Black Like Me Essay Research Paper Greg

9 September 2017

Black Like Me Essay, Research Paper

Greg Trumbold

Black Like Me

In the Fall of 1959, John Howard Griffin set

out on a journey of find. A find of his

ain nature, every bit good as a find of human nature.

With the aid of a friend, Griffin transformed his

white male organic structure into that of an Afro-american

male organic structure. Through a series of medical interventions,

the transmutation was complete. He spent the following

several months as an Afro-american travelling

through the deep South of the United States. What

he discovered changed his position of himself,

every bit good as his position of others.

On his journey, John Howard Griffin encountered

what could be termed the dark side of human nature.

He experienced racism in its purest signifier. He

experienced what it was like to populate in sordidness

with a sense of hopelessness. John Howard Griffin

besides experienced the hostility of those that

feared him entirely because of the colour of his tegument.

His experiences even included witnessing Acts of the Apostless of

racism with the African-American community. ( 1 )

As a & # 8220 ; white adult male & # 8221 ; in & # 8220 ; White America & # 8221 ; , John

Howard Griffin enjoyed certain luxuries. With

those luxuries, nevertheless, is an independency of

kinds. A bulk of white people pass through

life without much notice of other white people.

What he found as an Afro-american was that he

developed a bond with other African-Americans. The

type of bond that is shared between people in the

same state of affairs. ( 2 )

With this find came a certain sum of

hope. A hope that the human spirit will predominate

through any adversity. Through his journey, he

would step back into his true white ego, and enter

back into the white universe. He would so detect

the & # 8220 ; black & # 8221 ; universe with a new sense of lucidity. ( 3 )

While in the & # 8220 ; white & # 8221 ; universe, he encountered white

people that had a desire to alter the wrongs of

white society.

It would look that white society is comprised

of a great trade of felicitousness. That is to state, a

human being will of course be drawn towards the

saving of the ego. ( 4 ) During this clip

period, the white adult male viewed the black adult male as a

menace to the white life style. As experient

through the eyes of John Howard Griffin as a black

adult male, the white adult male would hold many inquiries as to

the nature of the black adult male. ( 5 )

Through Griffin & # 8217 ; s experience, he learned that

there is no cardinal difference in the nature of

the white adult male as compared to the nature of the

black adult male. There seems to be a desire to last.

The white adult male attempted to last by doing the

black adult male a & # 8220 ; 2nd citizen & # 8221 ; , which is to state

& # 8220 ; lesser citizen & # 8221 ; . The black adult male attempted to

survive by banding together as a race. This helped

the race survive through a feeling of empathy. If

a human feels that he is non entirely, it tends to

give a more powerful sense of strength.

Another interesting determination from John Howard

Griffin was that white kids did non needfully

portion their parents racial beliefs. This offers

cogent evidence that racism is non a portion of human nature,

but instead a byproduct of the human nature of the

fright of the unknown. Since the white individual was

unfamiliar with the black adult male, there was a sense of

fright of the black adult male. Racism is simply a defence

mechanism passed down from parent to child. The

white work forces in & # 8220 ; Black Like Me & # 8221 ; would learn their

kids to utilize racial slurs like & # 8220 ; nigger & # 8221 ; in

mention to a black adult male. ( 6 )

This theory is supported by the great mind

Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes theorized that adult male is

dictated by a & # 8220 ; psychological egoism & # 8221 ; . That

fundamentally is to state that people are selfish. They

set their ain demands in forepart of the demands of

others. ( 7 )

It is in this mode that the white adult male & # 8220 ; saved & # 8221 ;

himself from the black adult male. The white adult male saw merely

his ain demand for self-preservation. He feared the

black adult male because of the white adult male & # 8217 ; s ignorance of

the black adult male. The white adult male feared that the black

adult male was different than the white adult male, and hence

unsafe. It is from this fright that racism

springs. By maintaining the black adult male & # 8220 ; down & # 8221 ; in

society, the white adult male can carry through his demand to

survive. This is the mode in which Hobbes & # 8217 ; positions

of psychological egoism are supported by John

Howard Griffin & # 8217 ; s experience as a black adult male in the

Deep South.

John Howard Griffin & # 8217 ; s experiences besides helped

to indicate out many of the known Afro-american

stereotypes held by many white people. One scene

in peculiar involves Griffin hitchhiking in

Biloxi, Mississippi. ( 5 )

It was November 19, and Griffin had merely

arrived by coach in Biloxi. He proceeded to seek

transit to his following resting topographic point, Mobile,

Alabama. He found that transit by

hitch-hiking with several anon. drivers.

Griffin encountered a great trade of wonder

from the people that stopped to give him

transit. Most were white males, and they

all bombarded Griffin with inquiries. Questions

runing from the size of his genital organ to his

sexual art. Most of the inquiries dealt with

the stereotypes covering with the black male & # 8217 ; s



Griffin describes an about perverse pleasance

that was achieved by the white males in inquiring such

sexual inquiries during these episodes ; inquiries

about his past sexual experience with white adult females.

