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    I remember when I was a kid, hearing about this man and this book back in the sixties, as the Civil Rights Movement gained strength. I grew up in a household where I do not remember ever hearing anything hateful towards any ethnic group of people. And so I as I got older I really struggled with trying to understand racism, and I still do. And though I think prejudice, bigotry, and racism are morally reprehensible, the main reason I am not any of those is that I just honestly don't care. I truly couldn't care less if someone is Black or Gay or Muslim, Mexican, Jewish, Transgender, or whatever. These things are none of my business and I have no intention of wasting my precious energy in making them a problem when we have a world that is being destroyed by the greed and insanity of the wealthy elite; we are on the verge of burning up, drowning, or running out of water, and some White people still think it is important and necessary to call 911 because there is a Black person relaxing in the park, or perhaps sitting in the lobby of a public building or even travelling in a vehicle with a White person. (Yes, I have examples of all these news articles posted in various places on my site.) OMG! And then we have this being in the White House who has single-handedly destroyed at least the last one hundred year's worth of racial progress we've made in this country. And I personally prefer surrounding myself with diversity. It would be a pretty dull world if we were all the same.
    But back in 1960-61, when this book was written, the opportunities for Blacks, especially in the South were unlawfully restricted, and at least now, that is hopefully not the case, even though individual people are still ignorant. I have so much to say, and so many thoughts about this experiment done by a very brave and devoted White man, that I cannot possibly express it all in this review. I want to mention, first, that the word Griffin uses for Blacks is "Negro" which I realize is not currently politically correct, but at the time this was written, that was the accepted and polite word used to use to describe Black people, so since I am writing about a historic book, that is the term I will use.
    I also must point out that this is an extremely heartbreaking and disturbing story, and a great eye-opener, even for Griffin. It proves, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that people were, and still are in many cases, treated differently for no other reason than the color of their skin. Period. And I found that part absolutely chilling. But even for those of us who have gone out of our way to integrate, or even better, to become color blind—that we, in our great efforts to NOT be racist, are being racist in a certain sense of the words, simply because of our efforts to prove we are not. Does that make sense? To me it does, and even more after I read this book. Our ultimate goal for humanity, for the short time we have remaining to exist on this planet, should be that there should be no reason to even give racism a thought, as one would not give a thought to whether someone has brown or blond hair, or whether a man chooses to grow a mustache or not. Until we can assign that level of indifference to skin color, we have not reached our goal. People are all the same species, for god's sake.
    In any case, I often visit the Goodwill store next door to the Ravenna Walmart, which has a nice selection of paperbacks for only a dollar. I always finds books to buy, and was delighted to find this one, as I have not heard of it for many years. Written by white author and civil-rights activist John Howard Griffin, it is in journal form, telling of his experience as a "Negro." Griffin, born in 1920, had an extremely full and interesting life. He got a scholarship in music, then went to France to study French and also medicine. He returned to the U.S. and enlisted in the Army Air Corp, then went to serve in the Solomon Islands, where a bout with malaria left him temporarily paraplegic. Then another accident blinded him in 1946. He returned to the U.S. and converted to Roman Catholicism and became a Lay Carmelite. He taught music, married one of his students, then regained his sight in 1957. WOW! A bit too much excitement for me! And his strong spiritual beliefs are reflected in his writing as he resorted to the protection and comfort of the Church on a number of occasions. He died in 1980 from complications of type 2 diabetes, and not from skin cancer, as was rumored. In fact, until I did this research, I still thought that was the cause of his death. The material in this paragraph is taken from the article about Griffin at Wikipedia.
    It was his desire to understand the life of the Negro from the inside that resolved him to take on this extremely risky experiment. The first entry from his journal is dated October 28, 1959. He asks the question, "How else except by becoming a Negro could a white man hope to learn the truth?" As he sat in the peace of his office located in his parents' barn on their farm in Mansfield, Texas, five miles from his own home, he decided to answer that question first hand. I won't go into details here—you can and should read the book to learn the whole story—he seeks the help of friends and a dermatologist, who supplies him with an oral medication that will turn his skin black, plus an extra stain to apply directly onto his skin. In addition, he shaves his head. This happens in New Orleans, where his first experience as a Negro takes place. His transformation into the black world is jolting.
