Years ago, I read a book called Black Like Me, and, as I recall, it had quite an impact on me.
In 1959, the author of the book, John Howard Griffin, a white man, undertook a project on his own to darken his skin and go into the American South to see what life was really like for the blacks there.
Recently, I was questioned by a black lady about my interest in her blog and part of my explanation included that I had read Black Like Me as a young man and that it had made an impression on me. She is an older lady and what she is doing with her life today as well as her her reflections on the past is fascinating. I don’t know if I was able to explain satisfactorily why a middle aged white guy with a science and technology background would be interested in the blogging of an old black lady grounded in the humanities.
While in Little Rock last Sunday, I found and purchased a copy of the book and read it from cover to cover over the next couple of evenings. This is the third time that I have read it, and, once again, it has made an impression.
The South that Griffin visited as a black man in 1959 for the most part no longer exists outside of the history books and memories. Segregated schools and separate facilities — or lack of facilities — for non-whites have been left in the past.
However, hatred, racism, and bigotry have not been been left behind. Prejudice, unfortunately, is still alive and well.
“But,” the reader asks, “What does that have to do with your changes, with your moving out of your comfort zone.”
The answer is that I have not fully addressed my own prejudices and I carefully stay away from anything that has anything to do with race, homosexuality, gender bias, profiling, immigration and anything else that is related to the prejudices of others.
Lorelle VanFossen has a blog challenge for readers to “blog about where you find your inspiration to blog.”
Going forward, and in moving out of my comfort zone of only writing about things that are safe, I will be looking for and writing about things that challenge my perceptions and the perceptions of others. I’m going to be diplomatic and still try to use reason, logic, and persuasion in presenting things that might be a little uncomfortable for me, and , perhaps, for some readers. But, I won’t be avoiding all of the hard topics that I steered clear of in the past.
I’ll still be doing many of the things that I did before on the blog, of course, including photography and travel.
I plan to re-read Black Like Me again soon.