One such driver even asked Griffin to go out the auto

after Griffin refused to reply one such inquiry.

This would look to back up the theory that

worlds are funny, and possibly even a small

frightened, of the unknown. The changeless craving

for replies to seemingly perverse inquiries showed

a fright of insufficiency on the portion of the white male

drivers. By accomplishing the replies to these

inquiries the white males were perchance trusting to

still their fright that the black adult male was sexually


Were this to be found true, this in bend would

lead to farther racism. If the black male was in

fact found to be sexually superior to the white

male, the white male would in bend continue to

& # 8220 ; maintain the black male down & # 8221 ; , if Hobbes & # 8217 ; theories of

psychological egoism are to be believed. By

& # 8220 ; maintaining the black male down & # 8221 ; , the white male could

so maintain their superior place in society,

thereby leting them to take attention of their ain

selfish demands.

Towards the terminal of John Howard Griffin & # 8217 ; s

journey, he ended up in the metropolis of Atlanta. In

Atlanta, he found a different kind of spirit among

the black community. It was a spirit of societal

alteration. Griffin had arrived in Atlanta feeling

that the black status in America was one without

hope. It was in Atlanta that he found a gleam of

hope within the black community. ( 7 )

While in Atlanta, John Howard Griffin met with

several black community leaders. Civic leaders,

work forces of the fabric, and assorted black concern proprietors

throughout the metropolis were among his audience.

Through these conversations, Griffin discovered

that Atlanta had found a manner to cover with the white

individual & # 8217 ; s suppression of the black individual.

Griffin found that three chief ingredients were

responsible for the improved racial conditions in

Atlanta. First, inkinesss in the community were

united in their intent. Second, Atlanta had at

the clip a just and merely city manager. And eventually, the

metropolis newspaper was known for taking a base on

racial unfairnesss. ( 7 )

These findings helped Griffin to understand

another aspect of human nature: the endurance

inherent aptitudes of the oppressed. Griffin found that

although the Southern African-American was

suppressed in society, the Southern

African americans came together as a people as a

agencies of endurance.

The black civic leaders that John Howard

Griffin had encountered in Atlanta organized the

black community in such a was as to give the black

people a better opportunity at instruction, wellness attention,

and employment. This in bend changed the black

individual & # 8217 ; s mentality on life in the metropolis. This is what

gave the black individual in Atlanta hope, which is

necessary for endurance, which in bend is a basic

component of human nature.

During this full event, John Howard Griffin

had been maintaining a diary of his experiences. He

was a newsman of kinds, and this was his narrative.

He enlisted the aid of other flush white people

from the North, every bit good as an internationally

distributed black magazine. The trip was paid for

by the magazine & # 8220 ; Sepia & # 8221 ; , and in return for the

trip, Griffin was to provide the magazine with the

narratives of his journey.

While John Howard Griffin and Thomas Hobbes are

from different epochs, their constructs of basic homo

nature were in most instances really similar. Hobbes

theorized that adult male is consumed by psychological

egoism, which is the demand to go to to one & # 8217 ; s own

demands over that of another human being. Griffin

found the same line of thought in the white adult male

piece life as a black adult male in the Deep South.

However, Griffin besides stumbled upon the

resiliency of the human spirit in times of duress.

The black people that Griffin encountered in

Atlanta were determined to better their status.

The difference between the white people and the

black people in this case was that the black

people held into history the demands of other black

people. The white & # 8217 ; s seemed merely concerned with

their ain personal well being.

It would look as though both minds portion

similar thoughts in respects to this signifier of human

nature. It would be interesting to find

whether race makes a difference in the result.

That is to state, what would go on if the functions were

reversed? What would go on if the black individual

were in a place of power and the white individual

were supressed?

If these are genuinely illustrations of human nature,

one could speculate that the result would stay

the same. As John Howard Griffin discovered from

his experiences, the lone difference between white

and black is the colour of our tegument.


( 1 ) & # 8220 ; Black Like Me & # 8221 ; John Howard Griffin Pg. 55-59

( 2 ) & # 8220 ; Black Like Me & # 8221 ; Pg. 116-117

( 3 ) & # 8220 ; Black Like Me & # 8221 ; Pg. 118-121

( 4 ) & A ; ( 7 ) & # 8220 ; The Battle For Human Nature & # 8221 ; Barry Shwartz Pg. 41

( 5 ) & # 8220 ; Black Like Me & # 8221 ; Pg. 85-96

( 6 ) & # 8220 ; Black Like Me & # 8221 ; Pg. 156

( 7 ) & # 8221 ; Black Like Me & # 8221 ; Pg. 133-139

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