Black Like Me


John Howard Griffin

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Black Like Me: April 7 – 11, 1960 Summary & Analysis

Shortly after Griffin and his family go to Dallas, someone burns a cross “just above” their house at an African American school. Despite this, he and his family decide to return to Mansfield several days later, not wanting to “hide away” any longer. “Our townspeople wanted to ‘keep things peaceful’ at all costs,” Griffin writes. “They said I had ‘stirred things up.’ This is laudable and tragic. I, too, say let us be peaceful but the only way to do this is first to assure justice. By keeping ‘peaceful’ in this instance, we end up consenting to the destruction of all peace.” Indeed, Griffin upholds that “condon[ing] injustice” means accepting the “destruction of all social stability, all real peace.”
When Griffin says that his “townspeople” want to “keep things peaceful,” he isn’t saying that they’re advocating for equality or harmony, but rather that they’re angry at him for disrupting the supposedly “peaceful” way of life they’ve established. This, it seems, is why they’re so angry at him, since he dared to challenge their notion that black people are happy with the way things are. Despite their anger, though, he understands that going along in ignorance like this only means allowing for a number of inexcusable “injustice[s]”—something he’s unwilling to “condone.” 
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