When Griffindecided to undergo this experiment in Black Like Me, do you think he realized the depth of this change?

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The experiment being referred to here was prompted when a Texan journalist, John Howard Griffin, realized that he could not accurately study the experiences that African Americans living in the US’s South went through without experiencing them first hand. He went into the experiment with a clear vision of what he planned to do, but what I don’t think he realized was the heights, widths, and depths of discrimination in real life.

With the help of a dermatologist, dyes, oral medications, and sun lamps, Griffin took on the appearance of an African American. He then documented his experienced over the next month and a half, during which time he visited cities in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The journals that he wrote provided gut-wrenching lessons about what being non-white during this time meant. The simplest task such as getting a drink of water, using a toilet, or traveling on a bus became fraught with difficulty for Griffin. As a white man, had taken his freedoms for granted.

Despite receiving wide criticism on various grounds, this fascinating book, which first appeared in 1961, ultimately revealed to a white man exactly what it meant to be a black man in the US’s southern states during these tumultuous times.

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