Black Like Me: Reflection #3
"For years it was my embarrassing task to sit in on the meetings of whites and blacks, to serve one ridiculous but necessary function: I knew, and every black man there knew, that I, as a man now white once again, could say the things that needed saying but would be rejected if black men said them...for the simple reason that white men could not tolerate hearing them from a black person's mouth" (Griffin 177).
John Howard Griffin pivoted in and out of an African American life for no more than 2 years, yet he was called upon to speak for the blacks on problems they have suffered their whole life. At lectures, Griffin is respected and praised for telling the truth, something that would not be accepted if the same words came out of an African American's mouth. The whites see it as "submitting" their superiority to the blacks if they (believe it or not) actually listened and took opinions from a colored man, an idea they are not comfortable with. Therefore, they place Griffin in a uncomfortable position where he tells the white men exactly what the black men would have said. In other words, he becomes a bridge between white and black communities and speaks on their behalf. From these experiences, Griffin is able to solidify his belief that whites are largely prejudiced towards blacks; in fact, they would rather hear a testimony from a relatively inexperienced white man, than have to suffer the humiliation of hearing the same testimony an African American. The credibility of a person's word depended wholly on their pigmentation, and in this case, a colored person's opinion was questioned, critisized, and rejected. Unfortunately, this was just another instance of racial discrimination.
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