Black Like Me

by

John Howard Griffin

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Black Like Me: March 17 – 23, 1960 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Griffin travels to New York for an interview with Time magazine. He then prepares for another television appearance. In the time since the first television interview, his mother has received “her first threatening call” from a woman who told her that Griffin shouldn’t return to Mansfield. Claiming that Griffin has “thrown the door wide open” to black people in the area, this woman says that a group of angry locals are planning to harm him if he ever comes back. Griffin’s next television appearance goes well, as does the one after that. He also does a radio show, and soon gets a copy of Time, which has printed his interview. Thankfully, it is well written, and he’s pleased with the outcome. Later, Griffin does yet another television appearance, and though he is particularly nervous about this one, which is live, he’s quite happy with how it goes.
Unsurprisingly, Griffin ends up receiving threats because he has challenged the racist idea that there is some kind of fundamental difference between white and black people. However, he clearly doesn’t let these threats keep him from continuing to spread news of his project, as he keeps giving interviews and talking about his experience. As such, he implies that people—and especially white men who have the privilege of relative safety—shouldn’t let threats keep them from doing what’s right.
Themes
Appearance, Identity, and Bigotry Theme Icon
Unity, Division, and Communication Theme Icon
Fear and Violence Theme Icon