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Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin

I cannot really remember how or where I came by this book, Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin. Now, the method of his experiment may be subject to criticism, however, I remembered being told by my mother about a white man who pretended to be black and people were rude and unkind to him because they thought he was black. I recall, even as a young child, thinking this made no sense. Of course, I was being raised on the liberal West Coast of California, not in the deep South of the USA.


The Blurb


In the autumn of 1959, a white Texan journalist named John Howard Griffin travelled across the Deep South of the United States disguised as a working-class black man. Black Like Me is Griffin's own account of his journey.


Published in book form two years later it sold over five million copies, revealed to a white audience the daily experience of racism and became one of the best-known accounts of racial injustice in Jim Crow-era America. Embraced by some and fiercely criticised by others, its legacy sixty years on remains problematic, but Black Like Me nevertheless stands as a fascinating document of its times.

The Review


John Howard Griffin was a white American journalist who is best known for his book "Black Like Me" . In this he details the experience of darkening his skin and travelling as a black man through through the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia in 1959. The racism that he encountered was so disturbing that he cut short the time he had allotted for this experiment.


John Howard Griffin took a radical stand against racism. Much of the white community at the time vilified him for it. His entire book was a marvelous sociological and journalistic investigation of relations between the races in the South in the 50s and 60s. It answered some questions , for example how did racist Christians justify their racism? The answer the author came up with was often racism hides under the guise of patriotism. The book also educates the reader on many key members of the civil rights movement.


The author makes the point that race has no scientifically proven bearing on intelligence or morality; it is the structure of the society we live in that makes us the person we are.

Racism was a big problem in the South. Still, I shocked to read how pervasive it was and what extreme forms it took. The fact that the white author could barely survive 6 weeks as a black man shows how demoralizing it must have been to live as a black person then. I also wonder how much things have truly changed.

The Author


John Howard Griffin was a white American journalist who is best known for his account, Black Like Me, in which he details the experience of darkening his skin and traveling as a black man through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia in 1959. (The racism that he encountered was so disturbing that he cut short the time that he had allotted for this very unique experiment, clearly demonstrating that no one would tolerate being treated as many blacks are, if he or she could possibly avoid it.)

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