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Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
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Black Like Me (1960)

by John Howard Griffin

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2,862502,023 (3.99)80
  1. 10
    The magnolia jungle; the life, times, and education of a southern editor by P. D. East (Cecrow)
  2. 10
    Lowest of the Low by Günter Wallraff (edwinbcn)
    edwinbcn: Similar partcicipating observation large scale undercover operations, disclosing racism in Europe and the US, respectively. Classic studies with a huge impact.
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A well written classic, very thought provoking. Someone should re-do this experiment. Easy to listen to. ( )
  JBP11 | Nov 18, 2016 |
a must a book my dad loved and a book that I later read and loved as well . ( )
  jsnickola | Nov 12, 2016 |
For anyone who would think, "If I were black, I would do this or that," this book is an eye-opener. During the summer of 2016, I was contemplating the media attention on police-involved shootings of black people (particularly men). I kept hearing from one sid the message of "Just follow the directions of officers and this would not have happened," or something like that. I began pondering what I would do in that situation and came to the realization that I had no clue what I would do. It is easy to say that I would do something, but given the improbability (more likely impossibility) of that happening, it is pompous theorizing. As it happened, I ran across this book at a book store and picked it up.

It fascinated me that a white man would venture into the black world to see for himself what would happen. He did this in the late 1950s, a time of great tension over racial equality. Griffin had heard the mantra, "We don't judge people by their color; we judge them by their character and actions." So he decided (agains the advice of many) to put that mantra to the test. He consulted a dermatoligist to take medication that would darken his skin and make him appear black. He altered nothing else about who he was (other than shave his head to eliminate his "white" hair). He kept his name, clothes, etc. He quickly realized that the world judged him as a black man. The most agonizing part of this journey was that he judged himself by the color of his skin. He notes that the first time that he looked in to the mirror as a "black" man, he hated himself. Here was a man who by all accounts was very forward-thinking on the issue of racial equality, feeling a sense of disgust at his own appearance.

Through the book, the reader is taken on this journey from New Orleans to Mississippi to Atlanta and back as the man encountered anything but being judged on his merits. He then on a few occassions slipped back and forth between being white and black (based on the dosage of medication and sun exposure) to test his findings.

This book is a powerful reminder that still today, we often judge people by the most superficial of all physical characteristics (skin color). ( )
  w_bishop | Sep 22, 2016 |
A profound message. Emotionally charged. It's a reality check for those who are not of color. Yes, people of color go through this, but there's a big difference between the author's experiences and actually being Black: all day, every day, the author knows the makeup will come off at the end of the day. ( )
  BonitaMartin | Jun 24, 2016 |
I found this book fascinating! I apologize to all but I purposely read it slowly. I wanted to clearly understand the words and scenarios depicted in this book. I find it fascinating that one human being would treat another this way simply because of the color of his or her skin. What I found even more interesting was the aftermath of wht John Howard Griffin had to go through after his experiment. Because of what he did, he had to invest in security for his family, his parents moved to Mexico for a better life. And yes folks, we are describing America, Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.

So, for those of you that are not planning to read this book and in addition to the comments made by Siriradha's and Choclaholic's previous posts, this is a story about how John Howard Griffin being the bravest man on earth. He takes medication to turn himself black and then take a brief tour through the southland, Louisiana, Missisippi, Alabama and Georgia. He gets a taste of what blacks in that time period face day to day. He writes it all down. His experiences are fascinating. Most fascinating is how the young are taught prejudism(did I spell that right?)to move on to the next generation.

I guess that only time will heal all wounds and get us over the hump. I look at how things are today and although there have been improvements, we still have a long way to go. Look at today's elections for example, the candidates are looking to secure the "black" vote or in my case, the "Hispanic" vote. Why not just "All Votes" or "The Votes". I think you can take the premises of what John Howard Griffin wrote in this book and apply it to all things that separate us. Race, Religion, sexual orientation and even geographical location are factors in treating people differently. Think about it. Because of politics half the world hates us "arrogant Americans". I can just picture someone on the other side of the world formulating an opinion about me because of where I live.

What I learned from this book, is that at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter. We are all the same. The question is, how much death, how much suffering will we, as homo sapiens, have to go through to realize that we are all the same. John Howard Griffin's work begs for a number. Lets get to that number if we have to and move on to treating each other better and getting past this poor thinking. After his experience was even more chilling because he thought that predjudism was mostly located in the deep south of America. He was astonished to find out that it was not so. He was saddened that even in his own town in Texas, where he thought people would be a bit more educated, was not what he thought it was.

I would recommend this book to all. It is interesting, well written and very controversial. Most of all, the book challenges the reader to think. If you are looking for bubble gum literature, this is not it. It will give your mind a good work out!

Flyinfox ( )
  DVerdecia | Jan 29, 2016 |
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Epigraph
Rest at pale evening... A tall slim tree... Night coming tenderly... Black like me. --From "Dream Variation" Langston Hughes
Dedication
First words
"This may not be all of it. It may not cover all of the questions, but it is what it is like to be a Negro in a land where we keep the Negro down." - preface
"For years the idea had haunted me, and that night it returned more insistently than ever."
Quotations
"The most obscene figures are not the ignorant ranting racists, but the legal minds who front for them, who invent for them the legislative proposals and the propoganda bulletins. They deliberately choose to foster distortions, always under the guise of patriotism, upon a people who have no means of checking the facts."
"He cannot understand how the white man can show the most demeaning aspects of his nature and at the same time delude himself into thinking he is inherently superior."
"I learned within a very few hours that no one was judging me by my qualities as a human individual and everyone was judging me by my pigment."
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Book description
Haiku summary
Some drugs and makeup
Transform a white man to black
To learn of racism.
(yoyogod)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451208641, Paperback)

In the Deep South of the 1950s, journalist John Howard Griffin decided to cross the color line.  Using medication that darkened his skin to deep brown, he exchanged his privileged life as a Southern white man for the disenfranchised world of an unemployed black man.  His audacious, still chillingly relevant eyewitness history is a work about race and humanity-that in this new millennium still has something important to say to every American.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:29 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"In the Deep South of the 1950s, a color line was etched in blood across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. Journalist John Howard Griffin decided to cross that line. Using medication that darkened his skin to deep brown, he exchanged his privileged life as a Southern white man for the disenfranchised world of an unemployed black man. What happened to John Howard Griffin-- from the outside and within himself-- as he made his way through the segregated Deep South is recorded in this searing work of nonfiction"--Back cover.… (more)

» see all 12 descriptions

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