Griffin's Transformation In Black Like Me

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John Howard Griffin is the author of the nonfiction book entitled, Black Like Me. While Griffin is most famously known for this book he has also been the author of other works, such as The Devil Rides Outside, Land of the High Sky, and The Church and the Black Man. In 1959, John Howard Griffin decided to get a firsthand account of what being black was like in the southern parts of the United States. Griffin himself is a white man living through the racial segregation happening in the 1950s, but feels he needs to become a black person in appearance to adequately experience life from an African American point of view. “How else except by becoming a Negro could a white man hope to learn the truth?” (1). This somewhat twisted premise will become…show more content…
Griffin decides to partner with Sepia magazine, who will publish what he went through while living as a black man. This fascinating idea was meant to show the spectrum of things that are different when living as a black man versus a white man. His transformation includes medication and light to make his appearance look authentic. Not only is his transformation physical, it’s also mental. Griffin stands in the mirror to look at himself after his skin color is changed. “No, the reflections led back to Africa, back to the shanty and the ghetto, back to the fruitless struggles against the mark of blackness. Suddenly almost with no mental preparation, no advance hint, it became clear and permeated my whole being” (10, 11). Griffin travels throughout the south in places like New Orleans, Mississippi, Alabama, and Atlanta. The purpose of his travels are to give a range of events to experience. He finds that simple pleasures like sitting on benches, ordering a soft drink, or riding public transportation, are off limits to him now that he is seen as a black man. Almost anywhere he goes, there are echoes of the word “nigger”. He sees how he is treated as being totally dependent on the color of his skin. As a white man he is left alone by other white people and black people avoid him out of fear. As a black man, he is offered help by other black people, but whites are very cautious of his presence. While under the disguise of a black man he is constantly in danger, being followed by white people while alone at night. “I did not answer, did not turn. He stalked me like a cat. Cars passed occasionally. I prayed that a police car might choose this street” (34). It seems that Griffin wants to publish moments like this to show the black community that there are white people ready to stand with them and are willing to make sacrifices as
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