Free Study Guide for Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin BookNotes|
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But most crude and cruel of all is the treatment of the white racists of Negro girls and women. For the racists, the Negro female is a mere object for their leisure and pleasure, for sex and sensuality. On the other hand, if a Negro dares to even glance at a white woman, even casually, he is haunted and hounded by the white racists.
Finally, the rabid racists from among the local whites of the authorís hometown cannot even bear the sight, let alone the insights of the author after he tells the public about his experiment. Therefore they hang his effigy in public and burn a cross at a nearby Negro school and even threaten to castrate him as a warning to all. This white racism is most unbearable not just for the author, but also his wife, children and parents, and they are forced to flee the country for peace and security.
But the author hopes at the end that white racism will not breed black
racism. Then together both will create a Holocaust that will destroy and
devastate not just the bad and the ugly, but also the good and the innocent
of the two races, Negro and white.
A minor theme of the book is the theme of Negro strength and solidarity,
even amidst all their hunger and squalor. In spite of their animal like
conditions the Negroes do not become like rats or a part of the dog-eat-dog
world around them. Even though they are denied education and culture,
they do not stoop to the level of becoming savages or barbarians. Even
when they are down and out they are never down in the dumps. Many Negroes
not only offer the author food and shelter free of charge and for as long
as he wishes, but also kindness and courtesy, without asking. Many of
the blacks that the author meets, especially in Atlanta, have risen from
the ashes to acquire name and fame, but are still very committed to their
less fortunate brethren. Thus the strength of the Negroes lies in the
fact that they rarely ever lose their sanity or humanity.
Another minor theme in the book is the theme of white sensitivity. The author meets quite a few whites, who are not rabid racists but are in fact very opposed to them. Some, like the journalist East, are even paying a heavy price for this. East and his family are ostracized from society and have to lead a lonely existence. The authorís wife and parents are also examples of such heroism. They stand by him steadfastly amidst all the hate and hostility. There are other public figures, like famous journalists and media men, who tell their story to the world in all its rawness. Finally, there are also thousands of other nameless and faceless whites, who shower the author with adulation and congratulations at his historic experiment in truth. All of them help to sustain the authorís faith in humanity. The book therefore ends with the hope that white racism will not result in black racism.
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. 09 May 2017