Chris's Reviews > Black Like Me

Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
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Nov 10, 2011

it was amazing
Read in November, 2011

This book was widely read in high schools when I was student at the end of the 1960s. Many of my friends read it, and I may have read parts of it---I certainly heard lots about it---but I decided to revisit Griffin's account of passing for an African American man in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi for six weeks in 1959. Griffin's experience is chilling---and saddening---to read because it lays bear the ugly heart of racism. Though less personal, the epilogue he added to the edition I read (in 1968 or 1969, I think) shows how complicated racism was and is. Shortly after the publication of his book, Griffin became a widely sought-after speaker on race issues, but he soon learned that he was a preferred speaker because he was white. His insight into and messages about racism didn't differ from those of his African American contemporaries, but white audiences trusted him because he was white. When he recognized this sad irony, he stopped speaking about the topic and instead referred African American speakers to take his place.

There's a good article in the October 2011 issue of The Smithsonian that calls attention to Griffin and this book on its 50th anniversary: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-cu...

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Nancy I did a huge report on this book my senior year of high school.


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