Black Like Me

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In 1959, John Howard Griffin, a white man from Texas, did an experiment. He darkened his skin using drugs and a sun lamp to pass for a black man. He then toured Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana by buses and hitchhiking. Griffin recorded his experiences in his book Black Like Me, first published in 1961 (Karr). This was a positive experiment because by publishing his experiences it crossed racial lines and made Caucasian people, as well as African Americans, rethink their views. Griffin was born and raised in Mansfield, Texas and in 1969, he persuaded Sepia Magazine to finance and publish an experiment where he toured the southern states disguised as an African-American (Karr). He started his experiment in New Orleans, where he found a dermatologist who would help transform him into an African-American using the drug Methoxsalen, as well as sun lamps and dye (Griffin, 2-7). While in New Orleans, Griffin sees the impact and effect of racism, first hand. He goes to look for a job as a very well-dressed black man but no white man will hire him (Griffin, 40). Griffin also gets kicked out of non-segregated areas by white people and gets degrading glares from Caucasians (Griffin, 45). At that time, Mississippi had a reputation of being the most racist and the hardest place for African-Americans to live in the United States, so Griffin travelled there next. Griffin encountered many different types of people as he toured Mississippi and Alabama. Some Caucasian people were against how blacks were treated while others had enough sympathy to pick up African- American people as they hitchhiked but only wanted information about their sex life (Griffin, 88-99). Griffin’s experience wasn’t all negative as he sees some African-American people who do the best with what little they have. For example in Atlanta a group of people created financing for black people to buy homes because the banks would not lend any money to African Americans (Griffin, 149-150). After...
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