May 9, 2012
Black Like Me
Black Like Me is a non-fiction book written by John Howard Griffin about what a black, middle-aged man has to go through every day in the Deep South. To find out what it is like to be a Negro, Griffin changes his skin color to that of a black. During his experiences, Griffin keeps a journal and that is what this book is. Black Like Me is a journal of Griffin's feelings, experiences, pains, and friends. The setting of Black Like Me is intensely important. The setting starts out on October 28, 1959 in Mansfield, Texas. The setting in Black Like Me is so important because if the setting is any other place than the Southern United States then the plot is completely different. If the setting is in the north, then the issue of racism is not known. After getting the support of his wife and of George Levitan, the editor of a black-oriented magazine called Sepia which will fund Griffin's experience in return for an article about it, Griffin sets out for New Orleans to begin his life as a black man. He finds a person in the black community; an articulate shoe-shiner named Sterling Williams, and begins a dermatological regimen of exposure to ultraviolet light, oral medication, and skin dyes. Eventually, Griffin looks in the mirror and sees a black man looking back. He panics, feeling that he has lost his identity, but he doesn’t let his feelings interfere with his experiment and he sets out to explore the black community. He expects to find prejudice, oppression, and hardship, but he is shocked at the extent of it. Everywhere he goes, he experiences difficulties and insults. The word "nigger" seems to be heard from every street corner. It is impossible to find a job, or even a restroom that blacks are allowed to use. Clerks refuse to cash his checks, and he gets bullied by a white man who nearly attacks him before he chases the man away. After several traumatic days in New Orleans, Griffin...