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:~:Journal Entries:~:

Post  Admin on Mon May 25, 2009 2:36 pm

Welcome to Perth Amboy High School! I hope you are enjoying a wonderful summer vacation. During this vacation, you are required to complete the following assignment by Sept. 14, 2012. Please review the steps below and and the rubric included in the packet you received at the middle school prior to starting your assignment.

1. You must purchase and read Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin.

2. Write ten journal entries. Options are as follows: either use class website (listed below) or puchase a marble notebook (black and white) to write the entries in. While you are reading this book, you are required to complete 10 journal entries or reflections. Each entry should be at least one (1) page in length (Or seven (7) paragraphs). some ideas for these journals (but not limited to) include:
A) Choose a quote from the novel (or a few sentences from the novel) and respond to it.
B) Write about a character you encounter in the novel.
C) Question the events that occur in the novel.
D) Discuss your feelings about the novel.
E) Compare/contrast the novel witheither prior reading (text to text connection), your interpretation of events in the novel (text to self connection), or implications for these thems (i.e Discrimination) in the world today (text to worked connection)

3. Create a travelogue for the novel. This will include the following items:
A) One poster board containing the items in (b), (c) and (d).
B) 10 Photos that relate to the main character's travels as discussed in the novel (these photos may be dowloaded from the web and cut/paste or drawn if you are an "artist"; no lost of points for either choice.)
C) Ten written (or typed, cut and pasted) descriptions of these photos-must be in your own words (not fro mthe web); length of descriptions is one paragraph each.
D)Itinerary (list) of places the main character visits during the course of the novel (relate to your chosen photos)
You may also use technology to present your travelogue, such as PowerPoint or a brief video or iMovie (no longer than 5 minutes).

4. Write a response to literature (see rubric) of (3) typed pages (or (6) handwritten). answering the questions below.
A)Explain the symbolism of these opening lines to Black Like Me by Langston Hughes: "Night coming tenderly Black like me."
B) How is the novel a "moving yet troubling autobiography"?
C) What is the significance of the title of the novel? Explain the title you would select and why it would be relevant.

5. Be prepared to take a test on Black Like Me within the first week of school.

Website Info: This website is used as part of the PAHS English 9 Honors curriculum. Please consult the PAHS Student Code of Conduct regarding the use of technology. This website is to be used accordance with the policy outlined in this code (I.E no profanity, offensive symbols, words and etc.)


If you plan on using the website you may post the journal entries here. Just hit the "Reply" button and start typing away! To post images, create a posted reply, then look in the toolbar for the 16th icon, which if you scroll over it says, "insert image."

Last edited by MzM on Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:42 pm; edited 5 times in total (Reason for editing : date change)


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More info

Post  MzM on Fri Jul 23, 2010 1:30 pm

For the journal entries, I am looking for your response as a reader, specifically your text connections to yourself, other books you have read that tie into the themes of identity, culture, and loss, as well as any connections you can make to world events through the novel.

As for the photos, you can download them off sites like Google, Photobucket, etc., and either save them on a flash drive or onto your pc in the pictures folder. Then, you can create the travelogue in a way that you feel comfortable, such as printing them out and then creating the collage with descriptions on the photo board, which you can purchase at the dollar store or Walmart (tri-fold cardboard). If you want to use this web site, simply go to "post a reply," just as you did with your message, and if you look on the toolbar, you will see icons (like making the text bold, etc.). If you want to post an image, simply click on the icon that says "insert image" and follow the steps it tells you. I believe this icon is the 16th one of you count from the left of the toolbar.

I have had other students create a mini montage with Prezis, PowerPoint slides or a short video (5 mins) with a presentation of the photos and their thoughts on them, although for this assignment I am not requiring you to use video or PPT.

I hope this info helps. If you have any further ?'s, please email me at: vanemartyniuk@paps.net.



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Darleny Journal #1

Post  darleny_rosa on Sat Aug 27, 2011 1:02 pm


Black Like Me, though a unique portrayal of the constant battle against racism, is not the only book of its kind. Other novels have managed to convey similar messages with characters equally as moving as well as possessing just as much courage as John Howard Griffin. An example of such sort is Harper Lee’s classic To Kill A Mockingbird. The similarities of these two classics reach beyond relative location and central idea. Both books share connections much deeper than that as their words take on life and impact readers.
John Howard Griffin eloquently demonstrates that his desire to execute his believes and getting his point across is far stronger than his fear of the resulting danger in his novel Black Like Me. A similar personality is possessed by Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird. Although defending Tom Robinson exposed Atticus Finch to several threats and triggered ignorant animosity towards him, his stand against racism remained unshaken as he attempted to carry through with the “justice for all” American boasts about. Griffin also neglected to allow the inevitable danger he acknowledged would result from his adventure to stop him from first hand experiencing an injustice whose occurrence was denied by many. Both characters, therefore, were strong willed and stopped at nothing to do everything in their power to get closer to equality amongst all humans despite skin pigmentation.
Another character that could be linked to Atticus Finch is P.D. East a newspaperman and white friend of Griffin. P.D. East began publishing the truth rather than what people wanted to read even if it strongly opposed racism. Due to his courage to print what many feared to say or believe, East received multiple threats that endangered the lives of his family members and himself. This is extremely similar to Atticus Finch who takes the case of Tom Robinson despite threats including being confronted on his front porch one evening. Atticus Finch did what every other lawyer at the time had been afraid to and never did he exert less than one hundred percent of his time, energy and dedication towards winning the case and proving Tom Robinson innocent, even if he was black. Both men display stellar gallantry as they overcome their own fears and the obstacles societies stacks against them to stick with their morals.
Furthermore, similar cases are displayed in both novels. In Black Like Me, beginning on page forty six, details of a case in which a black man was murdered after being deprived of a fair trial are expressed. The excerpt “a man is innocent until proven guilty by a court of law has been flagrantly ignored once again in the State of Mississippi.”(page 47) provoked me to recall the Tom Robinson case of To Kill A Mockingbird where Tom Robinson was obviously innocent yet convicted guilty. Even readers who argue he was been guilty must agree the case should have been dismissed due to lack of substantial proof; yet, because he was black he was condemned prior to the trial commencing. Even though Lee’s book took place in Alabama, Robinson was not innocent until proven guilty for in the entire trial Atticus was attempting to free him of an unearned guilt placed upon him by the unfortunate circumstances of racism.
Additionally, in both books racism condemns black characters to an unhappy life of taking abuse from white people. Lee’s book explains the relevance of its title on page one hundred three when Mrs. Maudie explained “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” I strongly believe Black Like Me is filled with mockingbirds since innocent people who don’t do anything wrong are sinfully harmed by others who claim supremacy based on skin color. In both books the African American characters work twice as hard as the white characters to get only half as far while they struggle to uncover the basis of such ignorant and unearned hatred felt by the vast majority of white men nationwide. Griffin’s novel elaborates on how black men were expected to grin all the time and portray happiness the same way mockingbirds always sing radiating joy. Killing the spirit of black men along with stripping them of their hope and faith in a better tomorrow is just as bad as physically killing them both of which can be symbolized as killing mockingbirds.
Further elaborating, Griffin is similar to Scout in the sense that they both possess an innocence they’re unaware about. Though Griffin is a grown and studied man he is oblivious to the solemnity of racism in the Deep South. It wasn’t until Griffin experienced racism in Mississippi that he realized how intense matters really were. Scout was also unaware of how prejudice people were and she found herself dumbfounded by the Tom Robinson case as she struggled to comprehend hatred lacking cause. Both characters were innocent in regards to racism because they were trapped in white skin that would never allow them to fully comprehend the struggles black men, women and children were forced to endure. If Griffin hadn’t undergone the medical change he did then he would remain ignorant and unable to provide first hand information on the matter.
Towards the conclusion of To Kill A Mockingbird Atticus Finch expressed his desire that Scout avoids becoming infected with Maycomb Disease, referring to prejudice. Prejudice proves itself to be much like a disease as it undesirably spreads and harms the virus’ hosts. Towards the end of Black Like Me it seemed as if the black community was becoming tainted by the same prejudice disease they hated living condemned by as they start detesting the white race. Therefore, these two books possess undeniable similarities as they portray the same anti-racism message through different ways. But, the effect caused by these two classics remains untouched with the passage of time as these two novels continue to impact readers nationwide.

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Journal Entry #1

Post  MarisaAnn on Sun Sep 04, 2011 5:22 pm


To be frank, I was never to fond of nonfiction novels; I always found them a tad bit boring. So when I discovered that my summer reading consisted of such a book, I wasn’t exactly grabbing my pom-poms and cheering with excitement. But to much of my surprise, after reading what this book had to offer, I couldn’t wait to stick my nose in it. Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin compelled me unlike the other non fiction novels that are dull and lack a good story, you see, Black Like Me is about a white journalist who poses as a colored man during the 1950s to learn about the lifestyle differences between the two races. In all honesty, if I just read the synopsis, I would have thought this book was fiction. But since this book actually depicts real life events, it makes it much more appealing, possibly making my previous perception of non-fiction novels a thing of the past.
First off, the plot is simply astonishing. I sincerely can’t describe how stellar this story seemed to me right off the bat. Personally I find that a white journalist, John Howard Griffin, disguising himself as a colored man during the 1950s is just so daring, and provoking that I am craving this book like a woman craves chocolate. Before even opening up to the first page, I wondered how John Howard Griffin’s plan would play out. Would he share this idea with others? How will this impact his life? How will he adjust to the new-found attention and treatment he receives from others? My oh my, I have so many questions that I’m itching, literally itching, to know how this all plays out.
Now before I dive into the novel I will like to share some of my predictions that I feel may unravel while I read further into this book. First off, and most obviously, this situation is defiantly going to affect the protagonist John Howard Griffin. From what I know about the 1950s, colored people were still segregated and discriminated against the general population. This was a few years before the Civil Rights movement, therefore I would assume the events entailed in this novel would be before colored men and women began to really fight for their rights. Basically the point I’m trying to get across is that John Howard Griffin may be shocked by the cruelty he will come across with this journey. This ultimately will change him as a person when it comes to how he treats others, and in the end trying to make a change in the brutal society he lives in.
To continue with my string of accusations, I do believe the John Howard Griffin will become open to some people about who he really is under his “new skin.” Now I am not saying that he will strut into the middle of the street and exclaim that he is truly a white man under colored skin, but I do strongly believe that his friends, family, and colleagues will be notified about his changes. (Who knows, maybe he’ll tell a few people on the way!) Yet whatever the case may be, he is bound to share his ideas with someone. Oh, and another thing, I do think that he may come across some trouble on the way. I find that during this time period, colored people were wrongfully accused and treated unfairly, so I think John Howard Griffin will cross this path throughout the story. In addition to my list of accusations, I do find that John Howard Griffin will too walk as a white man along his travels. I feel this will help him sort out the differences of being white man vs. a black man in the Deep South.
Wow, as I write this so many questions and ideas fill through my head, it is insane how much this book has me thinking. I mean, doesn’t it amaze you how this man is transforming his life to prove a point? He is leaving and sacrificing all he has, to jump into a new skin and lead a completely new life. I just can’t wrap my head around it. I mean if that were I, I would be afraid to leave my comfortable lifestyle and jump into a place where now I am watched, and monitored, and not allowed to lead my life the way I want. It’s like taking a cat that has all the freedom they could have and then trapping in a concealed box, with limited space and comfort. How can one adjust to such a new surrounding and way of life?
If I was in John Howard Griffin’s shoes, I would be very fearful of what awaits for me in the Deep South. All he was used to, whatever it may be is probably a million times more humane and comfy then what he will soon face. He will have to dodge the name-calling, all negative acts against him, the new ways of life, new rules, and the friends and foes he will make along the way. He is basically stepping into a whole new life sort of like, and as cliché as this sounds, Hannah Montana. I am really looking forward to seeing how John Howard Griffin handles this journey, I mean, will he succeed, or will he break?
Well journal, I guess my first impressions and thoughts on this novel are all wrapped up. So far all I’ve done is judged the book by its cover, therefore I’m psyched to open up and begin my reading adventure. Nonetheless, Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin is truly a refreshing read for me since I’m pretty accustomed to fiction novels, and I am excited to see how it turns out. I must admit I have really high expectations for this book, I expect complete and absolute greatness. So I log out of journal entry one with a firm hope that the next few days will be filled with an excellent, moving, and intense read!


