Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin Analysis

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John Howard Griffin’s book “Black Like Me” highlights the lack of understanding between white and black individuals. Through specific instances, he depicts racism existing on both sides. During his hitchhiking journey through Mississippi, Griffin experiences intense racism targeted at black individuals by white individuals.

The curiosity of white people regarding Griffin’s sex life stemmed from their perception that it differed from their own. Griffin found himself taken aback by these inquiries, as he had never encountered such rumors about the sexual experiences of black individuals. Additionally, a separate section in the book highlights the incomprehension of white communities towards why black individuals opted to stay in towns lacking essential amenities like stores, washrooms, and job prospects. When posed with this query, a black person would likely attribute their decision to persist in the struggle for desegregation and equality.

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Understanding this situation would be challenging for the majority of white men. The white community strongly opposed the presence of black individuals in their town. The ignorance or lack of comprehension among white people becomes apparent when Griffin requests to disembark at his designated stop on the bus. Nevertheless, the bus driver declines, explaining that he cannot keep the door open throughout the entire night.

The driver’s disrespectful behavior stemmed directly from his impatience in traffic, which greatly frustrated Griffin. Despite feeling tired at the time, he found it difficult to contain his anger towards the bus driver. Reflecting on this incident later in his journal, Griffin realizes that it was the sole intentional act of cruelty he encountered while using city buses in New Orleans. He suspects racism played a role as the bus driver seemed to deny the humanity of black people.

Black Like Me depicts instances of racism against whites by blacks, albeit to a lesser extent and with less overt expressions than the whites. These examples highlight a genuine sense of misunderstanding. One particular occurrence of black-on-white racism is a result of the black character’s long-term mistreatment by whites. Griffin encounters a man attempting to sell turkeys from his car.

According to Griffin, the man spoke to him while disregarding the presence of the white man. However, one of the white men showed sympathy towards the man’s misfortune and poverty. In an effort to demonstrate that not all white men are terrible, this individual decided to assist the man by purchasing all of the turkeys at a high price.

The black man shows hesitation, seemingly due to fear and dislike towards white individuals. He finds it perplexing that a white person would want to purchase items from him, such as ten turkeys. The black man opts to avoid a white individual who offers assistance, unknowingly offending the white person. However, it is not uncommon for a white individual to reject a black person.

This becomes evident when Griffin, the author, walks through the same streets he traversed as a black person and receives hostile glances from black individuals who think, “you white bastard, you ofay sonofabitch, what are you doing walking these streets?” Griffin himself disliked the town of Montgomery both as a black person and now as a white person; he recognizes the equality in its mistreatment.

While in Montgomery, the author contemplates whether it is worthwhile to reveal the hidden reality behind each race’s façade. Both races demonstrate uncooperativeness regardless of assurances from whites about granting equal rights or attempts by blacks to improve their already negative perception among whites.

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Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin Analysis. (2018, Apr 18). Retrieved from

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