Black Like Me Study Guide

Black Like Me Study Guide

Original title:
Black Like Me

This story is a rare example of non-fiction that can be read exactly like a fiction book - so unlikely are the events described in it. The author of the book, the journalist John Howard Griffin makes a brave experiment (totally discarding his instinct of self-preservation, because this experiment would have been greatly disapproved by both black and white people). He darkens his skin and pretends to be black. To understand the real depths of the racial segregation, Griffin, as a black man, travels to the most affected regions of the United States like Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, to see what life looks like from the other side of the color line.

The six weeks of his life as black are vividly described in his book that resembles a diary of a scientist exploring the uncharted regions of the planet. This diary caused a real wave of shock, disbelieve and repulsion from the readers, who refused to see the problem and even recognize the black people as real and equal people. Griffin tried to live just an average white man, but the obstacles he met were absolutely unexpected. From the lack of access to the public toilets to the great disapproval from both black and white passengers of the bus when he tried to give his seat to a white lady - the change of skin demanded from the journalist the complete change of habits and behaviour. Even his close friends, who talked to him a lot before, who knew his voice and style of speaking, didn’t recognize him just because Griffin was black.

This book puts to light all the hypocrisy and bigotry of the society of that times. Still, despite lots of negative reviews, Griffin received many letters of support and the issues got more attention from the government. Now this book is a must read one, because we, as modern people, shall understand what privileges we have now, independent of our skin color, race, sex and age. We shall understand the way of thinking of our ancestors - good people in general, who just couldn’t imagine that some other people are people too - and never repeat their mistakes.

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