Black Like Me


John Howard Griffin

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Black Like Me: November 16, 1959 Summary & Analysis

P.D. takes Griffin to Dillard University—a black institution in New Orleans—to meet the dean. He then drops Griffin off in city, where he goes to the bus station and buys another ticket to Mississippi, though this time he has chosen to visit Biloxi. In the bus station’s bathroom, Griffin finds a homemade flyer made by a white man who wants to “Pay for various types of sensuality” with black girls of “various ages,” offering the most money for girls as young as fourteen. Sadly, Griffin thinks, this man will probably find what he’s looking for, since there are many people who badly need this kind of money. As he stares at this piece of paper, a black man enters the bathroom, sees the flyer, and laughs. “In these matters,” Griffin writes, “the Negro has seen the backside of the white man too long to be shocked.”
When Griffin sees the lewd flyer in the bathroom, readers will recall the author’s experience as a shoeshine, when white men didn’t hesitate to ask him inappropriate questions. Indeed, African Americans have long seen “the backside of the white man,” since many white people don’t care what black people think about them. By presenting this, then, Griffin reminds readers just how unaware racists are of the extent to which they embarrass themselves by behaving so disgracefully. 
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