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Free Study Guide for Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin BookNotes

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NOVEMBER 10-12, 1959


The author goes around job-hunting but in vain. Meanwhile, blacks, even strangers, are very courteous to him. For instance, a black student not only gives Griffin directions to a Negro movie house but also accompanies him, for more than two miles, to the place. The student is even ready to fetch him back after the end of the movie. Griffin meets other Negroes and discusses his futile job-hunting experiences. Later, in the white part of town, he is tempted to enter a famous restaurant when he suddenly realizes that as a Negro this is impossible. Once when he is very tired after his long walk, he sits down to rest on a park bench. A white man tells him that it would be better if he would sit somewhere else. Griffin thanks the man thinking that the man has saved him from falling into trouble. However, he later realizes that Negroes are allowed to sit there and that the man had prevented him from doing so only because of his own racial prejudice.

Finally, he experiences an act of deliberate cruelty in a bus when the white bus conductor does not let him get off at his stop. The conductor does so by banging the door shut just when Griffin is about to get off. He lets Griffin off the bus eight blocks away from his stop, just because he is black.


In the first part of today’s jottings, the author describes his frustrating and unsuccessful attempts, walking around town looking for a job that an educated and well-dressed Negro can find. He discovers how most whites sincerely think that the Negro, because of his Negro-ness, simply cannot measure up to the white standards in work performance. During these days, the author also learns about the dual problem faced by a Negro -- First, the discrimination against him. Second and even more grievous, his discrimination against himself, his contempt for the blackness that is responsible for his suffering, his willingness to sabotage his fellow Negroes because they are also part of this painful blackness - A very deep insight into the cruel effects of racism on Negroes.

The next part of the entry is about the incredible courtesies that the blacks extend to each other, even if the other person is a stranger. The author gives an example of a black student who, without asking, is ready to accompany him for more than two miles to a Negro movie theatre and back again after the show. A shining example of Negro solidarity, amidst all the earlier white savagery and barbarism.

The next part of the diary is again about white racism. How the author is sorely tempted to enter a famous restaurant, but then suddenly remembers that a Negro can never ever get inside one of the big restaurants, except as kitchen boy. This is a very poignant moment when the author is confronted by his Negroness.

The next part of the day’s entry mirrors another example of white racism. How even after a tiring day job-hunting, the author cannot sit down on an empty public park bench to relax, even though Negroes had the right to sit there. How even if a Negro feels sick with exhaustion, he does not have a place to sit down and rest. In fact any time the police see a Negro idling, they will surely question him, which is very worrisome.

But this is not all. Finally the author describes an even greater act of deliberate cruelty against his Negroness, when at night a white bus conductor refuses to let him alight at his stop. Instead he makes him travel eight blocks further away, for no other reason than punishment against his black skin, his Negro color.


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