Friday, April 08, 2022

Book Report: "Black Like Me"

Black Like MeBlack Like Me by John Howard Griffin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While some aspects of John Howard Griffin's methods are ethically and logistically questionable, his goals and storytelling ability are unimpeachable.

Allegedly disguising himself as a Black man in 1959 in order to explore racial injustices in the Deep South, Griffin's travelogue is beautiful, insightful and powerful. His work set the stage for a decade of cultural revolution.

Remarkably brave, though alarmingly insensitive by today's standards, Griffin's social experiment paid off grandly while exacting a significant personal sacrifice.

It is hard for me to believe that a cocktail of drugs, UV exposure and makeup convincingly transformed Griffin's appearance from white to Black. But his heart was clearly in the right place, and the book that resulted was an admirable work of empathy that no doubt managed to change hearts and minds of the mid-20th century. The spirit of his effort lives on today.

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