John Howard Griffin's Black Like Me

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John Howard Griffin's Black Like Me

In John Howard Griffin's novel Black Like Me, Griffin travels through many Southern American states, including Mississippi. While in Mississippi Griffin experiences racial tension to a degree that he did not expect. It is in Mississippi that he encounters racial stereotypical views directed towards him, which causes him to realize the extent of the racial prejudices that exist. Mississippi is where he is finally able to understand the fellowship shared by many of the Negroes of the 50's, because of their shared experiences. Although Griffin travels throughout the Southern States, the state of

Mississippi serves as a catalyst for the realization of what it is truly like to be a Negro in 1959. Once in the state of Mississippi, Griffin witnesses extreme racial tension, that he does not fully expect. It is on the bus ride into Mississippi that Griffin first experiences true racial cruelty from a resident of Mississippi.

It was late dusk when the bus pulled into some little town outside of Hatteisburg for a stop. "We get about ten minutes here," Bill said "let's get off here and stretch our legs" The driver stood up and announced "Ten minute rest stop,". The whites rose and ambled off.

Bill and I led the Negroes toward the door. As soon as he saw us, the driver blocked our way. Bill slipped under his arm and walked away.

"Hey boy where are you going?" the driver shouted at Bill while he stretched his arms across the opening to prevent myself from stepping down. I stood waiting. "Where do you think your going?" he asked, his heavy cheeks quivering with each word. "I'd like to go to the rest room." I smiled and moved to step down. He tightened his grip on the

door. "Does your ticket say for you to get off here?" he asked. "No sir, but the others..." "Then you just sit your ass down." We turned like a small herd of cattle and drifted back to our seats. The large woman was apologetic, as though it embarrassed her for a stranger to see Mississippi's dirty linen.1(pg 63) Up to this point in the novel

Griffin experiences exactly what he expects to experience. He is taunted with typical racial slurs, and other forms of hostility, which he is able to brush off as meaningless ignorance. This bus driver is denying the black customers the most basic of human needs.

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