Black Like Me is about a middle aged white man living in Texas in the late 50’s and early 60’s. He is deeply committed to the cause of racial injustice. He decides to temporarily become a black man and sets out to explore the racial injustice a African American deals with on a daily basis. After this experiment he realizes that racism is a result of social condition, and not any inherent quality within blacks or whites. He pleads for tolerance and understanding between the races.
The author and main character is John Howard Griffin, He writes about his experience as he travels around southern America after dying his skin black. He tells us how he gets treated as an African American. He wanted to experience firsthand the injustices and hardships black people had to struggle through and their experience of life. As he continues his journey he starts switching back and forth between races and comes to the conclusion that the races don’t understand each other at all and the need to start tolerating each other.
When he begins to alter back and forth between races he notices immediately that when he’s white almost everyone treats him with respect but the blacks treat him with fear and suspiciousness. When he is black, the African Americans treat him with warmth and generosity while white people treat him with hostility and contempt.
How the black people unite with solidarity is one of the only good things that Griffin experiences as a black man. It keeps on leaves him depressed and confused. Nevertheless the important theme of the story is that even in an environment defined by racism there are good people out there. Racism cannot overcome or destroy the human capacity for kindness and at the end of the day love and tolerance are the only catalysts capable of changing society for the better.
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