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Black Like Me 10 journal entries

Post  jaimenufio16@gmail.com on Wed Sep 05, 2012 11:05 am

Jaime Nufio
“Black Like Me”

Entry 1:
Option A: Quote/Selection
“"I had seen them before from the high altitude of one who could look down and pity. Now I belonged here and the view was different.” (Page 18)

I chose this quote because of its versatility. Not once does it mention race. Not once does it mention social classes. It simple mentions a division between mankind. I think our country’s forefathers had it right to say all men are born equal. You come into this world screaming a confused, slowly developing a worldview that will never be identical to anyone else. You develop your thoughts from memories, experiences, and teachings. You are not simple flesh and blood, you are a consciousness, ever wondering, ever learning, ever developing. All men and women are equal in that they have that gift of a consciousness.
However, humans, as a species, have an inherently selfish nature. We want to reign supreme and to conquer our enemies all in a futile attempt at achieving glory, or being remembered, or simply proffit. Rarely do we step down from our high tower and see what we are truly worth, and how others may be more worthy than yourself. Arrogance is a virus we are all consumed by and it is the root of all evil: that which makes us believe others are undeserving. How often does the king ask how his servants day was? The reason is simple: We are selfish, we want for ourselves and rarely think of others.
Unfortunately, this has caused us to warp our perspective on “different” people. Be it color, race, gender, sexuality or religious and political views, we tilt in favor of our own social group/world. Take for example, The Crusades, a war fought over a land no one man truly holds claim to. Christians believed that the land belonged to themselves because of their faith, and anyone who opposed was committing a heresy. Coincidentally, the Islamic side of the conflicts believed the contrary. These people were different in color, language, and culture but were divided over a belief. They thought the opposite was somehow lesser, and unfit. When we discuss separating man as alpha and beta, we often forget that its not the fact they are colored, or that they are different, its the belief that different is somehow worse.
Coincidentally, people have used their ignorance, and even faith as grounds to treat others unjustly. Slavery--not just in the America--for it has existed far before our nation, is perhaps the example we jump to. The word “Animal” is often used to mean uncultured, or even quite literally “inhuman”, and this is what made it horrible. Slavery is the act of stripping humanity from a man and giving him the respect of a common farm animal. How horrible it must be to have your humanity taken away, just when you needed it the most. When we speak of segregation we mustn't simply speak of black and white, we must speak of Man A vs Man B.

Jaime Nufio
“Black Like Me”

Entry 2:
Option A: Quote/Selection
"What do you see as our biggest problem, Mr. Griffin?" Mr. Gayle asked. "Lack of unity." (Page 32)

My views on ideas like that of unity, peace, and utopia is rather cynical. Perhaps because of my general pessimism towards most things, or perhaps because the last couple of leaders to claim to create unity were directly in charge of both mass-imprisonment, slavery and genocide. However simple it might be to sell an idea of hope, or a stop to war (which ironically, often leads to more), not everyone will believe it, and unity isn’t true if its not literally unanimous. Of course you could unite nations, instead of the people themselves, but that’s not unity. That’s a mutual agreement of non-hate for the individual nations selfish purposes to get ahead of one-another, not an attempt at peace.
Mankind has a lust for power. We yearn to be special, we want to be greater than those before us and after. We give ourselves rankings, divide ourselves by religious, political views, and by our gender and race. Ever since we gave up the hunter-gatherer lifestyle, for that of agriculture we also began to judge by appearance. We build walls around ourselves to hide our social insecurity, and to give ourselves the illusion that we are superior. In life we are not all winners, in fact, there are a great deal more losers than winners. By following this logic, its not hard to assume why a culture that, in the past, has almost exclusively dealt with people of white skin thought that those with dark skin are different and somehow left. We like to tell ourselves we are civil beings, who have gone a long way in terms of ethical in the 200,000 years we have been a species. Its all to ignore the notion that we are still very primitive.
Governments cannot have true unity, while remaining ethically neutral. A totalitarian government is perhaps the closest we have come to unity in a single nation. However, they are often unfair to their people, and end up abusing the people they are meant to serve. Lets take communism for example, an abusable system that has left the government's people in the dark of their nations true status. Given $1000 and entrusted a meal for 9 other people, do you each get a $100 meal, or do you give them each a $20 and run off with $820 for yourself?
Perhaps I’m being too rash by jumping to the worse incidents and skipping over the ones that are genuinely considered to bring peace, and spread hope, and faith among people: religion. I don’t mean to insult anyone's personal beliefs, but faith has been used by many as a tool for unity. Depending on how you view religion, its either a quest for truth, or a web of lies. I say the latter because far too often people use faith as a justification for their actions. Consider the American westward expansion, a rise in American territory that left many native cultures crippled or dead. Because of this, America tripled in size in less than 100 years. The religious propaganda that stated it was the God-given American right to conquer the whole of America had united the nation into a single goal. Is it justified to manipulate the beliefs of a nation to achieve peace and prosperity? If so, what does that say for free will and honesty?

Jaime Nufio
“Black Like Me”
Entry 3:
Option A: Quote/Selection

“The Negro’s only salvation from complete despair lies in his belief, the old belief of his forefathers, that these things are not directed against him personally, but against his race, his pigmentation. His mother or aunt or teacher long ago carefully prepared him, explaining that he as an individual can live in dignity, even though he as a Negro cannot. “They don’t do it to you because you’re Johnny- they don’t even know you. They do it against your Negro-ness” (page 46)
We as a species, collectively seem to hate ideas rather than their substance. We don’t know why, it’s just simpler for us to blame something that to either claim fault, or resolve the situation. From the issue of the influence of media on a child’s mind, to the “Teach the controversy” debate, it’s simpler for us to blame a certain idea or belief than to find a viable solution. Great nations have gone to war to defend their honor and beliefs. However, more declare war based on their beliefs to defend them, or even exterminate those of others. Take for example America’s “War on Terror”. The objective seems very odd, defeating terror by attacking the middle east? How? Seems more likely that it was a ploy to scare people. Terrorism is bad, but is it really fair to basically occupy a nation to control its activity, just to stop what can be planned by three guys in a basement? Its is perhaps the most modern example of the influence ideas have on a people.
Lets look at the next obvious example, racism. Racism is an evil without justification. To hate another man for his color--a matter no man has a say in to begin with-- is unjust, and inhuman. However, racism is more than the act of treating others lesser than yourself for trivial issues, its the idea that they are worth less. The obvious problem with racism is the dehumanization, of a fellow human being, which is silly because you are more than flesh and blood, and you’re memories. You are the awareness; you are the consciousness that embodies your, well, body. The moment that is taken away from you, you are in some respect less human, and that should have never been allowed to happen.
Blind hate is interesting in that it is its own justification, the mother of all fallacys. Often it is followed not because the perpetrator chose to, but because its just how it’s always been. If you were born into a world where it was normal to treat those of colored skin unjustly, you will most likely do so yourself. That being said, if circumstances remain unchanged you will upbring your children in the belief that the other people are worth less than yourself. This gets done for a few generations, and the idea grows to the point of it being socially required, and not just accepted. The idea grows from a strange mixture of a thought inbreeding and circle jerk.
So how does this all connect? Well, for starters people are governed by social norms and ideas. We go to great lengths to support what we believe, in some cases even give sacrifices (both, literal and figurative). However, the beliefs are often not justified, and forced by media, government, or even through culture. More often than not we think we chose what is the one and only truth; we cannot be more wrong. What you hold as the real truth is a personal truth, something you hold dearly because you have trust, hope, or faith in. These people didn’t so much choose to hate ‘the Negroes’, but were forced into it because they were lead to believe it was ‘normal’.

Jaime Nufio
“Black Like Me”
Entry 4:
Option A: Quote/Selection

“He who is less than just is less than man.” (Page 55)

When we speak of animals in literature we speak in such a way to distance ourselves--to contrast our humble origins to our glorious current status. To us animals are a reminder of our less than great distant genetic ancestor, we try to avoid the subject like that weird uncle your family uses as the bad example. We get lost in our self importance and it becomes a matter of “us and they”. Unfortunately, whatever border we set up between humankind and any other form of biological life are purely figurative (with the exception of knowledge, agriculture and arguably the state of being sentient). Man is an idea, man is the belief that humans are superior to their brethren species because of the ability of understanding and following ethics. A man without respect for his fellow man is not a man at all.
What this quote is saying is how barbaric the idea of suppressing another man truly is. When you bring someone down to a status of being worth less than you, the reason typically is to bring yourself up. This isn’t exactly the most efficient way to bring about self respect, but it is the fastest and simplest. It’s in our nature to act rather, to use the metaphor above ironically, animalistic. We steal what we need, abuse resources for luxury, and then often just for the fun. We live to conquer and our past has only supported that fact. Be it the natural world, the science of it, or its fellow inhabitants we are essentially those worlds conquers. Add that to the fact that we are quick to betray our fellow man, these facts only serves to prove our very much still animal like characteristics.
More so, it is not you who determines your value, but everyone around you. This is a double edged sword in that you may have turned your life around after a dark period of time, but if people see you as the same person you were, you are also only respected as such. In the same way, you are allowed to judge people and respect them as you see fit based on past, present, and possible future actions, despite an appearance of nobility. Racism arises when a group decides another group is subordinate, and it becomes a hive mind belief that this is true. You may influence how people view you, but never think you have a final say in the matter.
Unfortunately this quote is fundamentally flawed in differentiating man from beast. We live in delusion that our lives are worth more than animals simply because they are. There was a role of dominant species open, and we gladly accepted it. However, we are sick and cruel rulers and we tarnish that which we have worked so hard to earn over the course of 200,000 years. We use the metaphor of humanity vs animals because to us animals are worth less, and in our hubris we assume we are special.

