Today I finished reading Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin. I’m thoroughly impressed by this book and think EVERYONE should read it.
The book is about how John Howard Griffin, a journalist, chemically darkened his skin in order to live as a black man in the Deep South in 1959 to find out whether or not people really care about the color of someone’s skin. He grew up in a time in which racism was omnipresent and where most white people felt that black people were inferior and had to “know their place”. He often heard white people say, “but they are different from us!” and so figured if that were true, people would have to behave towards him as a black man exactly as they would towards him as a white man, as long as he still was the same person otherwise.
To make a long story short, of course he did expose the racism that was so evident and cruel, he describes the hatred that people felt towards him for no other reason than that he was black, he writes about the degradation of having to walk for miles to find a restroom he was allowed to use, a drinking fountain he was allowed to drink from. He writes about the white men that picked him up as a hitchhiker at night to ask him all sorts of sexual questions. He also writes about the white men that actually think they aren’t racists and yet, the only time they “admit” to that is when they don’t have to fear white racists finding out about it.
The book is a very quick read and in my humble opinion a must-read for everyone. I’m sad to find that while this book is an “American classic”, while it is being read in schools, the German translation of it has been out of print for a long time. I think everyone all around the world should be reading this.