All men are created equal… or are they? John Griffin’s “Black Like Me” shows how racism is nothing more then the foolish misunderstanding of man. White’s current superiority hangs in the balance as Blacks become tired of being the minority, in the late 1950’s. Even though this struggle isn’t as dreadful as it was then, it still exists. The certainty of racism can’t be ignored but it will soon disappear as generations mix. Racial discrepancies challenge the unity of human civilization.
John Griffin had a biting curiosity which he could no longer stand. What was life truly like, for a black man in the deep south? He sought the real answer to this by darkening his skin with extreme amounts of medication. A new skin color determines everything and John is now thrown into a new world that he was in no way prepared for. He was no longer John, an average but respected white novelist, he was a black man and that is all that mattered. Simple pleasers like a drink of water or the use of a restroom become near impossible.
John, at first was puzzled by this, but soon realized that it was not his personality, his age, but his blackness that made him a disgrace in the eyes of an average white person. If he were white, a white store owner would have not hesitated in the slightest to allow such privileges. How could these people be so blind as to not see that a black person breathes the same air, eats the same food, and has the same internal functions as themselves? This misunderstanding stares them in the face and they can’t see it. Their selfishness and fear is completely unnecessary but it remains because the whites have never been exposed to any other way of life. This is why the whites can not allow such common privileges to Mr. Griffin or any other black person. To treat a black as an equal was absolutely unheard of.
Fatigued from rejection and many actions which would be declared unconstitutional, the blacks must do something so their future generations do not suffer the same. This desire for action only stirs a greater terror within the (racist) white community. People like, Martin Luther King Jr. begin to surface. He and many others aspire to show the blacks that they are equal human beings. Its strange to think that most blacks thought a white was better just because that is what they were brought up to believe.
This new realization completely jeopardizes the supremacy of the white community. The book gives many examples of this fear/hatred such as, “The hate stare”, the tone of peoples voices, and the over all rejection. Who could have thought that a black person could have the same job opportunities and the same living standards? For those racist whites who have a pathetic pride in there incomparable skin color and fear of change is why groups like the Ku Klux Klan exist. It is comforting to know that this despicable attitude is no longer holding the majority.
Yes, certain racial beliefs were awful in the 50’s and 60’s but its not over yet, some still exist today. People who still feel they are fighting the Civil War, also believe in the segregation of the black community. Hate groups such as the KKK and Neo Nazis are around but don’t expose themselves publicly as they had in the past for obvious reasons. Today racism isn’t about little things that white people take for granted, such as drinking water or a nice place to stay for the night, its more about fair trial and equal job or education opportunities. The hard fact of our diverse country hinders most racial discrepancies. Most people anymore can no longer be called just black or just white but a mix of the two. If a person were to make a racist comment whether white or black, they will most likely be bashing their own ethnic origin. This will be even grater as generations continue. Racism won’t disappear all together but can be diminished by the brotherhood of man.
John Griffin took a chance and discovered something outrageous which he never expected. The real life for those in the deep south was concealed under a complete misunderstanding of each others feelings. Due to the unfair treatment to the blacks things begin to change. Now with changing generations and a greater diversity among people, things have changed and will continue to do so. The misconception of one race being any better then another perhaps, is the only thing that separates us from world peace.