Jaime Nufio
“Black Like Me”
Entry 5:
Option A: Quote/Selection

“Well,” I heard a man behind me say softly but firmly, “if I can’t go in there, then I’m going in here. I’m not going to sit here a bust.”

“Lets all do it,” a man said.
“Yeah, flood this buys and end all this damned foolishness” (Page 61)

Perhaps I’m being a bit facetious, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get even remotely amused. The idea of public urination as a protest? it sounds like satire. But maybe there is more to say about this crude attempt at revolution. These people have been mistreated by their equals over a trivial issue. They most likely have grown very desperate and seeked equality. However, I don’t believe filling a bus with urine would amount to much more than an interesting bar story for the janitorial staff on why they are right in their belief that darker skinned people are worth less.
One of the reasons racism has lasted this long was the rise of power of one party over the other. Consider two men drinking while playing darts (or any game that requires so coordination), if a shot is missed, the man drinks and the other man gets a turn. However, once you began to lose, you will most continue losing due to not being all there at the moment. What I’m saying is that when an idea exists in the public, it will either die or grow exponentially. Seeing as the previous century leaned heavily in favor of white people’s social value, those of darker skin were treated as lesser.
The white population considered themselves to be the superior, and in their false superiority there was a hive mind that backed their belief up with the lie that everyone who wasn’t them was somehow lesser. Rarely do we step down from our ivory towers; the view is just so beautiful. We couldn’t imagine sharing it, let alone giving it up, but we have no reason for this. We tell a lie to convince ourselves of this, however we indulge in it too long. What was once a simple excuse becomes a reality, and made us, as a species, monsters. I’m reminded of the quote “Any community that gets its laughs by pretending to be idiots will eventually be flooded by actual idiots who mistakenly believe that they're in good company”.
Back to the quotation, racism in voting was fixed over 80 years previous to this book, however segregation was not. Perhaps these are not the torture endured by their ancestors, but they are social injustices nonetheless. It would drive you mad not being able to go to the bathroom, walk into a shop, or sit on a park bench for your skin color. Skin color, one of the few attributes that are both irreversible, and entirely not your fault in every conceivable way. I imagine it to be similar to that kid on the playground who was shunned for his new shoes. He couldn’t very well reject them, his parents bought them. So he must bear being a social outcast for such a trivial thing. The two situation are not 100% similar, but the theme are the same: Society being absurdly cruel over amazingly arbitrary things.

Jaime Nufio
“Black Like Me”

Entry 6:
“Why do they do it? Why do they keep us like this? What are they gaining? What evil has taken them?” (Page 67)

Have you ever found yourself doing something without reason? I don’t mean getting up, walking out of the room and forgetting why, I mean little redundant rituals in your daily life, something strange in culture that no one brings up. Take for example saying “god bless you” or “Gesundheit” after someone sneezes. I don’t see any practical reason, and it says nothing at all. No conversation builds from saying “god bless you”, “good luck”, or “good night”, they aren’t even compliments, they are empty phrases with no purpose besides being polite. No one says anything about it, though--it’s not worth the effort and is really meaningless. Nevertheless we just go along with it, we go along with it not thinking why anything exists and its particular manor/shape/form. Its just ‘a thing’, when someone comes across ‘a thing’ they just go “eh, that’s a thing” and go on with their day, without ever thinking about that thing again as it fades away from relevance.
Racism was basically one of those thing people rarely bothered to question. It was just that weird injustice that people were used to. If you were raised believing that others were inferior to you for a trivial issue, you aren’t going to refute that. Not only is it a belief you were raised with, but it is also one that raises your self-esteem (albeit, for the wrong reason). Albert Einstein once said that common sense is just the collection of prejudices upto the age of eighteen; I believe this was the case with racism. Racism didn’t continue because of the need to bring down the african race, but because it was a norm. We do not choose what we believe, our beliefs slowly creep in and make a home in our minds. Fortunately, our species is great at critical thinking, and we eventually come to our senses.
We often don’t reflect why we do things, or why they are the way they are. Much of it is easily traceable, however some of it isn’t. I can assume the growth in use of technology is related to the recent developments in both making electronics cheaper, and efficient both in terms of size and utility. However the reason for the popularity of Apple’s products has a more social explanation. People buy apple products because other people consider them somewhat of a social commodity. Apple Products are expensive, look nice, and a general neat item to own. When you think about top of the line computers, the general consumer thinks “Hmm, the future is supposed to look sleek, silver, and minimalistic. Apple products seem futuristic”, rather than considering a self built computer with top of the line parts. If you happen to own an IPod, chances are you bought one more so for their popularity, than specifications ( we wouldn’t want to be caught dead with a zune, now would we?). You didn’t decide for yourself, society did. Much for the same reason people will tend to favor Facebook to Google+.
When you hold a belief (or bias, in this case) you will do whatever you can to defend it. It’s a personal bias, we tend to hold on to our personal beliefs dearly and do what we can to repel contradictory thoughts. Instead of critically analyzing the circumstances, you try to wrap your head around and idea, rather than rewrite your current assessment of the situation. If you live in a world where it is a second nature to hate people of darker skin, you will probably go along with it. Of course, the hate isn’t personal, just a sort of social brainwashing. They don’t hate the individuals they hate what they are, and that is only because they were told that is “normal”. It's hard to kill an idea once it’s made a home.

Jaime Nufio
“Black Like Me”

Entry 7:
“At such a time, the Negro can look at the starlit skies and find that he has, after all, a place in the universal order of things. The stars, the black skies affirm his humanity, his validity as a human being. He knows that his belly, his lungs, his tired legs, his appetites, his prayers and his mind are cherished in some profound involvement with nature and God. The night is his consolation. It does not despise him.” (Page 119)

This had to be on my list of quotations for two reasons. Primarily, it is said at a moment where Griffin had realized how the negro survived being hated, and secondarily for the book’s title explanation. How else could someone live a prosperous life knowing that whatever they did, most wherever they were, they’d be ridiculed for no reason besides their skin's pigment. Where does a man turn when he has nowhere left to turn? The truth is, we all find consolation in different things, and John Griffin had stumbled upon his own. He knew that even though he was viewed as a worthless person, he still had value in a greater world view. He knew
One of my favorite authors, John Green, once said “[This] is how we muddle through as observers of the universe, forging meaning where we can find it, from fact and fiction alike.”, and I think that’s the case here. We all need something to fall back on when we are alone, and lost of hope. Where some men find consolation in hope and faith, others find it in worldly things, or family. These are the things we think about late at night when we worry for the future. We all hold that one belief we stick to in times of despair, and no one could ever take that away from you. Its what keeps us up when we see no reason to be other than down.
The title of the book is drawn from the lines that preceded these words, an excerpt from “Dream Variations” by Langston Hughes. The lines read, “Night coming tenderly, a tall slim tree, night coming tenderly, black like me”. The connection that Griffin makes is that the night is a consolation to the suppressed Negro, a sort of haven for them. It understands what is to be like them, but at the same time isn’t. It never judges, it never bolsters it just is there accepting them for whatever they are. Not only that, but it also accepts Negro and Whites equally, only supporting the idea that man shouldn’t be separated by silly things such as a pigment of skin.
Taking this title one step forward, it could also relate to the books plot itself. In its essence, this book is about a white man masquerading as someone he is not in order to understand them, while becoming one of them along the way. Think about the title for a minute, it’s not a study on them as you’d expect from a white man from this era, it’s a legitimate attempt to understand them. Had it been the other way, the book would have been titled “Black Like Them” and not “Black Like Me”. Yet it's not, it’s “Black Like ME”, he has become part of them. He knew their struggle, and had grown to understand how they dealt with it. The change from White to Negro was more than a physical one, it was a mental one as well.

Jaime Nufio
“Black Like Me”

Entry 8:
“I was the same man, whether white or black. Yet when I was white, I received the brotherly-love smiles and the privileges from whites and the hate stares or obsequiousness from the Negroes. And when I was a Negro, the whites judged me fit for the junk heap, while the Negroes treated me with great warmth.” (Pg 126)

An obvious theme in this book, and in my journals is that at the core level, everyone is essentially the same. You are born as a blank slate, and any fact or view about yourself are wholly unique and set there by none other than your actions and the experiences you have had. Do you ever look around in a crowd and realize “everyone one here has a unique story”, but as imaginative as you may be, you will most likely not know these people any better than your immediate judgment of their physical self. It’s irritating enough to think of how important your life is to yourself, but to a random person you’re basically ‘that bloke in a blue t-shirt on the bus’. I cannot imagine the burden of a person who had to live their entire life not only being thought of only as their skin color, and also being shunned for it.
I’ve always been fond of the idea of the “ghost in the machine”, a metaphorical view of on what a consciousness is. The idea is a very interesting take on mind-body dualism, and is essentially the argument I take against racism. The most logical way to look at a person is as their personality and character traits, anything besides these two are basically trifling issues not worth more than a few seconds of your time. Aristotle once said that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and although it is not 100% relevant, it does describe the concept well. You are more than your physical self. I’m not necessarily talking about a soul, but a consciousness. The greatest evil you can do to another is strip them of the acknowledgment that on the most basic level, they are your equal.
I may be going in a oddly convoluted philosophic direction with this understanding, but it all links back to the idea of profiling. When you generalize people for their immediate traits, you automatically tell them they are those traits. You do to them what a person does to himself when he puts on a mask, you strip away the individuality. What the anonymous man has that the suppressed man doesn’t is the right to speak his mind free of him being grouped into a social grouping. Anonymity allows opinions to be heard, without any prior bias.
Take for example, the type and font used for any given text. The line “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog”, is often used to portray what each letter of the alphabet would appear in a font. However, the line still carries a meaning that is entirely absolute, regardless of any added bells and whistles. Any other treatment of the phrase that exceeds accepting what it means is entirely up to preference, and although it may be fine to dislike certain fonts without harm, this is a dangerous train of thought when it comes to fellow humans.

