Many things have changed in the United States of America since the late 1950’s and 60’s. During those times blacks were not treated with the rights that they were promised in the Declaration of Independence. In the book, Black Like Me, John Griffin had many unacceptable things happen to him when he was black and also when he reverted back to being white. The country has changed a great deal since that time period, but race relations have still not been perfected. If I had the chance, I would like to go back in time and make sure that black people felt secure when doing common everyday activities, like walking down the street or going to the store. It is easy to say what you could have done, but the important thing is to look back on what was done, and make sure that history never repeats itself.
John Griffin was an educated white man who, by using medication that deepened his skin tone, changed into a black man living in the deep south. He had many mixed emotions going into this experiment, and wanted to involve as little amount of people as possible. He said to the doctor helping with his pigmentation, “ “I’d rather you didn’t know anything about it. I don’t want you involved (Griffin, pg.15).”” When Griffin first looked at himself in the mirror as a Negro, he was shocked. Said he, “I was imprisoned in the flesh of an utter stranger, an unsympathetic one with whom I felt no kinship (Griffin, pg. 15).” Griffin soon came face to face with the injustices that blacks faced as a part of everyday life. During his first day he discovered how, to blacks, modesty was a luxury. Every penny was hard to come by, and people were constantly bargaining with one another for things as insignificant as an over ripe tomato. Life for the blacks was a truly different experience for Griffin; more different than anything he had ever faced.
One of the most obvious differences was the problem with public transportation. Though blacks were no longer legally obligated to sit in the back of the bus, or give up their seats to whites, whites never sat in the same seat as a black person. Unless they could find their own seat or one beside another white person, they stood in the aisle. Griffin made the mistake of offering the seat beside him and “Negroes behind me [Griffin] frowned disapproval. I [Griffin] realized I was “going against the race” and the subtle tug- of- war became instantly clear. If the whites would not sit with us, let them stand. When they became tired enough…they would eventually take seats beside us…and see it was not so poisonous after all. …to give them your seat was to let them win (Griffin, pg. 25).” Now that blacks have the ability to be equal they are subtly, but solidly taking a stand. I think that it was a good thing that the blacks were standing up for themselves. For so many years they were forced to be the weaker race, and when they acquired some minor rights, they had every reason to be proud and not bow down to ignorant white people. Griffin quickly learned not to suck up to the whites, or to even be friendly because the whites still viewed Negroes as inferiors. Until they learned to accept each other, they would never be equals in eachother’s eyes. Black people at that time still lived in conditions that were a disgrace. The rooms that Griffin stayed in were probably no bigger than the closets we have today. Even going to the bathroom was sometimes a problem. Since blacks and whites did not use the same toilets, blacks were often forced to walk far out of their way in order to find a restroom that they were allowed to use. The black race was definitely looked down upon, and the conditions under which they lived proved this each and every day.
When Griffin reverted back to being white, it was not a joyous time for him or his family. He was not expecting this transition to be an easy one, “…I felt…the deepest dread of the