Black Like Me
John Howard Griffin
By Melody Dudley
1)"Children have to be taught such filth"
He was right children are very open, understanding, and nonjudgmental, it's the parents that teach them to hate another based on their pigment.
2) "I want to do research on how blacks are treated in the deep south, and I'm going to change my pigment and live among them and publish my research."
I thought it was a great idea, but in the 1950's it's like signing your own death certificate especially since he was going to .
3) "I went to the drugstore where the same girl that had talked to me all week didn't even recognize me."
His medicine to darken his pigment was working, its crazy that back in the 50's they even bothered making pills like that.
4) "She unhesitatingly agreed that if I felt I must do it then I must."
She must have a lot of faith in her husband, and very understanding for her to agree to such a weird request for that time. She had to live as a single wife during the project.
5)"In a moment she hurled my change and bus ticket back at me most falling off the counter to my feet."
The ticket seller was very rude because of his color, she gave him a hard time from the minute he got threw the door, he stayed calm and even thanked her on the way out, I think that takes a strong person.
6) "Her Performance was so venomous, I felt sorry for her." (ticket seller)
It takes a very mature person to walk away from such a situation and actually feel bad for the "bully"."
7) "I cant believe he's taking our bathroom privileges away!"
The bus driver didn't want to wait on blacks so he wouldn't even let them off the bus while the whites used the restroom. You'd think those rights would be protected they paid the same fair as everyone else.
8) "We don't cash travelers checks."
The same women just cashed one for a white man but they believe blacks steal them for a quick buck.
9) "The southern negro cant tell the white man the truth."
Its sad they have to chose their words carefully so they wont offend another that can easily get them in trouble.
10) 'Ill keep the same i.d just change my pigment if someone asks what I'm doing ill tell them the truth."
Its bad enough he's pretending to be black let alone be truthful whites would beat him so fast he wouldn't know what hit him.
The theme of the book was racism in the deep south. The whole book was examples of how a white man pretending to be black without people know was treated. He became a black man from the south who faced racism everywhere he went. He wanted to see how blacks were really treated. One thing he didn't think about was simply finding a restroom, café, or just a fountain to drink from, he always had to walk across town or miles down the road to find a place for colored people to go. Another thing was simply walking to his hotel at night he found himself being chased by a young boy just to scare him like it was a game. I think he was successful but wasn't prepared for how physically and mentally stressful it was going to be, and made a great story out of his experiences.
Black Like Me was a great book made from John Howard Griffins personal journal entries while experiencing what life was like for a black man living in the deep south. In order for John to go through with such a dangerous project he had to change his pigment, so he took pills to darken his skin, shaved his head, and try to get by undetected and safely get the information needed to release an article on his journey.
I think his experiment was a success, but John wasn't ready for what he had to experience from harsh stares ,remarks, getting chased, even being told when and where he can use the restroom. He was able to make friends and witness how the blacks were remarkably helpful to one another. He experienced this many times like when he first came to town a man helped him find a safe place to stay and a boy offered to walk 4 miles out of his way to make sure he found a movie theater. In the end he realized how physically and mentally draining the treatment was and felt sorry for both blacks and whites. When he came out with the story people were furious and literally threatened his familys life and had to move to Mexico for their safety.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in American racism in the 1950's, and want to know the truth on how brutal the treatment really was.