Jaime Nufio
“Black Like Me”

Entry 9:
“Didn't Shakespeare say something about 'every fool in error can find a passage of Scripture to back him up'? He knew his religious bigots” (Page 136)

Have you ever found yourself doing something you knew yourself you should not be doing? I don’t mean the times when you come to your senses and stop, I mean the times you talk yourself into going through with it. The times where you went, “It’s not that awful, and if don’t do it someone else will.”, or “No would notice, it’d be as if nothing had happened”. You found some logic to back up your belief that this would be a fundamentally o.k. idea, instead of reflecting on the different perspectives, you sullied in your own sophistry simply for the reassurance. Rarely do we play the devil’s advocate against ourselves, we are too self-important to acknowledge we are incorrect.
When the first Americans saw that in order to grow as a nation, they’d need to conquer a great portion of the continent; they justified this by saying the christian god demanded it and called it “Manifest Destiny”. When the Nazi’s decided that the Aryan race was superior, they convinced people that the right thing to do was to eradicate those who weren’t part of it; they called it “Racial Cleansing” and insisted it was for the good of the human race. When racial segregation peaked in the 1950’s it was justified as being the natural order of things, and in some cases what god wanted. Whether if these events would have played out well in the future, we shall never know. What we can do however is reflect on how many “good ideas” were fueled by horrible motives and fallacious arguments.
Another problem about beliefs that are held to dearly, is the bigots. When you hold an unwavering set of moral values it becomes difficult for people who share those beliefs to grow mentally. Societies grow, and what was ethically wrong/right changes as the time goes on. If we hold beliefs from the past to be absolute, we end up not being to progress. More so, if they are socially accepted as no longer applicable, someone can always quote them later. Take the Old Testament from the Holy Bible, it strictly holds that we must not work on the Sabbath (Sunday), but we do so anyways, claiming its an outdate custom. However, it’s alright to oppress the LGBTQ community for a law described in the same book (I mean book as in, Leviticus, or Genesis and not book as in the entirety of the bible.). No ethical law is absolute, and we are always wrong when we believe otherwise.
Another problem with holding absolute truths that can be misquoted, is that sometimes they simply aren’t reliable. Take for example the unholy number of the christian faith, six-hundred and sixty-six. Many people will cringe at seeing this number, denouncing anything bearing it as evil. Not many people know that it is not only taken out of context, but a mistranslation. It is believed to originally have been a riddle, the answer to it being King Nero. It makes sense to want portray a bad ruler as the villain of your people, we still do this today. More So, the actual number is also believed to be 616, the original translation is. However, if anyone would find it favorable to claim something with the number six hundred and sixty six is the work of the devil, they will most likely simply do that, rather than do any research. To people, a truth is only a truth if it supports their agenda, even for the outdated ones.

Jaime Nufio
“Black Like Me”

Entry 10:
“The Negro doesn’t understand the white any more than the white understands the Negro”

I like to think this quote summarizes the book very well. Racism had divided the American people into colors, separating legitimate arguments into categories of “White state of mind” and “Black state of mind”. This continues even today, we look upon the the segregation laws of the 1950’s and we see ignorant people with a lump of coal where a heart should be. Yet we still had the John Griffins, whom believed the Negro was equal to the White. We cannot assume what people have to say based on the most popular opinion of their class, and for the same reason we cannot dismiss opinions simply because the group the person belongs to has a bad reputation.
Ignorance is a huge problem that leads to communication. We don’t see other people’s culture for what they are, and instead look at them through biased understandings. Take Islam after 9/11. Of all people who were ever part of that culture, an infinitesimally small portion were involved, yet for a time after most of America associated actions like of that day to the entire culture. George Bush gave a speech a few days later, trying to separate our two cultures (which is awful foreign policy) and actually said “Our god is the god that named the stars”, although ⅔ of the stars were named by Arabs. Not only that, but we owe them a great deal in the works of mathematics, physics, medicine, and astronomy. We get so caught up in emotion (hate, fear, pity) we forget to acknowledge the deeds of others and just think of them as the bias that affects them. George Bush was clearly guilty of this.
Another problem with people not understanding one another is the poor communication that is developed. At what point does helping the disabled become condescending? If we try to hard to be racially neutral, we begin to be condescending. Take for example all of these journals I wrote for this assignment. Not once did I use the term “African-American”, and this was purposely. That phrase wreaks of pity, a poor attempt to attach the African race to the American one, almost as to say “We are sorry for all the years of poor treatment, but hey now you’re part of us!”. However it does just the opposite; and it only separates them.Why can’t we just say African? My family has hispanic culture, but I’m not referred to as a “Hispanic-American”. Perhaps I am reading too deep into this but what I mean to say is that if we want to get past racism we need to drop the whole “Political Correct” act, we should be comfortable with terms to describe our race (granted, slurs should probably still be inappropriate).
More often than not, arguments are based on miscommunication. This coincidentally leads to a multi-partied view on the issue, which will eventually be condensed into simply two parallel views. Most people will simply stick to a nature of bigotry, refusing to decline any aspect of their personal argument as possibly incorrect, claiming ignorance of those who don’t accept their view. We yell ignorant, when we ourselves refuse to look at the other side of the coin. A heated debate sparks and at one point we are no longer allowed to speak our opinions because we become part of the conglomeration of Side A, while everyone else is Side B. The very problem we seek to resolve is stopping us from doing so.


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Black Like Me-10 Journals, Angela Febres

Post  angelafebres on Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:23 pm

Angela Febres
Journal 1

To begin, when I was first told I would have to read Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin, I inwardly cringed. As a reader, I enjoy reading sci-fi and realistic fiction books. I have an aversion to anything nonfiction. I feel like often the authors of nonfiction books simply write to state facts. They have no underlying reasons as to why they write; they lack passion. I believe that everything we write has to have a passion. If not, we are simply wasting time and paper.
Anyhow, when I first read the synopsis for Black Like Me, I was instantly drawn to the plot and what it had to offer. Somehow I knew that this wasn’t going to be a book that simply stated facts about what happened during the fifties and sixties. This was going to be a book with crude and raw emotions. I like the fact that John Howard Griffin wasn’t going to simply sugar coat everything. I was going to receive unfeigned information.
Upon first picking up the book and reading the preface, I was already sucked in. As I kept reading, I couldn’t believe the truths that stared at me in the face so blatantly. I also couldn’t believe the oppression the Negroes were under. When I was taught about the discrimination of blacks, the degree of poverty and emotional pain these people suffered was not fully disclosed to me. For example, on page twenty-seven we see John H. Griffin’s new friend, Joe, begin to cook his lunch (which he will share with John and another companion) on “a bent coat hanger…as a grill.” Then, when they’re all done eating, they give their remains (which were already remains) to a beggar. I like the line John Howard Griffin uses to describe the misery and poverty of it all: “We, who were reduced to eating on the sidewalk, were suddenly elevated in status by this man’s misery,” (pg. 27). When I read this part, my heart was just broken at the way these people lived.
As I progressed in my reading, I realized that I really like how John Howard Griffin is extremely detailed. If he meets someone new, he will describe everything about them. I find that even though John Howard Griffin didn’t have the intention of publishing his journal when he first wrote it, he still narrates very well. I also like how he’s not afraid of describing what he once thought when he was white, and how his perspective changes. A great example of this is when John H. G. is in Mobile, Alabama. He mentions how when he went there as a white man, he didn’t really think much about the way black men at work were treated. But then, as a black man, this whole new perspective is opened up for him. He begins to see the oppression within the work force for blacks.

Angela Febres
Journal Entry 2

While reading Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin, there were many times in which snippets or miniscule phrases impacted me. When I first began to read the novel, I thought that I would never be able to connect to John Howard Griffin or his experience. I’m sure that just about everyone and anyone who hears the synopsis thinks it will be a book that is way out there. But I think that with a minimum of five pages into the book, I found my first of many connections.
On page eleven, John Howard Griffin writes, “I had tampered with the mystery of existence and I had lost the sense of my own being. This is what devastated me. The Griffin that was had become invisible.” For someone who reads without analyzing or who takes thing too literally, this phrase might lead them to think that Griffin hated blacks or some other blasphemous thing. But when you truly begin to think, you realize that this is a man that has been white for his whole lifetime. That is all he has ever known. His whole being has received courteous and honorable treatment. But now, he knows he will have to face something no one could have ever prepared him for. Therefore, he is not discriminating against blacks; he’s simply feeling the weight of the situation.
Due to the fact that “whiteness” is all John Howard Griffin has known, he feels as if he has lost a part of him that cannot be recuperated. That’s why John writes, “…I had lost the sense of my own being…” (pg. 11). We all like and find security in knowing who we are. When we lose this, it feels as if something has been gripped and stolen from us, leaving a feeling of emptiness within us. John feels encased or trapped in this strange Negro, “with whom … [he] felt no kinship,” (pg. 10).
One time, I felt as if I had lost myself/my identity. Anyone who knows me, knows that I play the piano. Around June 2011, I began to play the piano in our main morning services. Soon enough, we'd be opening a church in Elizabeth and I assumed I would play there too. I felt like my life couldn’t get better. My pastor called me “his pianist.” To me, no greater pride could be felt. But after a while, I began to play less and less, and eventually, starting in December 2011, I was replaced.
For a while, I was angry. I felt sorrow. I cried. I felt like a huge part of who I was had been torn from me. When I was home, all I would do was practice the piano. I remember I would stay up until almost 2:00am, simply practicing to get better. It seemed as if it had all been for nothing. At one point, I even just decided to quit altogether. I was no longer “the pianist.”
Of course, now I understand what happened. To begin with, I’m not even that great. Giancarlo, the guy that replaced me, is amazing. His ear is so musically trained that he can get any song, by ear, in about a minute. And second of all, my head was growing quite a bit.
To finish off, I’d like to say that maybe losing our identity for a bit can be a humbling experience. In John Howard Griffin’s case, he got to see beyond the looking glass. He found out what it was like to be a Negro, someone who was hated for something as simple as the color of his/her skin. In my case, I definitely learned that I’m not the best and that even when you think you’ve learned it all, there is always something more to learn. It may be painful, and it may be heartbreaking, but it is only temporary. And just like any trial, time and perseverance help to overcome it.

