I am annoyed by those who love mankind but are cruel and discourteous to people.
-Curtis Bok, Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, 1960
This is a book that everyone should read, whites and blacks and every color in between. It is the story of a white man who chemically darkened his skin and lived in the deep south as a black man. It is fascinating and, of course, disturbing. John Griffin made the crossover in 1959, and spent several weeks in the Negro world. He was unable to find a job, and many times forced to walk long distances in order to find a “colored” drinking fountain or restroom. It gives a lot of insight into the subtle (and not-so subtle) ways prejudice manifests itself, plus gives a great deal of insight into the mindset of a minority.
I’d like to compare it with a similar experiment if it were carried out today. How far have we come? How much overt racism still exists? I still vividly remember listening to a conversation between two black contestants at a speech meet when I was in high school, discussing the fact that white judges usually didn’t rate them as high. I was shocked, sheltered little white girl that I was, that such a thing could be still happening then. One of those guys then proceeded to take home the first place ribbon, which he richly deserved so evidently he got fair judges that day!