am 21. Juli 2000
As a caucasian American, I don't know what it is like to live as an African American in the United States, day in and day out. I have rarely experienced direct or indirect racism. Perhaps I never will. And for that reason, I can never truly relate to the racism experienced by people who are not caucasian. This book provides a place to start, however. Without it, I think many may be tempted to say, "surely that never happens," or "I'm sure it's not that bad." It is a sad testimony to our country that it took a white person writing a book like this (instead of just listening to those already experiencing racism) to wake us up, but at least it has served its purpose. As I read the book (which is a very quick read) I felt like I was riding along with Griffin in the South and walking the roads with him. I don't know how he maintained his composure during some of the situations he found himself in. I respect what he did, especially considering the hate he experienced both during and after his "experiement."
In conclusion, I wonder what would happen if someone did this again, in the year 2000. Given what I've read by African American authors and heard from black friends, I don't know if it would be all that different. Perhaps the racism wouldn't be as blatant. But all in all, not very different.
am 1. April 2008
In den USA wird dieses Buch in den Schulen gelesen, nicht zu Unrecht, denn es öffnet dem Leser die Augen.
Von Griffin selbst bin ich mehr als beeindruckt. Es ist erschütternd, was er im Jahr 1960 während seiner einmonatige Reise als "Neger" (mit chemisch gefärbter Haut) im tiefen Süden der USA (Alabama, Mississipi, Louisiana, Georgia) und darüber, wie ihn diese Erlebnisse persönlich verändern, berichtet. Eines wird hier überdeutlich: Nicht über Hautfarben und Rasse nachzudenken, ist ein Luxus, den nur Weiße haben. Sobald Griffin in die Haut des "Negers" schlüpft, erlebt er eine völlig andere Wirklichkeit: Er ist den starrenden (meist feindseligen oder zumindest misstrauischen) Blicken Anderer ("hate stares") ausgesetzt, fühlt permanent auch eine physische Bedrohung, ihm ist der Zugang zu Konzertsälen, Bibliotheken, und anderen Formen von Bildung, die Freiheit, seine Notdurft zu verrichten oder z.B. Wasser zu trinken, an den entsprechenden öffentlichen Einrichtungen für Weiße verwehrt. Nie wird er als Mensch, als er selbst, wahrgenommen, sondern immer als das, was Weiße in ihn hineinprojizieren: den potentiellen Kriminellen, Vergewaltiger, Analphabeten oder auch die dauerpotente Sexbestie. Und Griffin kann nicht anders, als einen Teil dieser Projektionen anzunehmen: Er bewegt sich anders, spricht anders, fühlt sich erdrückt von der Aussichtslosigkeit, die mit der schwarzen Hautfarbe verbunden ist. Und er sieht, wie die schwarzen Menschen um ihn herum diese Zuschreibungen angenommen haben, wie sie geduckt werden, z.T. ihre eigene Hautfarbe hassen, alles gäben, um weiß oder zumindest von Weißen anerkannt zu sein.
Dieses Buch ist zeitlos. Sicher hat es in den vergangenen 50 Jahren Fortschritte in der "Rassenfrage" gegeben, aber besser ist nicht gleich gut. Griffin schafft es, dass auch der weiße Leser, dessen Privileg es ist, die schreiende Ungerechtigkeit, die täglich verübte rassistische Diskriminierungshandlungen nun mal sind, einfach nicht wahrzunehmen, erfahrbar zu machen, zumindest zu einem Bruchteil.
am 8. Mai 2000
As I write this review I have my old copy of Black Like Me in front of me. It's a Panther paperback, printed in 1964, bought by my parents, and found by my sister and myself on their shelves a few years later. I can still remember the shock when I read this, at the age of perhaps eleven, at realizing just how inhuman people could be because of something as seemingly trivial as skin colour.