Angela Febres
Journal 3

Recently, I finished reading Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin. As I finished the book, I had several thoughts and reactions to not only the epilogue, but the book itself too. For one, I really enjoyed the book. Racism is not something that has been completely abolished. There is still a remnant of people who fail to truly understand that equality is not determined by the color of one’s skin, someone’s ethnicity, etc. Black Like Me is a book that, even though written quite some time ago, teaches a universal message. When you read the book, you can truly see how Griffin was able to not only see, but also live, through another’s eyes. He broke the race barrier and put himself in a black person’s shoes, something no one had ever accomplished.
Upon finishing the book, I also really enjoyed how Griffin carried himself after returning to his white identity. Like it says in the preface, “This began as a scientific research study of the Negro in the South…But I filed the data and here publish the journal of my own experience…as a Negro.” I like the fact that Griffin publishes something so personal. He doesn’t decide to give the whites the information they want, but rather breaks their faulty concepts. And even after he returns to the white life, he doesn’t forget what he experienced, but embraces it.
Another thing that really touched my heart was how John Howard Griffin attempted to close the gap between the blacks and the whites. He was that voice in between that many feared to be. This was something that could bring dangerous repercussions not only for him but for his family also. In the book itself, Griffin narrates, “…a great many people loathed us…,” (pg. 171). Several times, Griffin, his family, and his parents were threatened to the point of death, by regular white people and the Klan. Many of the civil rights advocates put themselves and their loved ones at risk, just because they wanted a better America.
Lastly, I like how John Howard Griffin was humble and willing enough to place himself in that position. It wasn’t as if someone forced him or gave him the idea. He was willing and realized that he truly “…knew nothing of the Negro’s real problem,” (pg.2). I think that this was part of what fueled him to go on to complete this project. He wanted to experience, feel, and see what the Negro experienced, felt, and saw. I also find joy in the fact that he was able to not be like the rest of his race. He was an individual, not a face in a crowd of many.
Overall, I can honestly say that I really enjoyed the book and would definitely recommend it to someone else. I can honestly also say that Black Like Me really stands out amongst the African American and Civil Rights genre of books. It doesn’t only talk about the oppression blacks faced, but their emotions and thoughts during this too.

Angela Febres
Journal 4

As I reflect on the compelling journey of reading Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin, I realize that there were some things that caused my mind to halt. Many times, this was due to shock, but other times I was simply touched or in awe by the rawness of some of these lines. Several times, I found myself questioning various events within the book. Often, I found myself so enveloped and involved with the book, that I would feel an unexplainable rage towards the white, or sympathy for John Howard Griffin or many of the people he encountered of the black race.
One of the lines that really grasped my attention as I read the book was on page 143, and it says, “…every citizen has to live up to his duties of citizenship.” As I read this, I began to truly question several things. I began to ponder about what kind of duties a citizen would have in the 1960s in America. I began to realize that if society had not been warped by racism, a regular citizen’s duties could consist of raising up strong and independent children, maintaining their family, and other simple virtues. Instead, most white people had these duties: to make sure their children did not have contact with blacks and to make sure blacks were kept inferior. I can almost completely picture it, the self-loathing Negros wondering why they have been cursed with such lives and the whites planning to only make it worse.
As I kept thinking, I began to wonder something else. Why were the whites confusing the “duties of citizenship” with their prejudice views? Does having such a strong hate towards another smudge the line between manners and the abomination of a race? As I truly began to contemplate this, I realized that yes, racism completely distorts one’s views. A connection that many Twilight fans would understand, would be that racism is like a vampire’s poison; once it is spread, it is difficult to get rid of. As a matter of fact, racism is not like a poison, I truly think it is poison to not only the person it infects, but society too.
The last observation I made had to do with the part of the line that states, “…every citizen has to live up to his duties…” (pg. 173). This line almost completely shook me from the inside out. I began to muse on whether Americans carry out with their “duties.” Then I wondered what our “duties” consist of exactly. I think in these modern times, most Americans would consider their duties to be: to go to college, to achieve something amazing, to live life because “You Only Live Once,” or to simply satisfy their desires. Personally, my duties consist of this: getting an excellent education, learning both the piano and cello to the best of my ability, and to live/devote my life to God. I’ve found that some of the best moments of my life have occurred after I gave my life to God. No one can truly understand this until they experience it for themselves.
To finish, as I began to search within me to see what my duties were, I realized something extremely key. Our duties are what we make them. I truly think that that is powerful. We have the ability to choose what we want to do, and how we want to do it. That is something that few people in the 1960s had the ability to do. But the greater statement is, “What will we do with our duties?” Will we truly hold to them? Or will we simply discard them when they seem to be far? If the African-Americans had done that, who knows where America would be.

Angela Febres
Journal 5

Throughout the book Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin, the main character, John Howard Griffin, encounters a grand number of different people of different classes and races. Some are highly studied, while some simply try to live life in the best way possible. Others are extremely harsh, and some are disgustingly perverted. What is for sure is that John Howard Griffin always tried to see the best in each person, no matter how horrible that person might have been.
One of the best behaved, well mannered, and humble people within the book is P.D. East. P.D. East is one of John Howard Griffin’s acquaintances. He is first mentioned on page seventy-one, when John Howard Griffin first gets to Hattiesburg, Mississippi. At this moment, John Howard Griffin feels an extreme sorrow, and he expresses this lament: “The laughter had to be gross or it would turn to sobs, and to sob would be to realize, and to realize would be to despair,” (pg. 69). From here, John Howard Griffin contacts P.D. East, and asks if it is possible for him to stay at the East’s home.
P.D. East’s story is shared within Black Like Me. P.D. began his career by running an “innocuous little newspaper,” (pg. 73), through which he tried to please the common white folk, shared lies, and added fuel to the fire of African-American stereotypes. One day, the truth confronted him. P.D. “began to have trouble sleeping…[and soon]…entered a battle with his conscience,” (pg. 74). He knew what the truth was and therefore realized he must share it, hoping others would alter their views.
If asked to describe P.D. East, I’d have a couple of different words to describe him. From what I literally read, P.D. East is described as “a comic genius who worked effectively by ridiculing the racists…he was [also] irrepressibly funny,” (pg.173). From this short amount of text, I can also pull away that P.D. likes to tell jokes and see the bright side of every situation. From what I read I can also pull away that P.D. East is not only a highly educated man, but also that he has an extremely humble heart. Being a white man and supporting equality in such a time period, could not have been easy. I’m extremely sure that he and his family were ridiculed and threatened plenty.

Angela Febres
Journal 6

Another character we encounter in the book Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin is Sterling Williams. John Howard Griffin first meets Sterling as a white man. Sterling is a shoe shiner. John Howard Griffin describes him as “an elderly man, large, keenly intelligent and a good talker…polite and easy to know,” (pg. 8). John Howard Griffin describes how Sterling had also lost a leg during World War I. For some reason, Sterling seems like the kind of person you could spend hours with, simply talking.
After John Howard Griffin changes his skin color, he goes back to the same shoe shining stand. At first, Sterling does not recognize him, but John Howard Griffin tells him anyway. After this, Sterling allows John Howard Griffin to work at the shoe shining stand. This to me seemed extremely kind, not many would share their job, and therefore their pay with another.
From what I read in Black Like Me about Sterling Williams, I’ve inferred a couple of things. For one, Sterling is not a jealous kind of man. Second, Sterling is wise. Sterling shined shoes not only for black men, but for white men too. I’m sure many whites were nasty and vulgar to him, but the whole time Griffin was with Sterling, Sterling never got mad, unless it was over an injustice to his race. He actually seemed to go with the flow, and take things a bit easily.
Although John Howard Griffin met many people throughout the Black Like Me experiment, I find that Sterling is one of the kindest and humblest people he encountered. Whenever John Howard Griffin was with Sterling, he learned a lot of different things. In addition, he got an amazing glimpse into what those African-Americans that did work felt. Sterling also gave John Howard Griffin tons of useful information. Lastly, he became an amazing friend of John Howard Griffin’s.

Angela Febres
Journal 7

Throughout the course of the reading of Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin, I felt as if many of the statements or observations he made could be connected to something in our modern society or even something older than Black Like Me. One of the statements that I found a connection to was the following: “Until we as a race can learn to rise together, we’ll never get anywhere. That’s our trouble. We work against one another instead of together,” (pg. 32). Before I state my connection, I’d like to identify the main message of this statement. In the stated text, focus is being drawn on the fact that the black community is lacking unity.
Nowadays, unity is not something you hear about a lot. Everyone wants to fend for him or herself. We have become so caught up in becoming these extremely independent people, when in reality, sometimes it is good to have that unity to someone, may it be your family, friend, husband, wife, etc. We have become far too preoccupied with being self-sufficient and often forget what is most important. Unity is, in my opinion, extremely important. Without unity, no one can achieve anything. And that brings us to the connection.
The Gospel of Matthew, chapter twelve, verse twenty-five, states: “…Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” As I read the text from Black Like Me, this verse just popped into my head. How true it’s message is. Say for example that a company wants to build a building. If the members of the company are constantly bickering, nothing will get done. The building is likely to never get built. In the same way, if the black community didn’t achieve unity, no change could possibly take place and their situation would have remained the same.
To finish off, unity is extremely important. When a race, team, kingdom, etc., reaches unity, the possibilities are endless. When a bridge is gaped, and people meet hallway, new ideas can be generated and carried out. I think one of the main reasons why the black community was able to move forward was because they finally realized that though they spoke of unity, they did not have it and therefore worked to reach it. Overall, I think unity is something we should strive for not only when in difficulty, but in our daily lives too.

Angela Febres
Journal 8

Several times while reading Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin, I questioned one main thing: why racism? One of the things I really appreciated about John Howard Griffin’s writing in this novel was the fact that he did not keep things from the reader. If he saw how a hobo asked those who were already needy for food, he’d write. He disclosed all information to his readers. Therefore, within his book you can really see and experience how the whites’ hate cuts off any hope.
On page thirty-nine, we find this narration from John Howard Griffin: “Any kind of…life, any decent standard of living seems impossible from the outset,” (pg. 39). Now, when I read this phrase, I became both utterly shocked and angry. What is it that leads a whole race to be so evil and full of discord? What is it that leads a race to treat another race like garbage? It was as if the white race lacked a conscience in that time.
During the sixties, the white race made it impossible for a black to receive education, work, transportation, etc. That’s why John Howard Griffin says that a decent life seems impossible. This is not only in the material but in the emotional too. From this statement, you can see how desperate and sorrowful the black race must have felt. Because sure, it might have been John Howard Griffin who wrote the statement, but the situation was the same for the whole race.
To finish off, I’d like to state that it’s simple to analyze a statement, but that is not what matters. What matters is to be able to take that statement, and truly attempt to feel what not just one person, but a whole race felt. The despair and desperation those people felt would have been unnecessary if from the very beginning of slavery, slave masters attempted to empathize. No human or animal should need to feel so dead and hopeless.

