Id thought about the idea of living as a black person ever since I read John Howard Griffins Black Like Me. This is an excerpt from Skin Deep: Black Like Me My Own Journey into the heart of Race-Conscious America. It was an intriguing story of how a young white male felt such an urge to encompass the life of a black man that he purposely changed his skin color.
My first reaction was, How strange for someone to do that yet; as I read on I changed my initial reaction of puzzlement to, What a reality check that must have been. There is no denying that racism still occurs and for someone to put themselves in a situation where they know they will fall victim to that is debatable. Some whites may wonder why a person would do such a thing and blacks may say that a few months in their shoes is nothing to an entire lifetime. White people will never know the magnitude of discrimination placed on the black man however, Joshua Solomon, the white man who lived for a few months as a black man, has had the chance to experience what black people go through every day and have gone through for decades.
Even in the first few days as a black man he faced discrimination by whites, ironically by his own nine year-old sister who had for the first time seen him after his transformation yelled, Your Ugly! Sadly, that was just the beginning of what was to come for Joshua as he ventured out into the world as a black man. It was very courageous for him to go to such lengths to understand exactly how bad discrimination is on other races. Before Joshua started his journey, he had the same mind set that most white Americans do. Most white people think that blacks and other races blame everything on race and that it is just a crutch that they use. Curiosity got the best of Joshua and he decided to find out for himself if this were true or not. As I read his tale of I realized that even though he was white and had just simply changed the color of his skin, he was still hurt by the discrimination he endured and even started to think like a black man.
This is obvious when he is walking with Chris, the bum from Gainesville and they are in a black neighborhood and Chris makes the comments Lazy Niggers then expects Joshua to walk him back through. Joshua automatically thinks, Sink or swim white boy. The strange thing is that if anyone who has compassion would read this story then they would understand why he would even think such a thing about his own race. At that very moment he was being discriminated against and even though he was white, at that moment he was black. Everyday he encountered some sort of racism as a black man, whether he was told that a restaurant was full when it wasnt or whether it was an interrogation by a police officer for simply being on the sidewalk. Once he had enough, he decided to go back to his regular white self.
The unfortunate thing is that blacks are basically stuck in the skin that they are in. They cannot change the color of their skin if they feel that they have had enough discrimination. Joshua was able to experience discrimination first hand but still will never know a whole lifetime of struggle. Blacks and all other races have no choice but live in the skin that they are in and sadly deal with the fact that their skin is their sin. While reading Joshuas story, I started to become ashamed of being a white person. I try to treat everyone of all races equal, but it truly upsets me that my respectable encounter with someone of another race or color that could make them forget about discrimination could be defeated later by some racist asshole they may encounter next.
The whole situation involving racism and discrimination and the fact that it still exists and more than likely, always will seems so unfair. This