Black Like Me begins when John Howard Griffin decides that he wants to dye his skin black so that he can see and experience what a black adult male experiences. He leaves his household for New Orleans, where he obtains the medical specialty and dyes to get down the procedure of altering his tegument colour. During his clip in New Orleans, Griffin observes that there are few chances for inkinesss ; it is difficult to happen a topographic point to eat. Later, Griffin takes a coach to Mississippi, where people say that it is the worst province for a black adult male to be in. On the coach, the other inkinesss give him some advice about the etiquette that blacks must follow inside Mississippi boundary lines. For illustration, “ ‘You do n’t desire to even look at a white adult female. In fact, you look down at the land or the other manner ‘ ” ( 61 ) . When he arrives, he stays with a friend named P.D. East, who is a white journalist that is sympathetic to the black cause. Griffin so hitchhikes along the main road to Mobile, Alabama. The white work forces who offer to give Griffin drives make him uncomfortable as they portray “ the Negro as an unlimited sex-machine with outsize genitalias and a huge shop of experiences ” ( 87 ) .
Then, Griffin ends up busing to Montgomery, where he decides to “ seek to go through back into white society ” . He instantly notices a difference as he is treated politely by a waitress at a eating house. He so goes to Atlanta, where he additions hope that alteration is possible. His journey comes to a stopping point as Griffin resumes his white individuality for the last clip. The balance of the novel describes the wake of Griffin ‘s trip. He is interviewed by several well-known talk show hosts. However, this disclosure of his journey cholers many people in his hometown and they hang Griffin in image in the chief street. Yet, Griffin receives six 1000 letters, most of them from Whites in the Deep South, which were supportive. This confirms his theory that most people in the South conceal what they truly think about inkinesss from their neighbours.
Griffin ‘s intent for composing Black Like Me was rather simple. He was dumbfounded by the racial state of affairs nowadays in the Deep South-no 1 was turn toing the great divide between inkinesss and white ; people merely stood back and watched the state of affairs continue to decline. This prompted Griffin to take the first enterprise and travel through the South as a adult male with black tegument. He chronicled his experiences into this novel to demo what the black adult male truly feels like beneath his outside of niceness and courtesy that he puts up in forepart of members of the white race. He wanted to expose the debasement that inkinesss feel when they walk in a public topographic point ; he wanted to see for himself how deprived the black people truly were and non believe what the white adult male says. Griffin aimed to demo others what was truly traveling on behind the white people ‘s ignorance. He voiced his sentiments to others of both his ain race and the black race in order to do others cognizant of the take downing state of affairs that inkinesss are in mundane. He endured the hatred stares and racial slurs from Whites in order to bridge the spread between white and black.
Griffin was a white journalist who lived in Texas and was sympathetic to the inkinesss and their cause as he wrote for the black magazine Sepia. Through his journey as a adult male with black tegument, Griffin witnessed things from the black adult male ‘s position. Since he was white, he besides saw things through the white adult male ‘s eyes. Therefore, Griffin was non biased to one peculiar race ; he can be considered to be a go-between of kinds. His positions of both Whites and inkinesss did non prefer either side. Griffin besides called himself a “ racial specializer ” and therefore, had some background before shiping on the unsafe journey. His sentiments and observations were drawn from his interactions with Whites and inkinesss in the deep South and partially from his anterior cognition about racial issues. Griffin ‘s journalist background besides allowed him to accurately define the black state of affairs in the South without being excessively sympathetic.
There are several noteworthy citations in Black Like Me. One is, “ When all the talk, all the propaganda has but cut off, the standard is nil but the colour of tegument. My experience proved that. They judged me by no other quality. My tegument was dark. That was sufficient ground for them to deny me those rights and freedoms without which life loses its significance and becomes a affair of little more than animate being endurance ” ( 114 ) . This illustrates the white individual ‘s motive behind his/her suppression of inkinesss ; skin colour is the lone factor that comes into drama. Griffin is indicating out that inkinesss feel hopeless when they see themselves being labeled as inferior over a simple judgement. Another of import citation in the novel is, “ Nothing can depict the shriveling horror of [ the hatred stare ] . You feel lost, ill at bosom before such unmasked hatred, non so much because it threatens you as because it shows worlds in such an cold visible radiation ” ( 54 ) . Most, if non all, inkinesss know what the “ hatred stare ” is and they realize that this is another portion of their suppression. The “ hatred stare ” makes inkinesss experience vulnerable and it about makes them experience pathetic towards Whites, who are “ worlds in such an cold visible radiation ” .
In add-on, Griffin speculates that “ as in everything else, the ambiance of a topographic point is wholly different for Negro and white. The Negro sees and reacts otherwise non because he is Negro, but because he is suppressed. Fear dims even the sunshine ” ( 101 ) . Griffin believes that the ground inkinesss are different from Whites is because the Whites are stamp downing inkinesss so that they can non hold entree to basic necessities like nutrient or a bathroom. This leads the black race to make whatever it is that they need to last, whether it is through a legitimate or illegal manner. Finally, Griffin states, “ I was the same adult male, whether white or black. Yet when I was white, I received the brotherly-love smilings and the privileges from Whites and the hatred stares or servility from the Negroes. And when I was a Negro, the white judged me tantrum for the debris pile, while Negroes treated me with great heat ” ( 124 ) . This shows that white people were racist during the late fiftiess through the sixtiess, as Griffin suspected from the beginning. If your tegument was black, so you were automatically degraded and considered a low member in society by Whites. But if your tegument was white, so you were considered equal. These of import citations show how awful and misconstrued the racism issue was in the Deep South during that clip period.