Angela Febres
Journal 9

Nowadays, many children and teenagers do not value education. Many don’t seem to care what qualifications or grades they get in school. But what these children do not realize is the true value of education. They do not know the sacrifices many have had to make in order for us children and teenagers to have free public education. In the book Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin, there is a line that truly impacted me and made me realize the above mentioned. On page 127, John Howard Griffin narrates, “Education for them is a serious business. They are so close to the days when their ancestors were kept totally illiterate, when their ancestors learned to read and write at the risk of severe punishment, that learning is an almost sacred privilege now.”
Now, when I read that phrase I thought of several things that I could respond to it with. One of these is that both the whites and Negroes of the past time knew that education was power. That is why the whites did not allow the blacks to receive education and that is also why the African-American community still strived for it. Education empowers one and opens doors to many new and different opportunities. I think education is so powerful, that once you receive it you are never the same.
Second of all, I have seen the results of both having and not having an education in my family. My mother studied, she prepared herself as far as her financial status allowed her to (four years of community college). She always tells me how she won scholarships, but that at one point, she just didn’t have the money. Today, my mother has a job in White Rose Inc., one of the country’s major food distributors. On the other hand, my aunt did not study because she didn’t want to. She dedicated herself to working and having a boyfriend here and a boyfriend there. My aunt now works at the Robert Wood Johnson Hospital, cleaning bathrooms and patients’ rooms. I feel bad because I know that my aunt is smart, but she just didn’t educate herself. She never even tried.
Third, I like the fact that these students are remembering the past. By doing this, they know that they are not doing something solely for themselves or their family, but for their ancestors and race too. Them knowing their ancestors did not have such opportunities allows for them to know not to take it for granted, but rather to go at it with the best of their abilities. Also, by these students acknowledging this, they can be humbled. They can know that they can learn without being severely punished, unlike their ancestors. The past has a way of both breaking you down and making you proud of what you’ve achieved since then.
Overall, I am glad that the few African-Americans that got to study took it seriously. Many times when given opportunities, we humans tend to get comfortable and soon become arrogant. But if we take what we do seriously, there will always be something to perfect or fix. Education is a field in which new thoughts or things to be learned are always being developed.

Angela Febres
Journal 10

Many times, as humans, we are paralyzed and fearful of what others may say. Nowadays, it is all about fitting in and not standing out. Uniqueness, originality, and individuality are words that have morphed into cliques and clones. As I read Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin, I realized that this whole caring about what others think/say isn’t recent. Even during John Howard Griffin’s times, this issue existed. The following statement is from after John Howard Griffin has revealed his project and published his journal: “There were six thousand letters to date and only nine of them abusive. Many favorable letters came from Deep South states, from the whites…the average Southern white is more properly disposed than he dares allow his neighbor to see,” (pg. 160).
When I read that text, I just said to myself “Wow, how stupid.” Do you know how many lives could have been saved? How many hearts could have felt hope? It is ridiculous that due to fear, many lost their lives. If many of these white people had just stated what they believed without caring about what their neighbors thought, things would have been so much different. As humans, we need to realize when it is necessary to speak and when it is necessary to hold back our tongues.
On the next page (pg. 161), John Howard Griffin continues, “He [the Southern white] is more afraid of his fellow white racist than…of the Negro.” At this, I just couldn’t believe it. So much blood was shed. So many dreams shattered. All because of fear. When we care about what others think, we can never truly achieve our dreams and goals. There will always be a little voice in the back of our heads saying, “But what about…” We need to push back that little voice and continue with what we desire.
For some time, I cared a lot about what others thought. I bought my clothes thinking about what my friends would say about them. I bought my sneakers with the intention of pleasing everyone but myself. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad to please people every once in a while, but when everything you do revolves around someone else’s thoughts and likes, you’re fake. A fraud. You lack personality, originality, and maybe even life. At one point, I realized this and wondered why I even did it in the first place. It wasn’t as if my friends were paying me to be like them. Then I realized I just wanted acceptance. But do you know something, when you are yourself you don’t have to worry about acceptance. You are comfortable in your own skin and willing enough to defend what you believe in. If people during that time had just stood up for what they believed, things would be much different. And that’s the issue, by hiding what you believe in you leave room for a “what if.”


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BLM Journal Entries By: Miatta Harris ;D

Post  Miatta Harris on Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:32 pm

Journal #1

On page 3 of the novel, the reader is introduced to the main character’s wife. Although making a rather abrupt appearance, Mrs. Griffin reveals a lot about herself. Primarily, it is shown that she masks her personal opinions to give the best support possible. When Mr. Griffin comes to her with the details of his unfolding mission, she quickly puts aside her astonishment of the idea to encourage him, agreeing that if he feels he must do it, then he must. From my perspective, this type of support is very significant in a marital relationship. I could imagine how doubtful Griffin would’ve gotten hadn’t Mrs. Griffin given such reflective encouragement. Support from loved ones can make all the difference.
Secondly, it is evident that Mrs. Griffin is a very projective woman. She looks ahead into the active mission and envisages that their household will be mislaid a father and husband figure. And in this early stage of it, she assumes the position of the man of the house. At glance, it may seem very insignificant, but, having this role as a female can be a lot tougher than thus as a male, since men are seen as more superior than women the majority of the time. I’m actually much familiarized with this injustice amongst the sexes, in a way similar to my viewpoint of Mrs. Griffin conforming to be the leader of the house. My younger brother is extremely mischievous and acts out quite frequently. I notice that when my dad responds to his misbehavior, my brother immediately corrects himself. Nonetheless, when it is my mom who reacts to his trouble, he takes longer to tame himself, sometimes even refusing to stop and waiting for my dad to step in. It just proves to show that women are seen as less dominant and must work harder than men to take meaningful charge.
Altogether, Mrs. Griffin shows to be a very selfless woman. She seems like the type of person that constantly puts others before herself; that blocks off any resistance to another’s ideas or feelings just to remain a pure advocate to them. I definitely admire her character. It must have taken her much training and learning of control to sustain from bringing the negative nagging out during times in which feedback is significant. After all, isn’t it something like the ‘female human nature’ to complain and see only the cons about all that is encountered? Opposing from this is like breaking away from an incredibly strong force.
In addition, Mrs. Griffin’s profound selflessness and support displayed her as a strong cohort with Mr. Griffin. It is sad to say that I rarely hear of such a great support system in any family close to me. If it was otherwise, I’d probably not be exposed to as much divorces because this kind of advocacy from a spouse truly shows how much they love you and can also make all the difference in making a decision most times. Just imagine how much more difficult and impossible Mr. Griffin’s journey would have been without his wife’s backing of it.

Journal #2

Mack Parker’s lynching. This topic was probably the strongest and most appalling brought up in the whole story. Driving to Hattiesburg on a Greyhound bus, Mr. Griffin sits with a group daring Negroes. One of which was sure to bring up this shameful incident, as the segregated bus drives into Poplarville, the city in which it unfolded.
Surely, as described in the book, “agitation swept through the bus,” (page __). The case was astonishing for both whites and blacks. It seemed that the whites tried, with their all, to make Negroes feel small. From hate stares to verbal abuses, they indeed fulfilled this disheartening endeavor, time to time. However, I see that most would never go as far as abusing man to this extent.
Mack Parker, I discovered after further researching was a young African-African living in Mississippi. In February of 1959, he was accused of kidnapping and raping a white woman and arrested. Parker denied any of this, but was still placed in prison. For his safety, he was transported to a different jail out of town. After being indicted on one count of rape and two of kidnapping, he was returned to the original jail to appear before a judge. Pleading not guilty, Parker was returned to his cell, awaiting a hearing on a later day. 10 days later, on April 25th, around a quarter after midnight, a mob of at most ten concealed men walked into the jail and opened Parker’s cell. Just as soon as it happened, Parker was beaten by the mob and their clubs. They then dragged the profusely bleeding Parker into the backseat of one of two cars waiting outside and headed to the Pearl River Bridge. Upon arrival, Parker was pulled out of the car, shot twice in the chest at close range, and dumped into the river. His lifeless body was weighed down by logging chains. It was only weeks later until the gruesome discovery was made.
Upon reading it, my mind went into a trance; something like a shut down. Yes, I had always known about vulgar acts of violence against blacks in the South, but, honestly, I was never exposed to anything this brutal! The word lynching was also new to me, although I had heard about mob killings like this in the past. Nevertheless, I was just in awe! Hundreds of questions poked at my unresponsive mind. Some key questions were-
• How could ANY human being possess such hatred in their heart to do this to another?
• Did they honestly stop and think how much pain and suffering Mack Parker was going through and if he was even guilty of the crime?
• Did they honestly believe that this was The Christian Way?

Journal #3

A while after writing the questions of the previous journal, I decided to write another answering the questions. Of course, I could not leave these questions on their own, as if the perpetrators would answer, because they’re dead. So, I decided to do what John H. Griffin had done, which was also the reason for this whole story- switching perspectives. As unbiased as possible, I tried to answer these questions, as a member of the mobsters who lynched Mack Parker. Here is what I came up with:
• It’s simple, no one could. But doing this to a repulsive animal could definitely be done. And that’s what that [Negro] Mack Parker was. And so, that’s why we did that to him.
• No, we just kept going. That [jerk] deserved every bit that was coming to him and more for what he did to that precious white woman. And, [crap], of course he did it! All [Negroes] do these gruesome acts, whether we see it or not. This is why [Negroes] should not be trusted, but punished.
• …Yes, it is. God doesn’t want such horrid violence such as kidnappings and rapes going on in our world. It is like a favor, punishing and eliminating these animals. They are capable of even more. We need to protect ourselves and others from this. And THAT is The Christian Way.
It was hard for me to put myself into a psycho’s perspective. In fact, while writing, I shook, holding back tears. How could they think this way? How could one contain such hatred? In order to at least justify this, I answered my first set of questions from MY point of view this time around.
• I don’t think any human being could really have this awful amount of hatred inside their heart to act in this way. What it is, I think, is that the mobsters thought Negroes to be animals, nothing in any way human. Doing this to Mack Parker was not in any way wrong because he was no human in their eyes.
• They probably didn’t stop, wanting to conflict more and more pain and suffrage unto Mr. Parker. In their mind, without ANY kind of investigation or examination into the case, he was automatically guilty.
• In their minds, I KNOW that at least once or twice, they did think of The Christian Way. However, they probably didn’t want to back down from such violence and instead, tried making excuses as to what the true Christian Way is, just to make it seem that what they were doing wasn’t bad at all.

