Racial equality was practically unheard of in the 1950's and 1960's. Bigotry, prejudice, and intolerance against African Americans were rampant. One man, John Howard Griffin, had the bravery to face the situation that was going on in the Deep South of the United States. He wrote about his escapades in a book titled Black like Me. John Griffin was a white journalist who questioned "What is it like to experience discrimination, based on skin color, something over which one has no control?" (Griffin, 7).
Although one has no control over their skin colour, one can control the way they look at and judge other people. Even though this book was written in 1959, a lot of the morals, racial standards, and ethics it stresses still hold true today. Colour, is just a simple skin pigmentation. A person's skin colour does not make them a criminal, a liar, or a useless waste of humanity as commonly thought in the 1950's and 1960's. Racial prejudice was just bigotry then, and racial prejudice is just bigotry without due cause now. Many people did not believe that though. As shown on page 127, many white Americans were very hesitant to have anything to do with Negroes. The two women who were looking for a seat on the bus did not want to sit by the black man and by the black woman. As the bus driver states, on the same page, "They don't want to sit with you people, don't you know that? They don't want to. Isn't that plain enough?"
The white American, for the most part, despised the Negro. He treated the black people like pests, and tired his hardest to keep them from making any advances in society. "..We don't want you people. Don't you understand that?" (Griffin, 100). The white man gave the Negroes the jobs that no white man would want, and even those despicable jobs were hard to come by. John Griffin questions on page 100, after hearing that the blacks will be getting the worst jobs at a certain plant, "How can we live?" He is answered with a non-chalant reply, "That's the whole point. We're trying our damndest to drive every one of you out of the state."
There were many misconceptions about the Negro by white people. They stereotyped all black people as having no sexual morals, being irresponsible, having a much lesser intelligence, and whites thought that Negroes were happy with the prejudicial situation they were in. Black people stereotyped whites too, though. To blacks, all white people didn't have a care in the world and whites didn't work for what they have. Perhaps if black leaders and white leaders held "peace talks" and realized there was a problem, this racial unbalance would have been exterminated early in the 1950's before some of the damage had been done.
Sanctuary from the white people was very hard to come by for the Negroes. John Griffin remarked that in medieval times, white men found sanctuary in churches. In the 1950's, black men found sanctuary in coloured restrooms for five cents. This shows perfectly, how unfair and unbalanced things were in the 1950's. A church is a holy place, where one could be closer to, and worship God. A bathroom is a dirty place, where one goes to relieve himself, not a place where one should take refuge from the world. A black man had to find peace in a bathroom, while white men could go wherever they wanted to go.
This book was a real eye opener. It didn't just state facts or opinions, it showed how life really was for black Americans in the south. It showed all the trials and tribulations they went through, without any unfair judgement. John Griffin was an omniscient observer. Whether he was a black man, or a white man, he must have had an extreme amount of bravery to face this unstable situation in the South of the United States.
This book makes the reader reflect on the innermost part of himself. It tears away his innocence about the extreme hatred against blacks during the 1950's and 1960's. Sure, when they are young, all American school children learn about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. But it isn't until they are