Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin is a controversial and highly detailed account of the experiences of a white man who attempts to put himself in the skin of a black man both in physical appearance and emotionally as he experiences what he believes black men endure in the racially segregated South. His goal is to try to better understand the plight and struggles of black Americans so that he can more effectively advocate for their interests. Overall, Griffin finds the physical transformation much easier to handle than the mental and emotional transition. As he explores what it means to truly be discriminated against and viewed as inferior, he undergoes a transformation of his mind and soul that he never expected to endure.
Griffin anticipated that he would be uncomfortable, but he never realized that he would begin to feel depressed as he experienced all the racist attacks from cruel whites in different public places. He was shocked to find that he was not allowed to use the white restrooms. He also was dissatisfied with his employment opportunities, which he found to be rather limited in his newfound skin. He had never felt so sad in his entire life when he was being discriminated against based on his skin color. He even had to take a break from acting his role due to all the pain and suffering, so he reentered the white world briefly.
An additional transformation that Griffin undergoes is psychologically difficult. He loses touch with the reality of his own identity. He almost forgets who he used to be when he was a white man in the white world. The experience is humbling and confusing for him, too. Shortly after he nearly forgets what it's like to be a white male in society, he cannot tolerate his acting role anymore, and he gladly becomes a white man again.