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Free Study Guide-Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin-Free Booknotes
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THEMES

Major Themes

Theme of White Racism

The book traces, with dark horror and stark brutality, the theme of white racism as it is practiced on the Southern Negroes. It describes, through the eyes of a white journalist, who temporarily transforms himself into a Negro, the blood, sweat and tears of millions of Negroes who are held in slavery and savagery by the policy and practice of segregation. Because of this inhuman, even sub-human racism, the Negroes are denied the very basics of life that the whites happily provide, even for their pets. The Negroes are forced to lead a dogís life for no other reason than the fact that the color of their skin is black. They are nameless and addressed only as "nigger" or "boy,í whatever their age or image. They are considered impure and inferior by the whites, however educated or talented they are. They are threatened and terrorized, however right or polite, courteous or generous they are.


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.

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Free Study Guide-Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin-Free Booknotes
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