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Top Ten Quotes from Black Like Me

Written by John Howard Griffin, Black Like Me is a nonfiction book that explores the condition of racial justice as well as the experience of being an African-American in the early 1960’s in the USA. It is the History making classic about crossing the colour line in the segregated South and must be read by everyone who is interested in the cause of fighting racism.

As a white man, John Howard Griffin is frustrated by his distance and inability to understand the Negro cause, although in the South both blacks and whites live side by side. So to understand the experience of “blackness” and to understand America, Griffin takes the step of becoming a “Negro”. He goes through medical treatment to change the colour of his skin as well as exposed himself to ultra violet rays. Once losing his original “whiteness”, Griffin set foot in New Orleans and starts living his life as a Black American.

Throughout the book, we see how Griffin accepts the loss of his identity in order to understand the others. And through the acquisition of a black identity, he comes to understand the deep racism which is in place in his own community. He becomes a victim of the racist laws which are in place. He notices that as white, whites treat him nicely and with respect, while he causes a fear within the black community. Or, as white he is free to move, and as black he is living in constant fear of being controlled or attacked.

Top 5 Quotes From The Book – Black Like Me

I had expected to see myself disguised, but this was something else. I was imprisoned in the flesh of an utter stranger, an unsympathetic one with whom I felt no kinship.

Quote imprisoned in the flesh of an utter stranger

When all the talk, all the propaganda has been cut away, the criterion is nothing but the color of skin. My experience proved that. They judged me by no quality. My skin was dark.

Black LIke Me Quote

Here in America, in this day, the simple act of whites receiving a Negro had to be a night thing and its aura of uneasiness had to be countered by gallows humour.

All showed morbid curiosity about the sexual life of the Negro, and all had, at base, the same stereotyped image of the Negro as an inexhaustible sex-machine with oversized genitals and a vast store of experiences, immensely varied. They appear to think that the Negro has done all those “special” things they themselves have never dared to do.

In the slave years any attempt at literacy among Negroes was severely punished. In some communities a Negro’s right hand was mutilated if he learned to read and write.

5 Short Quotes From John Howard Griffin Book

To sob would be to realize, and to realize would be to despair.

John Howard Griffin

If the Negro is part of the black mass, the white is always the individual.

John Howard Griffin

No one, not even a saint, can live without a sense of personal value.

John Howard Griffin

It reminded me of the … terror we felt in Europe when Hitler began his marches.

John Howard Griffin

Fear dims even the sunlight.

John Howard Griffin

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