Journal #4

In his adventure, the sweetest people that Mr. Griffin comes into contact with are a family in Montgomery, Alabama. He met the father and wife of the family while hitchhiking into the city. The man offered him a ride and, later, a place to stay. He and his family lived in the woods. What really left me in awe was the fact that his family was a total of eight living in a small two-bedroom home in the woods and yet he still presented him access to his house. The family struggled to obtain a sufficient amount of food daily and still sacrificed a portion of the little they had to Mr. Griffin.
The selflessness displayed by this family really made my day. It reminded me of another book that I had read. It was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In the story, a young boy lives in a shack-like house with his parents and four grandparents. His two working parents struggle to keep jobs and have no money, whatsoever. Time to time, they cannot even find any food for themselves to eat. During this time, there is a contest going on amongst a chocolate selling company. They are placing golden tickets in several chocolate bars across the world. The tickets enable its owners to gain access and ownership over the chocolate factory.
Seeing that Charlie really wants to get a golden ticket, his parents scrape up a dollar to purchase one. It’s sad that when Charlie first opens it in front of his family, there is no golden ticket. However, later, Charlie finds a dollar while walking and spends it on two chocolate bars. Miraculously, one contains a golden ticket! Back home, everyone is elated to here this! Even his bed-resting Grandpa Joe jumps up in glee! It is decided that he will accompany Charlie to the factory.
There at the factory, Charlie, his grandpa, and the four other participants and accompaniers enter the factory after a flamboyant show in front of the gate. Mr. Wanka, the owner of the factory, explains that one of the five participants will get to co-own the factory. Little by little, after bizarre incidents, children begin to be eliminated from the factory, getting caught in acts of greed. In the end, Charlie is the only one left, not having done anything mischievous. It amazed me because the rest of the children were all rich and then here was Charlie, with a poor, starving family, who doesn’t even try to steal anything from the factory. Stories about greedless and thankful children who stand in tough financial situations always make me look upon myself. I should be grateful for all I have. Compared to many others, I have a lot! Such books that grant me epiphanies are always my favorites!

Journal #5

As Mr. Griffin get further settles (but not necessarily comfortable) in his new environment and perspective, he comes to model a wise, old man, abundant with accounts of horrid experiences of a Negro. As he encounters more and more Negroes on his journey, it seems that his careful observations make him appear as a very intelligent Negro. Having this impression placed on others, he is welcomed into numerous conversations and debates amongst Negroes. Many hold valuable outlooks on the problem of racism in America.
One particular conversation that caught my attention was the one held between Mr. Griffin and Mr. Gayle, a café manager at the YMCA next door to Mr. Griffin’s temporary residence. The elderly gentleman tells Mr. Griffin of his vision picturing a brighter day for Negroes. But first, he says the key problem need be identified. Clarifying the real issue, he is, “They make it impossible for us to earn, to pay much in taxes because we haven’t much in income, and then they say that because they pay most of the taxes, they have the right to have things like they want. It’s a vicious circle, Mr. Griffin, and I don’t know how we’ll get out of it. They put us low, and then blame us for being down there and say that since we are low, we can’t deserve out rights,” (page 40).
Reading this, I was definitely more aware that racism had an underlying problem firing it up. I see that racists mainly don’t like blacks because of the color of their skin. But when confronted about the senselessness and lame degree of discrimination in it, they dig for more reasoning. This includes accusations of Negroes being violent, mischievous, lazy, poor, stupid, and incapable of just about everything. It gives just about every right for them to be downgraded.
Reading Mr. Gayle’s valid explanation, I feel as if this would make up the whole conversation between serious racists. I can imagine them going through the “vicious circle” countless times, growing more and more angry each time. I just don’t understand why racists waste time focusing on a group people they don’t like. Is that all they want to think about/ I’m pretty they don’t want them to be there. Even though it is wrong, why don’t they just act as if they’re not? Peace and tranquility would certainly come in this way, somehow.

Journal #6

Although many events in Mr. Griffin’s journey were familiar to me, they were still shocking. The preparation and precautions that Negroes had to take are really upsetting to hear about. They could not just simply go out and have fun being wild and crazy, as most of us do today. Instead, they had to act as simple and innocent as teens do before their parents, when wanting to ask for something they really want.
When on the bus headed to Mississippi, Mr. Griffin chats with several Negroes. Some, being friendly, offer him a series of advice to be taken if trouble is not desired in the streets. The social strangers explain various subjects, from dressing always to impress and not paying mind to provocative posters of women. One, however, they put much emphasis on. This was to never look in a white women’s direction.
This immediately linked me to the lynching of Emmitt Till. Emmitt was a fourteen-year-old African American boy who was visiting relatives in Mississippi in 1955. On one day, Emmitt went to a small grocery store with a few friends. He was later accused by the wife of the white storeowner of flirting with and whistling at her. Outraged, which I think was caused mainly by the fact that Emmitt was black and the woman was white, the proprietor, named Ray Bryant, kidnapped Emmitt, brutally beat, and shot him in a bar. He then dumped his lifeless body in the Tallahatchie river.
There were many things that devastated me about this store. Primarily, it is that they poured such astonishing violence on a young FOURTEEN-year-old. It showed me that whites and racists really didn’t consider anything to stop at when torturing Negroes. They were merciless. Secondly, it was truly bothersome that for a minor incident, they’d go to such drastic measures. Lastly, it told me how much they deprived Negroes. Emmitt was probably going through puberty, dealing with heavy testosterone. The high levels probably caused him to do something provocative as this. But still, it was nothing too serious to go off about. Whites had such an unbelievable level of hatred for Negroes.

Journal #7

My favorite passage in the story was an analytical phrase on page 101. It was in Mr. Griffin’s mind, explaining the reason for Negroes’ diverse perspective of things. “The Negro sees and reacts different not because he is a Negro, but because he is suppressed. Fear dims even the sunlight.”
The intelligence of it delights me. It makes so much sense! When one is frowned upon for doing just about anything, it makes It disheartening to act I the same way. Thus, a different manner in acting is sought. It’s like downgrading yourself because you’re downgraded by others.
I can definitely relate to this feeling. Just about a year ago, I was a chatterbox. I’d talk to just about anyone, doing just about anything. I was also happy all the time. However, one day, a bossy POP (which stands for Popular and Obnoxious Person) confronted me and told me how annoying and retarded I was. It utterly broke me.
From there on, I was altered to be the complete opposite of myself. I was now the most introverted person around. I’d refrain from holding any conversations with anyone. The only actual times I’d talk were to ask a question and answer a question in class. It really does hurt knowing that your presence and personality bothers someone else. I can only imagine how horrid it was for the Negroes in the past.

Journal #8

In Black Like Me, one of the things that angered me the most was the incident that occurred on page 44. Mr. Griffin was on a bus to his rented room. After exploring Dillard University, he was extremely exhausted. Catching the bus was no problem for him. He caught it a stroke before night. Getting off the problem was the problem, which seemed ironic.
“At each stop, I sounded the buzzer, but the driver continued through the next two stops. He drove me eight full blocks past my original stop and pulled up then only because some white passengers wanted to get off. I followed them to the front. He watched me, his hand on the lever that would spring the doors shut.
‘May I get off now?’ I asked quietly when the others had stepped down.
‘Yeah, go ahead,’ he said finally, as though he had tired of the cat-and-mouse game. I got sick, wondering how I could ever walk those eight blocks back to my original stop.”
My first reaction was “What the heck? Are you serious?” This incident seemed very minor compared to the others in this story. However, it probably angered me the most. Here, we have a tired, elderly man, obviously looking forward to resting at home. But, the bus driver has other plans for him. Before he can get off, the bus driver rudely slams the door in his face and drags him a lot further than his desired stop. It was extremely disrespectful. It seemed silly of the bus driver to do something that childish.
I guess the reason why this made me mad was because it reminded me of myy grandma. She practically LIVES on the bus! She refuses to let my mother or anyone else to take her anywhere. She enjoys traveling downtown to walk around and tire herself out, and come back home on the bus. Mind you, there’s a bus stop right across the street from our house, so she doesn’t have to walk much before she can knock out on a comfy couch. My grandma has a limp when she walks and when she gets too tired, she collapses. She’d have to crawl her way home on the hard asphalt. I’d be outraged, and find the bus driver who caused this, to give him a piece of my mind and fist. Gosh, if I was living during the 1950s, I’d have a hard time. I pretty much speak my mind 24/7.

Journal #9

Although occurring to me as something very funny, another section of Black Like Me that stuck out for me was Mr. Griffin’s hitchhiking experience between Biloxi and Mobile. Friendly drivers were stopping to give him a ride. However, they were doing much more than that. Their curiosity was due to push them to do much more.
The curious Samaritans get personal and decide to question Mr. Griffin’s sex life. They ask surprisingly personal questions such as how often he does it, whether ot not he’s done it with a white woman, and if he’s ever paid for a white woman’s services. One even says that he’s never seen a Negro naked, telling Mr. Griffin that he’s like to see him naked.
My only explanation for this bizarre situation is that these curious were only trying to confirm the many stereotypes of Negroes. Negroes are seen as these wild and hyper creatures. Many think of them as wild animals that are subject to “marathon sex.” It’s quite sad that this preposterous stereotype is formed mostly because blacks have darker skin.
Unfortunately, I’ve experienced weird stereotypes like the ones Mr. Griffin was questioned about. I try not to be arrogant, but I consider myself to be a very smart young lady. In fact, I ranked top five in my middle school graduating class. When I tell strangers of my accomplishments, many grow very surprised. Some have even said something like, “Wow, I would have never expected that from someone like you!” I know that they don’t mean it in a mean way, but it is still very offensive. People need to realize that every person is different, no matter what race, color, gender, sexual orientation, or age, and ignore such stupid remarks.

Journal 10

Being a Christian in this world can be very challenging, sometimes. Heck, what am I kidding, it’s a struggle just about all the time! The challenges come from the dark world that has been molded from the seemingly perfect one that was laid out by the Europeans. Issues such as greed, deceitfulness, injustice, and much more eat away the good of our world.
One of the strongest tortures in our world is hate. Possessing a human’s heart, this poison can push anyone to extremely drastic measures. Once consuming one, it seems that almost nothing can stop them from plunging deeper into the dark, except for satisfaction. And who knows how far they’d go until this dark amusement is reached.
In the situation of racism and discrimination against Negroes, there was heavy hate flowing around. During his experience as a Negro, Mr. Griffin was exposed to it tons of times. However, kind hearts were showed to him. One was P.D. East, a newspaperman who accepted Mr. Griffin into his home for a few nights.
Mr. East used to be greedy, writing only in the favor of whites and racists. He found that writing this way made more people want to read his paper, bringing large sums of money his way. However, after a while, the guilt was eating at him. He was a devoted Christian and these columns insulting Negroes and denoting their status was not at all The Christian Way. He knew that he couldn’t do this. Thus, he decided to change the tone in which he was writing. He was now speaking the truth and explaining how cruel and unjust the lowering of Negroes’ status was.
As a result, Mr. East’s newspaper’s status was severed greatly. Many unsubscribed to him, loathing the perspective the newspaper had changed to. He was receiving an immensely low amount of profit. Beyond that, his family had to endure being ostracized by the white community around them, threats, and loneliness. Nevertheless, in actuality, they weren’t alone. Mr. East had sacrificed a lot to be a better Christian. This definitely brought him and his family closer to God. And to have sacrificed this much, is truly amazing to me. It inspired me, greatly, as I myself am looking for a closer relationship with God. I hope that in my future, I may be able to make such a heroic and Christian surrender as P.D. East did.

