Racism between blacks and whites is a problem that has haunted the United States for a long time, and still does today. John Howard Griffin (author) wants to experience first hand the hardships and obstacles of being a black man in the United States. Griffin's experience actually began as a science research study of the Negro in the south, with help of medical treatments John was able to transform himself into a Negro. (Weinstein, Garell 112).
John Howard Griffin did what probably no white man has ever done. Griffin undergoes a series of medical therapy to change the color of his skin so that he looks like a black man. John's mission is to explore the Deep South to find out what a black man goes through in the south and the only way for a white man to find out the truth is if he becomes a black man himself; which is what he is attempting to do.
John gives his idea to Adele Jackson, the editor of a black oriented magazine, Sepia, who offers to fund his trip in exchange for and article about his life of a black man. Once John completes his treatments he goes to the south were he expects to be treated differently but is shocked to find out the true prejudice, hardship and oppression that the United States showed to another human being just because of the color of their skin, something that these people couldn't help.
As he is walking down the streets of New Orleans he wonders how he is going to make the transition from the white world in to the black community. He knew he needed a contact a person that could help him make transition. After scanning out the black section of New Orleans he meets Sterling Williams, a black man who used to shine his shoes when he was white. Sterling helps Griffin get accustomed to black society. (Weinstein Fatell 34)
As he travels throughout the south he realizes what it is like to be a black man in the racist south of 1956. John kept a dairy with him through out the experiment to keep a daily record of his findings. After the experiment he published his diary in his book "Black like Me". John wanted to expose how minorities were treated. "I could have been a Jew in Germany, a Mexican in a number of states or a member of any inferior group. Only the details would have differed. The story would be the same." (Griffin 34)
In "Black like Me" racism was the key subject. John's idea was to expose how the Negroes were really treated in the south especially in Mississippi. While he was doing his research experiment he discovered a variety of different racisms such as an individual's religious intolerance as well as the most of the south's social white group. While touring the Deep South he almost instantly encountered racism and had a personal encounter with the hate stare, a stare ...