Griffin spent a little over a month--parts of November and December, 1959--with his skin artificially darkened by medication. In that time he traveled through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, finding out at first hand what it is like to be treated as a second-class citizen--or, as he says, as a tenth-class citizen. Everyone now know the story of the big injustices, the lynchings, the civil rights cases, and for most people those are now just another page in the history text book. Griffin's experiences take the daily evils of racism and thrust them in your face, just as they were thrust in his--the rudeness of the clerk when he tried to pay for a train ticket with a big bill; the difficulty he had in finding someone who would cash a traveler's check for a Negro; the bus-driver who wouldn't let any blacks off the bus to use the restrooms; the white man who followed him at night and threatened to mug him.
I've heard people worry that this is the white experience of racism: that whites can read this book and feel good because a white person felt the pain too. I'm white, so I don't know that I can judge that argument completely impartially, but I can tell you that this book profoundly shaped my views on racism, and that any book that can do what this book did for me is a book that is good to have around.
One more thing. I've said a lot about how powerful, and how influential the book is. I should add that it is also a gripping story. Though Griffin only spends a month with dark skin, by the time you finish the book it feels like an eternity.
A wonderful read, and a truly amazing story.
am 20. Dezember 1999
WEB DUBOIS PREDICTED THAT THE PROBLEM OF THE 20TH CENTURY WOULD BE THAT OF THE COLOR LINE. JOHN HOWARD GRIFFINS 20TH CENTURY AMERICAN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NON-FICTION BOOK TITLED BLACK LIKE ME IS AN IMPORTANT PIECE OF LITERATURE IF FOR NO OTHER REASON THAT IT CAPTURES THE BLACK AMERICAN EXPERIENCE AT A TIME WHEN AFRICAN AMERICANCS HAD VERY FEW OUTLETS TO EXPRESS THE DAILY DEGREDATIONS INFLICTED UPON THEM. AS IT WAS IT TOOK A COURAGEOUS AND COMMITTED WHITE PERSON TO GET THE WORD OUT ON A NATIONAL LEVEL THAT AMERICA WAS BRUTALIZING ITS BROWNER NATIVE SON. NOT THAT BLACKS WEREN'T TRYING WITH ALL THEIR MIGHT TO GET AMERICANS TO LISTEN. IT IS JUST THAT THE DOMINANT MEDIA,THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT NOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT GAVE A HOOT ABOUT BLACKS BEING LYNCHED,DENIED DECENT HOUSING, THE RIGHT TO VOTE,OR A DECENT EDUCATION. THE BOOK BLACK LIKE ME HAS JOHN GRIFFIN SELF INJECTING A CHEMICAL THAT CAUSES AN INCREASE IN THE MELENIN IN HIS SKIN,THUS HE BECOMES A WHITE MAN IN A BLACK SKIN. HE TRAVELS THROUGH A FEW SOUTHERN STATES AND EXPERIENCES FIRST HAND A KIND OF HELL ON EARTH. GRIFFIN GOES FROM A PRIVLEGED WHITE MAN TO A BLACK MAN DENIED ALL THE HUMAN RIGHTS YOU CAN IMAGINE. HIS PILGRIMMAGE THROUGH THE SOUTH AND ALL THE HORRIFIC THINGS HE EXPERIENCES AND OBSERVES IS A TESTIMONY TO THE IMPORTANCE OF THE WORK OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS WORKERS,BLACK, WHITE, RED AND BROWN WHO FOUGHT TO MAKE THIS COUNTRY WHAT IT PROMISES IN ITS CONSTITUTION. WHILE THE BOOK FOCUSES ON THE SOUTH, ITS WEAKNESS IS THAT IT ONLY CONCENTRATES THERE. CERTAINLY A BOOK CAN'T COVER EVERYTHING AND IT WAS AN HONEST START BUT THE READER SHOULD KNOW THAT BLACKS IN THE NORTH ALSO SUFFERED THROUGH HOUSING AND JOB DISCRIMINATION,SEGREGATED SCHOOLS AND NEIGHBORHOODS,BANK LOAN DENIALS,AND RED LINING;JUST READ A RAISIN IN THE SUN. IF YOU WANT TO SEE AMERICA THROUGH THE EYES OF A WHITE MAN WHO TEMPORARILY GAVE HIS LIFE TO LIVING AS BLACK MAN AT A TIME AND IN A PLACE WHERE THAT COULD MEAN DEATH AT THE HAND OF ANY HOT HEADED WHITE PERSON THIS BOOK IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. IT WILL CERTAINLY HOLD YOU CAPTIVE.