    His first shock is when he goes to the drugstore where he has bought cigarettes every day since he arrived in New Orleans, and the same girl who had always cheerfully waited on him as a white man, now is cold and silent. And now, as a Negro. he can no longer "order a limeade or ask for a glass of water." He catches a bus and gets a room at the Butler Hotel, which had been recommended to him by a man on another bus.
    The next morning he roams the area, stops at a Negro café, and orders breakfast. He asks the man at the corner where he can get a better room, and he suggests the Y. Then he asks if there is a Catholic Church nearby, and where is the nearest restroom. The man asks him if he wants to piss or pray, then says, "if you stick around this town, you'll find you're going to end up doing most of your praying for a place to piss."
    Negroes were not allowed to use public restrooms, and the man gives Griffin a few pointers on how to find ones he is allowed to use. Negroes were also not allowed to even ask for a glass of water. He goes to visit the shoeshine man he had been visiting as a white man, named Sterling Williams, with whom he has a fine relationship, so he confides that he is the same Mr. Griffin—the white man. Sterling bursts out laughing and slaps Griffin's leg with glee. He loves it! So now Griffin has a confidant who can give him pointers, and the first step is that he must immediately go shave his hands, which he does in the nearby Negro restroom. But something very strange happens as the two men converse. Even though Sterling knows Griffin is white, because his skin is now black, they begin discussing in depth the problems of the Negro as if they are both black. And what is even more disconcerting is that Griffin begins feeling as if he is a Negro, and thinking like one, too. He begins to feel the animosity and frustration from the other side, which if course was his goal when he began the experiment.
    Griffin describes his reaction as he looks in the mirror for the first time as a black man. He suddenly finds himself disconnected from his body, as if the man in the mirror is someone other than him. He later tells of an incident when he looks into the window of a fine restaurant in the French Quarter that he is no longer allowed to enter now that he is black. In fact he got dirty looks just because he was looking in the window and reading the menu. It does not take him long to realize that the gaping chasm of inequality is based solely on the color of his skin. Period. He is well-dressed and groomed—that part he kept the same as when he was a white man. In fact, NOTHING else changed about him but his skin color. This level of hatred and bigotry in the South sent a clear and shameful message to the rest of the country and the world.
    A number of Griffin's shocking experiences happened on busses, but perhaps the worst was when he left New Orleans to go to Mississippi. Sterling warned him that that was the most dangerous place for a Negro, but he had to experience it himself. The trouble began before he even boarded the bus. He had made a rather hasty decision and needed to get a traveler's check cashed on the weekend when the banks were closed. Not one merchant would do it, and all rudely refused, even when he offered to purchase something. He knew these stores cashed traveler's checks for white people, and also knew that they probably figured he had obtained these checks, as a black person, by theft or illegally. He finally went to the Catholic Book Store, where the cashier answered, "Of course," (without hesitation), to his enquiry. He ended up buying some paperbacks in gratefulness.
    But things got worse on the bus. On the way to Hattiesburg, the driver made a short stop at a little town. One of the Negroes who had been conversing with Griffin suggested they get off and use the restroom. Bill made it off, despite the driver's blocking the doorway with his arm, by slipping under it, but Griffin and everyone else was ordered to go back to their seats. Finally as an act of retaliation, several of them began peeing on the floor, but a number of them pointed out that that would only make things worse for them in the long run. And so these poor people were forced to travel all that way without being able to use a restroom! What an atrocity!!
    Griffin hitchhiked his way through Mississippi, which I would have thought too dangerous, especially since all who picked him up were white men. How easy it could have been to kill a Negro along the road in the middle of the night. But he realized the strangest thing. These men wanted to know about his sex life, because, everyone knows, "Negroes are over-sexed!!" One young man even wanted him to expose himself!! Griffin made a clear point throughout the book that there is little difference in the life philosophy of blacks and whites, and little difference in their sexual cravings and practices. They love their children and their families and want to provide support to them as well as they can, but the system is built, especially in the South, to ban them from every means of success that would be there in the waiting if their skin was white.
    I have to add an aside here, and that is that poor and middle class whites are getting screwed now, too, in fact unless you are a member of the wealthy elite, your abilities to truly succeed in this lifetime becoming more diminished or even impossible. I know that to be true. Anyways, you get the idea of what Griffin learns as a black man, and the lesson is even stronger when he begins transitioning back to white. (He has to keep taking the medication and staining his skin to maintain his blackness.) The transition is stark, both physically and mentally. He writes:

