Student ID: 1107396
Race and Ethnicity in America
April 21, 2013
Black Like Me
For the book report, I read the book Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin. The story takes place in 1959 and revolves around a white man who decides to go to the Deep South undercover as a black man to try to understand what really goes on there. This man, John Griffin, documented his journey from beginning to end in order to make an effort to end racial segregation. For seven weeks, he lived and experienced the horrors that a black man lived every day during that time. He quickly learned that he no longer had the same privileges as he did as a white man. He could no longer go into any store he wanted and had to walk miles before finding someone who would let him buy a glass of water or to use the bathroom. Reading this book, my eyes were opened to all the disadvantages the black man faced that I always heard about in school, but never really understood.
John Griffin moved away from his home and family in Mansfield, Texas to New Orleans, Louisiana to conduct his research. His motivation was for racial justice and for his frustration of not understanding the black experience. At this time, no black man in his right mind would tell a white man how horrible life was for him. Since Griffin was a white man, interviewing blacks would not give him a true picture of their life. He decides to go with the only way he will truly find out what it’s like to be a black in the South; to change the color of his skin. He went through different medical treatments to accomplish this. To change his skin color from white to black, he took pills to darken his skin, and also used skin dyes. He then could easily pass through New Orleans' streets as a 'Negro'. He befriended a shoeshine who had been shining his exact same shoes when he was a white man. The shoeshine is delighted with Griffin's project and opens the life of a black man up to...