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"Night Coming Tenderly Black Like me.


Skala Mustafa Shareef

Access year 2 Group W

Meezan Eglen

ID: 1000043

"Night Coming Tenderly Black Like me." Sadly in some societies today, people use skin color to judge each other. Biologically it makes people no different, but from the social point of view it symbolizes races and cultures though some use it to decide upon whether one should be considered human or not. Black like me written by John Howard Griffin, a white journalist, describes his extraordinary journey through the Deep South of the United States of America. In order to become a black and learn from within, Griffin undergoes multiple medical procedures. The following quote explains how Griffin feels about the reality: What is it like to experience discrimination based on skin color, something over which one has no control (p.14)

John leaves his home in Mansfield, Texas in 1959 and begins his journey by speaking to an editor of Sepia Magazine. John tries to persuade this editor to write about the idea of changing his skin color and after much reluctance the editor agrees. John decides not to change his identity, his name or his job in order to get a natural, more authentic, response from the whites; he also decides to stay quiet. With his new skin color, Griffin finds himself in New Orleans where he gets his first taste of what it is like to be black. In New Orleans, he meets a shoe shiner named Sterling Williams who he becomes friends with. Williams shows Griffin how to act right so he can blend in and become an African American. Let alone finding a job, John cant even walk in a store without being looked at with suspicion and hostility.

After several painful days he decides to travel to further south into Mississippi and Alabama. In Mississippi, he is mistreated even more and disappointed, so he calls a friend who is ajournalist and disagrees with racism. He finds that the conditions for blacks are awful, and that

black people are neglected and defeated. After a few weeks, he could see hopelessness in his own face.

In Montgomery Alabama, African Americans started fighting for their rights in a nonviolent way. In Atlanta, Griffin interviewed some black leaders and recorded the interviews. Griffins condition was miserable and he was exhausted so he decided not to take his medicine anymore and let his skin be back to white. Once his skin was back to white, he decided to tour the same places he travelled as a black, only to get a very different response. This time people respected him. Meanwhile, Griffins article was published and was being circulated very well. Griffin was asked to leave the country as a consequence.

This book relates to the American history back inthe 1950s by taking the reader into the Southof the USA, before the Civil Rights Movements took hold. It shows what it was like to be black. In an article written about this book, the author describes, It certainly played an important role in the Civil Rights Movement that was on the point of reaching its apex with the March on Washington in 1963 and the civil rights legislation that ensued. Moreover, through his passing Griffin accomplished another admirable feat, a feat only few people ever accomplished: despite severe internal struggles he managed to unify two apparently irreconcilable identities within himself and merge them into the more exalted identity of being a human being imbedded in his sincere Christianity. (Mller,&Rua)

In the Preface, the author states, "I could have been a Jew in Germany, a Mexican in a number of states, or a member of any 'inferior' group. Only the details would have differed. The story would be the same." The book reveals racism clearly and how it corrupted the values of

society. Each colour had its value, and Griffin portrayed how it was to be either Caucasian or Black in much detail.

During the 1950s, Black people were facing many inequalities in America. One of the biggest issues with race was an issue which led the African Americans to face social, economic, physical and political disadvantages; everyone in power was white while everyone else was being treated with less respect. In the beginning of the book Griffin talks about a case of a black man that had been killed by a white man in the park but they release the white man. This really upsets him because they were not giving the blacks their rights, but if a black man had killed a white then they would sentenced him to jail or even executed him. As Lyman in his article wrote based on Gunnar Myrdals An American Dilemma about the race issue and their difficulties and problem in American society before civil rights movement which they were facing lots of difficulties as socially they were attacked by whites and physically punishments also politically as they were facing social inequalities. (Lyman, 1998)

The novel Black Like Me will affect each reader deeply. Griffin has done the impossible to bring the full effect of racism to the ethics of the America people. Griffin was wondering how these people could be so blind as to not see that a black person breathes the same air, eats the same. But he soon realized that it was not his personality, his age, but his blackness that made him a hateful in the eyes of an average white person. Because after he changed back to a white man, the attitude of everyone had immediately turned, and they treated him well. Griffin felt bad. Also Nelson Mandela the South African president fought all his life for African American rights. He had been in prison long time for black people. (BBC, 2001)

