Black like Me
Inthe book, "," John Howard Griffin describeshis real life experiences and his definite opinions about variousaspects of life. Griffin addresses multiple themes in his book.However, the most significant theme he addresses is that of racialidentity. In his quest for social justice in America, Griffinpurposely gets rid of his white identity, transforming himself into ablack man. He wanted to experience the real problems and hardshipsthat the black people experienced in the United States so that hewould comprehend what life was like for blacks. Griffin knew that thewhites could not understand what it was like being a black man.Therefore, he sought to become a black person to bridge the gapbetween the whites and blacks.
Griffin`sgreat change leads him to learn more about himself. At first, whenGriffin stares at the mirror, he sees a black man and dreads feelinglike he has lost his personality as a white man. Weeks later, afterhe has endured constant oppression, poverty, and the struggles of theblacks, Griffin accepts his new self as a black person. When hestares into the mirror now, he perceives a black man with a conqueredgaze, knowing his life is full of struggles and very minimalopportunities. Griffin felt angry and sad that it was his people whooppressed and discriminated the blacks treating them as inhuman. Heviews the whites as having some kind of insanity.
Griffin’spersonal experiences as a black man were a great testimony towardsthe significance of racial identity in the society. At that time, thecolor of one’s skin determined their position in the world. Griffinexpounds on how racism had ruled the United States at that time(Griffin,2011).As a black man, he struggled to get food and shelter as well asperform any necessary activity such as sitting on a park bench orride a bus. He claims that the ghettos, where the blacks lived, werefilthy and ugly to accommodate a normal human being. The blacks livedin fear of oppression and threats of physical violence by the whiteracists.
Griffinnoticed that there was always a gap between the two races, theblacks, and whites. As a white man, he would receive respect fromother whites and fear from the black people. Conversely, as a blackman, Griffin received hostility and hatred from the white men, andkindness and warmth from the black people (Griffin,2011).The unity he experienced as a black man with the other blacks was theonly positive element he could claim in the life of the blacks.Griffin is filled with depression, confusion, and self-hatred uponthe thought of the racism that has permeated the nation.
However,even in this cruel environment filled with the evils of racism,Griffin claims that real people still exist. The wake of many whitesincluding P.D. East, and blacks such as Sterling Williams, all provethat although racism distorts the human spirit, it should not abolishman`s capability to love and be kind. John Howard used Blacklike meto encourage the United States to open its eyes. Although he receivedmultiple death threats due to this book, Griffin was sharp and ableto finish and publish it. He argues against the violence and theconservative black racist movements claiming that they would all leadto more violence and hatred. Finally, Griffin maintains that love andtolerance are the only elements that can change a society towardsgreatness.
Griffin,J. (2011). Blacklike me(1st ed.). San Antonio, Tex.: Wings Press.
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