Black like Me

Blacklike Me

Blacklike Me

JohnGriffin’s Blacklike Mewas written at a time when African-Americans lived underdiscrimination and segregation in the United States. Griffin was anative white man from Dallas but had his skin temporarily darkened topass as a black man (Griffin, 1961). Subsequently, the book narratesthe author’s experiences in the racially segregated states ofAlabama, Louisiana, Georgia, and Mississippi as he explored the lifeof the African-Americans in these regions (Griffin, 1961).

Whatdo I like about the novel ?

Griffinrarely talks about himself as his primary focus is narrating theexperiences of the African-Americans (Griffin, 1961). The book is nota just fictional story, but rather a report of factual informationbased on the personal account of Griffin as an African-American. Itis interesting that the author goes through life as a Black beforewriting about it to show the challenges these people faced. Besides,Griffin tries to make the reader understand all his experiences bymaking the audience feel as if they are undergoing the journeyalongside him (Griffin, 1961).

Whatdo I dislike about the novel?

Nonetheless,Griffin portrays a negative mentality about African-Americans. Theauthor assumes that Blacks prefer to live in poverty and undertaketerrible jobs, which most people would consider degrading (Griffin,1961).

Whatsurprised me in this novel?

However,it is remarkable that despite being a white person, Griffin took theinitiative to be a rights activist for the African-Americans.Furthermore, the author does not portray himself as the hero in thenovel. He is only focused on studying and reporting the first-handexperiences of the African-Americans in the Southern states. It isalso surprising that Christianity is increasingly used in this bookbecause religion was rarely involved in issues of racism (Griffin,1961).

Whatwould I like to know that was not covered in this novel?

Theauthor clearly shows that different races do not understand oneanother. However, the book does not give details of how these ethnicgroups will come to an agreement and end racism (Griffin, 1961).Moreover, the book does not mention the measures that other civilrights activists were using to fight racial discrimination andsegregation. For example, some writers and politicians hadincorporated racial prejudice into the South’s legal code, but thenovel does not explain how such actions affected the fight againstracism (Griffin, 1961).

Canwhat the author did be done today?

Griffindeliberately darkened his skin and spent six weeks traveling throughthe racially segregated Southern states. It was hard to understandwhat it was like to be African-American unless one was black becausethey would never open up to outsiders (Griffin, 1961). What theauthor did then is impossible in today’s world. Griffin’s actionshelped him blend in, but it might not hold any relevance today.Nowadays, the thought of a white man turning his skin black andspeaking on behalf of the African-Americans may seem like a mockeryor offensive. Despite the fact that it is not possible today,Griffin’s work remains a valuable record of the sufferings that theAfrican-Americans endured in the racially segregated America(Griffin, 1961).


Griffin,J. H. (1961). Blacklike me.Boston: Houghton Mifflin.