Griffin travels many places and experience and sees many different things that as a white man he couldnt see them. He meets several white men who refer to black men and women in disappointing ways which angers him. Even though some people accepted black community but still they disliked them. As Griffin tours Tuskegee Institute, he encounters a professor who is kind with the black community, who later abuse a black seller, The white man had made the first dirty suggestion that came to his mind. (p.130). In addition, For the white people its alright to have sex and they were treating them as servant but if a black man only glanced on a white woman he may killed.A black man could put his life in jeopardy by merely looking at a white woman the wrong way.(Beverly, 2002).Also in an articles about America in 1950s mentioned this situation in America, it has been mentioned that the young white teens forced the black women to have sex with them or even more than their sex ability. Also it talks about a movie that the race issue is obviously clear in it. (Wendt, 2007)

Throughout the novel, John is stressed and mistreated by whites without reason. In one of his many stops throughout the South, Griffins finds himself on a park bench sitting by a white woman. A white man walks by and says, "You'd better find another place to sit." Even though he had a college degree, menial jobs were all that he could find. As he is in bus they travel to somewhere the bus stops to take a rest but only the whites were allowed to take the rest and stretch their legs and the blacks were forced to stay in the bus. Also when he tries to exit at bus stop, but the white bus driver shuts the door before he can go out. He forced to walk back to his stop. An article in New York Times magazine has been published which states the race issue in use and as the white people was judging on black by their skin color. Also the white had more rights than blacks for example in voting while a black man was candidate himself the white had 18% more votes than him. (Brent Staples, 2008)

Griffin compare black society to animal that they the same as animal they have fear while living like other, but even animals are afraid of their killer but black society fears the WHITE man. They have to fight hard to stay as a Negro I sensed the radiance of it in the stillness, sensed the earthworms that burrowed back into the depths of the furrows, sensed the animals that wandered in the woods in search of nocturnal rut or food. (p.4). This quote also indirectly shows how the black community lives. They Fear of the dangers that wait for them their community, and the worries that shape the mind of black people. Margolies wrote a book about race issue which talks about the Richard Wrights life which an experience about race issue and black people life and the fear that face them in life. Wright's autobiography of his Southern years, serves perhaps as the best point of reference from which to make an examination of his ideas, since, as we have seen, Wright generalizes from his own experiences certain conclusions about the problems of minorities everywhere. (Margolies, 1969) During adverse circumstances, Mr. Griffin saw the reality of the cruel world that he was living in. On his way to Mississippi, he rode on a bus, and there was a ten-minute break. He asked the driver whether he could go to the restroom or not. The driver forbade him and commanded him to go back to his seat. Then, Griffin tries to argue with him. No sir, but the others --- you mean I cant go to the(p. 63) He did not have a chance to argue, because the driver kept on stopping him. From this incident Griffin realized that the blacks always did not have a chance to protest. In addition, after he turned back to a white, in the same place the same people treated him totally different surprisingly! He was so shocked when everyone surrounded him with smiles and courtesy because he forgot that he was not a black. I was the same man who could not possibly have bought his way into this room a week ago (Griffin 122). People

should not judge a man by only skin color. Although they have different colors, it does not represent that they have a bad heart.

Throughout his journey, his opinions about everything changes severely. When he first transformed into a Negro, he was nave, and he was thinking that the whites were rather polite and really kind and care about the black society, but the authors experiences as a black lead him to invent a more accurate opinion about the problem, which. Griffin knew that by exposing the truth, the racial problem in the South would be solved quicker, even if it meant at his sacrifice. He wanted people to understand that there were many unfair cases in the world, but everyone has to be brave to face it. He once read a case from the newspaper. In Mississippi, there was a white man who killed a black man, but he was released. In fact, besides the Deep South, there were many similar cases. Racism is getting more serious in this world. People should care about each other regardless of their nationality, and then the universe will become more pleasant. Moreover, people should learn from Griffins bravery. He was willing to tell everyone what he experienced and how white people do wrong. Everyone should always strive for the rights, which they deserve. I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die. (Nelson Mandela)

Beverly, Michael. (2002). African-American experience in Youngstown 1940-1965. Master of Arts History, Retrieved from Griffin, John. (2004). Black like me. Texas. Mller, Eva, & Rau, Rudolph. (n.d.). An analysis of black like me, including a comparison of black like me with a lesson before dying. Retrieved from Myrdal, Lyman. (1998). International journal of politics, culture, and society. An American Dilemma after a Half Century: Critics and Anticritics Stanford M. Lyman, 12(2), Maroglies, Edward. (1969). The art of richard wright . Retrieved from Nelson mandela - a humanitarian. (2001, August 14). Retrieved from Staples, Brent. (2008, August 22). As racism wanes, colorism persists. New York Times, Retrieved from Nelson mandela. Retrieved at 22 ,January 2011 from Wendt, Simon. (2007). they finally found out that we really are men: violence, non-violence and black manhood in the civil rights era. 19(3), Retrieved from