(Last book review of books finished in 2012!)
Griffin, J. H., & Childs, R. (2004). Black like me. Middletown, Me.: Audio Bookshelf, LLC.
Reasons for Reading:Yet again, I sought another nonfiction eAudio work to entertain me during my work commute. I came across Black Like Me, checked it out from the HCPL Digital Media Catalog, and put it on my iPhone.
Summary: Texas Writer John Howard Griffin underwent a bold experiment like no other. He left his home in Mansfield, Texas with the intent to “pass as black.” With the help of a reticent New Orleans dermatologist, Griffin took a course of drugs, endured sunlamp treatments, and applied skin creams in order to understand the “black experience” firsthand. He also shaved his head and, later, his arms.
Then, he traveled through the Deep South as a black man. His social experiment altered the lives of many. Black Like Me is a journal of Griffin’s courageous experiment. The title comes from Langston Hughes’ “Dream Variations”
Rest at pale evening…
A tall slim tree…
Night coming tenderly
Black like me.
What I Liked: I appreciated what Griffin did. Also, I found Griffin to be a gifted writer who wanted to understand and help his fellow citizens. I liked that Griffin didn’t lie, either. He seemed to be an interesting and virtuous man.
What I Disliked: Many versions of this book exist. I’m grateful I got an edition with an epilogue which Griffin wrote in the 1970s. As hindsight is 20/20, Griffin related the outcome of Black Like Me. It’s my feeling that this should be the version everyone reads.
Four Out of Five Pearls
Setting: Texas, New Orleans, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina
- Same Kind of Different As Me… by Ron Hall, Denver Moore, & Lynn Vincent
- Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
- A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
- Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
- Black Boy by Richard Wright
For more on John Howard Griffin’s Black Like Me, check out the following:
- Black Like Me, 50 Years Later | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian Magazine
- Black Like Me by John H. Griffin – a book review by Rob | The Fireside Book Chat
- Books in the Spotlight: Black Like Me