the differences between the two races. Instead of eating at a fancy restaurant like the previous day, now he is eating raccoon meat and rice out of a can. The difference between the two races is staggering as well as painful to see for Griffin. Not only is he denied a job by white employers; he is also hit with fruit by a group of white people, denied the right to bring in checks, and is humiliated by bus drivers who do not stop the bus at his destination just because of his color. The most important part of all these tragedies is the fact that even Griffin views himself differently. He begins to despise himself and other blacks for the pains that are being caused to him. Just like the blacks in New Orleans, Mississippi, and Alabama, he feels defeated and hopeless. Fortunately Griffin undergoes some good experiences as a black man. Although he is despised and hated by most whites; he still feels warm from the love and support that black people show for each other. There are even some whites who help him throughout his career as a black man. One of these helpers happens to be a good friend of Griffin and his name is P.D. East. This...
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