A Young Black Man in an Old White Guy Disguise

It would be presumptuous of me to make such a claim, but I was actually so described by Marc Peart, a man I love and respect. As he is black, his statement was profoundly meaningful to me.
Only one white person ever truly comprehended the black experience in America. That was John Howard Griffin, who undertook to alter his appearance and live and travel in the Jim Crow South in 1959 as a black man.
His book, Black Like Me, fueled the Civil Rights Movement.
I doubt many blacks were particularly impressed with Griffin’s experiences, as they lived them daily, but Griffin’s revelations shook white America to its core.
Most of white America ignored Griffin, but many did not. What I took away from the book was how tolerant blacks are of the country and people who abused and abuse them so horribly.
I read Black Like Me when it was first published in 1961. It inspired me to study the history of slavery, to evolve into a revolutionary socialist, to despise capitalism, and to embrace a crazy Bible thumping radical abolitionist preacher as my hero.
That preacher was John Brown, who led an ill-fated raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, in 1859.
Had Brown been successful in fomenting and leading a rebellion of slaves and abolitionists against slaveowners, traders, brokers, auction houses and slave shippers, the Civil War would have been avoided, and half million Americans would have not been sacrificed to war.
Instead, the US government hanged John Brown.
I like to think I would have been as courageous as were the 21 men who stormed the arsenal with him.
Although slavery is no longer legal, oppression of blacks is ubiquitous, and the murder of black men and children by police in the streets is commonplace.
The only thing more surprising to me than the lack of justice for blacks murdered in the streets is that the cops responsible are not being taken out by black vigilantes.



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4 thoughts on “A Young Black Man in an Old White Guy Disguise

  1. I also find it hard to not admire John Brown. Injustice and suffering that are institutionalized and accepted by society beg for violence and vigilantism.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think life has got even harder for black people under the Donald. I never see him in the company of black people and his cabinet is almost completely white.

    However, as an Englishman who lived in the US, I was truly impressed by the ambition and drive of many black people who were determined to overcome the racial barrier and make successes of their lives. Long may this continue…

    Liked by 1 person

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