Black Like Me By John Howard Griffin Essay

2472 Words Nov 4th, 2014 10 Pages
Black Like Me is a work of non-fiction written by John Howard Griffin following his observations of white racism towards blacks in the Deep South of the 1950s. Griffin, a white journalist living in Mansfield, Texas, uses medication to darken his skin color and temporarily forfeits his privileged life as a Southern white man for the disenfranchised world of a jobless black man.

When Griffin first looks in the mirror following the darkening of his skin, he is horrified at the image that stares back at him. He feels that he has forever lost his identity and that he is now “imprisoned in the flesh of an utter stranger”, [and] one with whom he feels no kinship.” It is here that Griffin admits to his own racism, perhaps in the hope that readers will identify and begin to confront their own denial of prejudice. After recovering from the initial shock posed by such a dramatic change in appearance, Griffin realizes that he must, despite his current wishes, act like a Negro to minimize suspicion from the whites.

During his six weeks disguised as a black man, Griffin learns to deal with “the hate stare” by rightly convincing himself that he has done nothing to offend or hurt anyone, and that the disapproving looks he has been receiving are simply because of his color.

The author’s thesis is that the Negroes need to learn to overcome their lack of unity and work together in order to break free from the constraints placed on them by white society. The idea of racial unity and the…

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