am 24. Februar 1999
As an avid reader, I have long wished for a book that would in some way enable white Americans to feel the pain of hatred based on something that one has no control of. The history of African-Americans and their struggle for equality is seldom discussed in schools, homes and churces of the majority group. This is not simply a matter of not caring, but a matter of not knowing the courageous struggle of an entire race of people which has gone on for over 400 years and continues today. As a black southerner, I can empathize with the bigotry that Mr. Griffin encountered, I can also testify that it still (in less obvious ways) occurs today. I only wish that he could still be here to document the often unbelieved fact that the hands of racism still choke opportunites for minorities in this country. This book is a must read for any person who wishes to become more enlightend, more aware and more understanding of the plight of minorities in these(almost)United States.
am 19. Januar 1999
I read this significant book in one day. John Howard Griffin did something most whites would never even dream of, especially when segregation was thriving in the Deep South. By changing his white skin to black, he became nothing but an inferior servant to the white race, regardless of his educational upbringing. I highly recommend this book to those who are intolerant of racial injustice.
am 11. April 1997
There are only a few books that have really given me a deeper understanding into the issues of the world around us. This book is one of them.
John Howard Griffin penetrates into a world that seems almost beyond belief and yet is undeniably and startlingly real. Realizations await on every page to show that the generally sheltered cultural perspective of the typical white (like myself) could not conceive the situation which confronted blacks in the south every day just a very few years ago -- as experienced by a white man who changed his skin color and dealt with the consequences.
The book is made even better by a series of stories about his experiences after returning to the world of caucausions and going on the lecture circuit about the plight of blacks in the south. He demonstrates the rationalization and close mindedness that characterizes even those who consider themselves "good people".
This book would probably be too much to accept if not for the authors remarkably unassuming and explanatory style. Rarely has such a sore subject been confronted so directly and yet so plainly.
Highly recommended. I keep having to buy new copies because people will read a few pages and want a copy.
am 15. März 2000
After I read Black Like Me, I was touched. This book makes you think about how people of different nationalities have to live their lives. Some do not live their lives because they choose to; they live life because they are forced to. Hate in this world really affects peoples lives. What would it be like to trade places with someone that is completely opposite of you? How would life be, if people treated you differently because of your color? ... This man made a big sacrifice, but at the same time a discovery. He left his everyday life, family, and home to go and see what it was like to be treated differently because of race. He didn't go walking down the streets just as he was. He had gotten his skin darkened to fit in. He went from being white to black. He did something that not many people would do. I think people should read this book, not because I say it's a good book to read, but because it give you a different perspective on life.
am 27. November 1998
5+ stars for this true story of a man who dared to reveal the horrors of our nation we try to hide. What a heroic task for a man not only to investigate the truth behind the racism toward the black race but also to publish the entire investigation and findings. This book aroused more emotion in me than any other book I've read. The fact that this horrific story is non-fiction makes this book a necessity to be read by all Americans. Truly a righteous attempt to bring the truth of racism to light. A victory for all who oppose racism!!
am 30. August 1999
I am 16 years old and needed to do a book review on a certian topic. My mum was going to give away a pile of old books that she had had ever since she was 10. I picked up Black Like Me and stated reading it. I couldn't put the book down for a second! It made me feel ashamed to be a "white" person and relise just how cruel the human race can be. I have been researching the topic and discovering many terrible things "whites" did - and still do sometimes - to native people, immigrants, even our neighbours.