Themes In Black Like Me

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In the book Black Like Me, the three main themes that John Howard Griffin stress are identity, race, and white supremacy. The story begins with a naïve Griffin deciding to pose as a black man in the Deep South to study the living conditions, civil rights, and overall life of black people in the late 1950s. He does this as a black man instead of a white one to get the truth out of black people and not the censored version they usually give and to witness it firsthand. Griffin originally underestimates the oppression of black people, but he will soon find out the harsh realities of black racism and inequality. As he begins the experiment, he questions his identity during his transition from a white man to a black man and acknowledges this change in identity in the lines: “I had expected to see myself disguised, but this was something else. I was imprisoned in the flesh of an utter stranger, an unsympathetic one with whom I felt no kinship. All traces of the John Griffin I had been were wiped…show more content…
He is eye-balled everywhere he goes by white people, denied voting rights, and couldn’t even cash a check without any hassle from employees. In a conversation between Griffin and his new peers about equal job opportunities one man says “Many sincerely think the Negro, because of his very Negroness, could not possibly measure up to white standards in work performance. I read recently where one of them said that equality of education and job opportunity would be an even greater tragedy for us. He said it would quickly prove to us that we can’t measure up—disillusion us by showing us that we are , in fact, inferior” (Griffin 40). This quote reinforces the idea that white people try to engrain the belief that black people should not and cannot ever be equal to “the man” in society and they use racist propaganda to do
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