Free Study Guide for Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin BookNotes|
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The next entry is a graphic description about the rabid. white racism that the author encounters from a white woman passenger in a bus. The author here also gets an insight into the black psyche. Even though the other black passengers resent his act of courtesy to the white woman, they do not "eye" him with anger, but with astonishment that any Negro could be so stupid. This is an example of their deep sensitivity and solidarity.
Another example of the sensitivity of the Negroes to one another is the character of Sterling Williams. He does not recognize the author at first, but later is very excited with his experiment and promises to keep it a secret. He even gives Griffin a job of letting him shine shoes with him. He even saves Griffin from falling into trouble when he warns him about the "golden hair" on his hands that could reveal his white identity, and asks him to go a Negro toilet to shave his hands. Here one will also notice how Griffinís skin color has affected Sterlingís language towards him. When referring to himself and the author, Sterling often uses the phrase "we Negroes." The feelings of brotherhood among the blacks is also evident in the way in which Sterling and his friend Joe, let Griffin become a part of their lives and share their meals with him.
The next part of the entry is the authorís very vivid description of his experiences as a Negro shoe shine man, when he begins talking and thinking like any other black. However the most dramatic description is especially of the whitesí hypocritical, double-faced morality. The whites have no hesitation or shame asking where they can find Negro girls. And yet, all of them conveniently believe that the Negroes are people of such low morality that nothing can offend them. Hypocrisy personified!
Then there is an example of the authorís very powerful description of his environment; the sharp contrast between the squalor and clutter of the street in the black ghetto and the deep silence and soft warm light from the magnificent stained glass windows of a Church. The peace and quiet also nostalgically remind him of his home, full of light and talk, in grim and dim contrast to his loneliness here and now, as a Negro.
The next part of todayís entry is the authorís education by other educated and influential blacks, about the deep crisis and contradictions within the blacks as a whole. He notices how some blacks actually work against one another instead of together and how others work hard, not to boost one another, but only to please and flatter the whites and thus get their attention.
The final part of this dayís entry is a chilling description of racist terror. On his way out alone to have dinner, a strong muscular, young white bully stalks behind the author on a deserted street. For the first time the author tastes fear and despair during the pursuit, which is deadly, nightmarish and diabolic. But fortunately, as he had been trained in judo, he decides to challenge the bully, who then disappears. The author is left wondering if this would have happened to him if he were a white man?
Thus, the authorís first day as a black man is a day full of momentous happenings; good, bad and ugly, his fate now as a "nigger."
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. 09 May 2017