The policeman nodded affably to me and I knew then that I had successfully passed back into white society, that I was once more a first-class citizen, that all doors into cafés, rest rooms, libraries, movies, concerts, schools and churches were suddenly open to me. After so long I could not adjust to it. A sense of exultant liberation flooded through me. I crossed over to a restaurant and entered. I took a seat beside white men at the counter and the waitress smiled at me. It was a miracle. I ordered food and was served, and it was a miracle. I went to the rest room and was not molested. No one paid me the slightest attention. No one said, "What're you doing in here, nigger?"

    Oh my. It makes one want to weep.
    For photographs and the media Griffin was working with, he had to spend a bit more time as a Negro. He notes throughout the book that the blacks who were wise would find their ways of making a point in a perfectly harmless but powerful way. They at least were working towards peaceful solutions. There is one incident that happened on a bus—again—in which a black woman got the best of a white driver in the most amusing and polite way. Griffin explain how this driver would always tell his white passengers to "Watch your step, please" as they disembarked, but was conspicuously silent when a black person left the bus.

Then at a stop, a group of whites walked to the front and behind them a sedately dressed Negro woman in her fifties. I felt the driver's dilemma and was amused by it. Should he say "Watch your step, please," when the statement would be addressed also to the Negro?

"Watch your step, please," he finally said, opening the doors. The whites stepped down without response, but the Negro lady nodded politely to him and said, "Thank you," knowing full well his warning had not been meant for her. It was a moment of triumph. She proved herself more courteous than his white passengers and more courteous than he; and she did it without the slightest sarcasm. The subtlety of it escaped the whites on the bus, but it in no way escaped the driver or the Negroes at the back. I heard stifled chuckles of approval from behind me. The driver slammed the doors harder than necessary and lurched the bus forward.

    I would like to say, "Such pettiness," but this white behavior went way beyond that. It was and still is, for the hate groups that abound right out in the open, especially with Trump as president, nothing but pure evil.
    I want to add that during this period of living as a Negro, Griffin began to have frequent screaming nightmares, which among other things became an embarrassment when he was staying at people's homes, which he frequently did. And the nightmare didn't end after he returned to being a full-fledged white, and "came out" in public about his experiment. He and his family, including his parents began to receive life-endangering threats and someone even hung an effigy of him on the stop light in the middle of their home town of Mansfield, Texas. Both his family and his parents ended up selling their homes and moving to Mexico for a short time.
    Of course, this was the period, during the sixties when the civil rights movement gained serious momentum, and also the period of racial riots. Griffin had an overloaded schedule of speaking engagements and worked with such greats as Dick Gregory and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. Griffin also speaks about how the riots were caused, purposely, by whites, and gives an example of how this was planned, all caught and recorded by a black reporter covering the Miami Republican Convention in 1968.
    I want to put my own two cents in here, about the race riots, that I became aware of after watching the documentary The Minds of Men, an exposé of the CIA's and government's covert mind control programs . I went back and read the notes I took way back when I watched it, and there was a section on how poor blacks, in attempting to better the situation in the ghettos, were induced to riot, then declared as suffering from "brain dysfunction" as an excuse for the government to experiment on them and develop methods of "crowd control." That, I am quite certain is very well-developed here in 2019, and poised to be used when the mass population finally wakes up about the deadly practice of activities such as climate engineering, 5G, vaccines, GMO "foods," and the truth about 9/11. We are coming closer to disclosure about the criminal behavior of our government, and they believe they are ready to deal with us. We shall see.
    And last but not least, after reading such a heartbreaking book, one needs to be able to laugh at something, The Wikipedia page on Black Like Me, provides a link to something hysterically funny—a SNL skit by Eddie Murphy called White Like Me. Of course, a bus incident is included!!
    I had many more points I wanted to make on this book, but I will end this long review here. Needless to say, this book is so highly recommended that I believe every adult and young adult in this country should be required to read it. I would like to think before we are all exterminated on this planet, we would finally come together as a human species, along with our plant and animal friends, but the Powers-That-Be are set on the divide and conquer technique, and the dumbed-down human population no longer has the thinking capacity to recognize this. Karma will prove to be a bitch.

qwerty

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