Miatta Harris

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Black Like Me 10 Journals-Isaiah Guevara

Post  IGuevara500 on Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:40 pm

Journal 1
When I started to read this book I thought this is going to be a long book. I thought this because the beginning began like most non-fiction books, the thought process of the person who the book is about. It became interesting the moment he started describing what he was going to do. This was to become black and see society in the eyes of a black man. This idea really caught my attention.
He started his quest of living life as a black man by, of course, changing his skin tone. He asked a doctor a way to change his skin so that it will be black after the treatment and it wouldn’t be permanent. The doctor gave him some medication and also told him how to treat himself with the medication. The doctor had also told him to come for a checkup as often as he can to make sure he wouldn’t develop any cancer or disease while using the treatment. I had thought that he would’ve come up with something at one point but he never did.
Griffin surprised me by actually following through with this medication. I thought after he figured out how dangerous and long it would be in order for him to become black he would look for a better way. He followed through with the medication and followed the doctor’s instructions to checkup with him as often as possible. This part was very surprising to me.
I wondered why Griffin had gone out of his way to find a new place to stay for his transformation but after some thinking I figured out. He probably didn’t want anyone trying to talk him out of it. His family could’ve been frightened by his actions to make the transformation happened and potentially could’ve talked him out of doing it. He also could’ve just not had wanted his family to see him after he had changed his skin tone.
Journal 2
I think Griffin is going to have it rough for the first few days. He seems like he will make a ton of beginner mistakes before he starts to go different places to see how segregation is in different parts of the U.S. At least some people will help him out along the way. I think that black citizens are going to give him many tips along the way and he will learn how it is to live as a black citizen before his skin tone would start to fade and change back from black to white.
I think Griffin is going to try to avoid people until he gets used to the fact that his skin tone is now black. He may try to avoid people because blacks have to act differently to whites than whites have to act toward themselves. Also I’m not sure if he’s use to talking to blacks so casually.
The way the woman acted on the bus was very unnecessary. I think it was a way to make blacks seem even worse to whites then they already are seen to be. This woman screamed at Griffin as if he was trying to force her to sit next to him. It seems like Griffin is going to have a rough time recovering from that mistake.
Griffin might fit right in with the black population in America after a few days. He has already adjusted to the looks and now he should adjust to the rules that blacks have to follow. I wonder how much trouble he will run into while adjusting to these rules.
Journal 3
After Griffin had finally finished his transformation I was wondering, what will he do first? I thought he would take it easy try his best not to get noticed and into trouble. As I had thought he tried to learn the basics. He met up with an old friend who worked at a shoe shine stand. This guy was a black man and didn’t recognize Griffin at first glance. This man was very generous to Griffin and tried his best to teach him the basic rules that a black man had to follow.
After a few lessons Griffin saw one of the things that can happen to someone who is black and was denied job opportunities. This surprised me because the men at the shoe stand always took care of that man. I had wondered when was the first time they came across that man and when they decided to serve him leftovers of their meal. I thought of this as a gift from the poor to the misfortunate who are even lower than poor.
Blacks seemed to have supported each other in New Orleans. They were very kind to Griffin and had thought he was new around there (in some sense he was). Whenever Griffin was about to do something wrong, such as going to a white restroom, a random black would stop him and point him to the right direction for the things meant for their kind.
I am wondering how long it will take Griffin to get the hang of things. I noticed that he has already made a few beginner mistakes and each failure should lead to more success. If he learns from his mistakes he’ll be able to go to different places of America in no time. Although, I can only hope he will know how to act and what to do as a black citizen of America soon.
Journal 4
Griffin seems like he’s going to have a rough time living as a black man. He was followed by someone when he was walking around town. It was very convenient that someone told him not to stop for anything while being followed by any white man calling him around those parts. If he hadn’t gotten this advice he might have stopped and could’ve been harmed by the man. He had luck to find such kind people who share tips on how to keep himself in tack around town.
When Griffin thought of a police looking at his identification papers I thought that would be a funny thing to read. The police might think Griffin stole someone’s identity but the truth would be he just tanned himself so much he became black. Griffin would probably had trouble explaining to the officer. Griffin’s mission could’ve come to an end at that point. Thankfully that did not happen.
I wonder what would’ve happened if Griffin’s bluff didn’t scare the bully. Would Griffin have been pummeled to the ground or would he have one the fight. I wish they had fought just so I can read about the results. If Griffin would’ve lost the fight that might’ve had a large amount of negative impact on his will to continue living as a black man. At least that didn’t happen
Journal 5
Mr. Gayle makes a great point about the society. Mr. Gayle describes the writing in newspapers and other public news or information source as poison that makes people think less and less of blacks. He states that this is bad Americanism. He also states that bad Americanism is how you be a good American (pg. 41). I agree with both of these statements.
I wonder how Griffin felt having a conversation with a black man about equal job opportunities and how whites placed blacks very low in society and brought them lower and lower each day. It most likely didn’t give him a feeling of guilt because he isn’t responsible for the actions of people who do that and he isn’t one of those people. It might have given him something to think about and try to stand for when he goes back to living as a white. I wonder if he thought that this was a once in the lifetime event in which he would have an intelligent conversation about society with a black man.
Inequality is presenting itself more and more to Griffin. Griffin was rejected job opportunities he would’ve easily have gotten if his skin tone had been white at the time. Griffin has also experienced hate that he probably would’ve never experienced if his skin tone was white at that time. I wonder if he had told them he was actually white and proved it to them if they would feel guilt or just ask Griffin why he is imposing as a black man.
Griffin may be wondering what else is stored for him in the near future at this point. He might be wondering what other kind of abuse and inequality will take place. He may also be wondering if he would be able to find a job or something that would allow him to earn money. Another thing he may have thought of is if it would get worse as the days go by. Griffin may be mistreated and abused and an unequal at greater levels in the near future.
Journal 6
Griffin is heading towards Mississippi in public transportation. So far his trip has been a disaster. There have been arguments on the bus and also he is being bothered by one of the people who started the argument. This man seems to dislike any black who seems to be uneducated. This is probably why he chose to sit next to and talk to Griffin; since he is an educated man and he sure seems like one.
It seems like Negroes would go through a lot to keep themselves from being lower in the society. On the bus there was a pit stop for everyone aboard the bus so they can use the bathroom or stretch their legs. The bus driver did not permit any Negroes to get off on this stop. One black man took a stand and just left as the bus driver called him. When this man came back on the bus the driver questioned him why he didn’t come back when he called him the man retorted that the name he was calling him by wasn’t his name (pg.62).
There was another group of people who wanted to take a stand in a different way. Their way could’ve potentially lower respect for them. They were going to flood the bus with urine. This would’ve been put in the newspaper as a negative thing. They were lucky that there was a man who thought it through before they had done it.
Journal 7
The inequality is getting to Griffin. He started to lose his mind in a room inside of a tavern. The blues music could’ve had this effect on him. He started to think back at the woman in the beginning of the book when he first used public transportation. He thought of all the hatred she and others presented so clearly to him. This moment of insanity started to make me think that he would chose to just hide out and wait around until his skin fades back into his original white skin tone.
My thought of the woman on the bus was true. I had thought that it was a harsh on him and he wouldn’t get over it since it was in his early experience and this would make the effects of it even worse for him. The woman had scared Griffin because he had just changed his skin tone and she had shown him one of the ugliest ways whites treat Negroes.
Griffin had called his friend to help him out in the situation. He is staying with his friend, East, until he cools down from all the negativity. While he was staying with East he had read some of his writings that he had done in his past and how he would write in a way that wouldn’t offend anyone and wouldn’t be bias. His friend had offered Griffin a chance to stay with him until his skin becomes white once again but Griffin declined.
Journal 8
Griffin has continued his mission to go around the United States to study the life of a black man. This time he is headed for Mobile. He is getting there on foot and hitchhiking. Hitchhiking is enough for him to learn more about the life of a Negro.
While hitchhiking, Griffin came across many people. Most of these people asked Griffin similar questions. These similar questions were about his sexual interests. He was starting to become offended how all these men were trying to get a kick out of his sexual interests. One of these men even told Griffin that he had read that the things that a black experiences is a whole different field than what a white experiences. Griffin started to become annoyed by this constant question and thought of walking the rest of the way if he had to hitchhike with another white man.
Griffin was lucky to come across a man who was color blind. I believe in Griffin’s assumption that the man was color blind but I could be wrong. I think this man would be one of the kindest white men that Griffin would come across. This man bought Griffin food and also didn’t seem to have anything against Griffin being black. This man didn’t seem to have cared either way but that could be just because he can’t see the difference.
Journal 9
The man he stood with after hitchhiking was a Christian and seems to believe in similar things that one man did in the near beginning of the book. He thought no matter what the whites do their still Gods children. This means no matter what they do they are still human or Americans. This relates to the man who says that to be a good American you need to practice bad Americanism.
The man had also talked to Griffin about how the when they stop loving the whites is when the whites get what they want. This is true since most whites want blacks out of America. If blacks were to stop loving the whites, the whites would have a reason to throw them out of America. This would mean that they have won the major battle for segregation.
This man seemed to be very intelligent since he had thought of reasons why not to go against the whites rule. He had thought of a reason why blacks should continue turning the other cheek. Many blacks would only think of why not to continue turning the other cheek. The man had thought that if they stop doing the right thing, the whites would have a reason to hate their race.
Journal 10
Griffin is back to hitchhiking. This time it took him longer to get his first ride. The first man he came across seemed like someone who wouldn’t annoy him so. He asked him questions that were less obnoxious and were more like causal questions you would receive from someone. This man asked about Griffin’s family. Although this conversation had ended up annoying Griffin since it had lead to the same questions that he has been asked the whole time he spent hitchhiking.
I believe Griffin is going to try to avoid talking to people he hitchhikes with from now on. After having asked the same type of questions over and over so many times I would get tired of it. Griffin feels the same way. I wonder if he would be asked this question each and every time he is picked up by a white man.
I was hoping that Griffin would run into another white man while hitchhiking to see his reaction but to my surprise it was a black man. This black man was kind and sincere. I thought this man would just have left Griffin at another place down the highway towards his destination but then Griffin was offered to stay in the man’s home. For obvious reasons, Griffin accepted the offer.
After I had read that Griffin had dinner with this man’s family, I thought Griffin is starting to miss his family. After seeing another man’s family and receiving so much love from them he should miss his own family at least a bit more than he did before. I wonder if this would affect him in the future.


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