58 of 60 people found the following review helpful
One of the most important works of our time,
By A Customer
This review is from: Black Like ME (Mass Market Paperback)
This book carries such a potent message that it should be compulsive reading for all. Last year I studied Race Relations: apartheid in South Africa and segregation in America, as part of my GCSE History syllabus and happened upon this book whilst browsing in the school library during an English lesson. From the moment I read the synopsis, I could not put it down. It's the true story of a white man who disguises himself as a black man and travels to the Deep South in the 1950s in order to discover what kind of life a black really lives in a place where racial hatred runs so deep. The results are incredible, heart-wrenching, and deeply disturbing. It inspires self-questioning. It made me wonder: if one can only learn of oneself by how he reacts to others and others react to him, then surely as other's perceptions of him change in reponse to a superficial outward characteristic such as skin colour, his inward sense or perception of self must also change, thus altering the essence of his soul and the nature of his self knowledge. Griffin found himself referring to blacks as 'we' and 'us', and he experienced a frightening identity crisis; after all, when you look black and others respond to you as black and either alienate or integrate you according to your blackness, the only thing preventing you from being black is your (literal) underlying whiteness! It poses questions about society, social groupings and appearances, and ultimately, how the fragile soul can be damaged or altered as a result of the reactions to the body it occupies. After all, does one's soul have a colour?