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Journal Entry 1: Black Like Me

Black Like Me, by John Howard Griffin, is the true story of the author who darkened his skin to learn what it's like to be an African American living in the Deep South in the 1950s. He shares his interesting encounters in this book.

I was initially interested in reading this book because it was nonfiction. None of the novels we have read this year have been true, so I felt that this would be an interesting and beneficial way to bring variety into the unit. I was interested in learning about what the south was like in the 1950s. This is a time period I have not yet had the opportunity to study, so I felt that reading this book would give me good insight as to the way of life. So far this book has showed me a lot about the basic human nature of the people in the south.

My Name is Asher Lev and the Joy Luck Club are also books about minorities in the United States. However, this book's focus is strictly on that. In this book the minority is people who are black. They are not accepted by the society as a whole. Whereas, in the other two books, they did not fit in, however they were generally accepted. I find it depressing to learn just how poorly the whites treated the blacks in the south. The racism that existed is sickening.

John Howard Griffin proves that he was a very noble man. He is unlike most whites were because he was not racist. He saw all people as equals and despised the fact that blacks were considered so inferior. In addition to these feelings he wanted to make a difference. By darkening his skin to appear black he was able to create a great novel in defense of African Americans. His encounters prove that there is no difference in humans based on skin color. Griffin's decision to experience the nightmare that blacks endure was one that probably no other white man who chose.

I was very interested to learn just how kind blacks were to other blacks. As Griffin traveled, he was treated with so much generosity by so many different people he met. For instance, one black man walked four miles for Griffin rather than give him directions, simply so that Griffin did not get lost. Other people invited him into their homes so that he would have shelter during his time in the city he happened to be visiting. The kindness these strangers showed to one another was one that does not exist today (at least not anywhere that I have been). I am unsure if it is the way all people treated one another in the 1950s, or if just African Americans were like this to other African Americans. I hope that I will find an answer to this in the second half of the book.

During his trip Griffin found some white people who were kind to him. However, most of them were from the North, or people that knew him and the fact that he was white. There were certain places that he went to where whites were nicer than others. New Orleans, for instance, had such people. Mississippi whereas, is considered to be the worst place for a black person to live. Griffin is now entering the state. I predict that because of this, the details he gives in the second half of the book will truly show the hatred that existed towards the blacks.

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