Black Like Me


John Howard Griffin

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Black Like Me: November 2, 1959 Summary & Analysis

The next morning, Griffin visits a dermatologist. After Griffin explains what he wants to do, the doctor excuses himself so that he can call his colleagues to talk about the best and safest method to go about darkening Griffin’s pigmentation. Upon returning, he says that everyone he spoke to agreed it would be best for Griffin to take a certain oral medication that changes the shade of a person’s skin. In addition, he instructs Griffin to expose himself to ultraviolet rays each day and says he wants to monitor his liver in the for the first few days. After obtaining the pills, Griffin goes back to his friend’s house and takes his daily dosage before lying under a sun lamp.
By describing the details of how he will darken his pigmentation, Griffin shows readers how arduous it is to change one’s physical appearance. This project, he intimates, is not one to be taken lightly, but rather something that requires diligent focus and attention to detail. After all, Griffin knows how much people—and especially white people—pay attention to skin color, so he needs to make sure that he looks convincingly African American in order for him to truly experience what it’s like to be a black person in the South.
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