Study Guide

Black Like Me Chapter 10

By John Howard Griffin

Chapter 10

November 14, 1959

  • So it turns out that being black is not nearly as fun as Griffin thought it was going to be. Huh. In the 1950s South? Who would have thunk it?
  • Seems that being unable to do the most basic of human functions without being reminded that you are a second-class citizen takes a toll on a person.
  • To make matters worse, a jury in Mississippi has allowed lynchers to roam free. The black community is not too happy about it, to say the least.
  • Since Griffin was a man who likes to flirt with danger, he decides to head down to Mississippi. Everyone tells him not to, but he doesn't care.
  • He's running low on cash, so he tries to cash a traveler's check. No one will do it until he heads to the Catholic bookstore.
  • Then, when he goes to buy a ticket, he gets another wonderful moment of racism when the ticket teller gives him the "hate stare" for no reason. Today's just a good day for him, we can tell.
  • Finally, he gets on the bus. The drama doesn't stop there.
  • Some guy named Christophe is arguing with everyone, and saying that they are stupid in multiple languages. Griffin guesses that he's high. All sorts of shenanigans follow, so you should probably read them.
  • Christophe gets off the bus, and all the black people sitting around Griffin give him advice, basically The Dummies Guide to Being Black in Mississippi. It doesn't sound like fun.
  • At the bus stop the driver doesn't let the black people off to use the bathroom, so they start plotting their revenge of peeing on the bus. Then they decide against it, because they know that the driver will just think that they're animals that can't hold their own pee.
  • Anyway, back on the road.
  • At the end Griffin gets some help from a guy named Bill Williams. He helps him find a place to stay and tells him how to be safe.
  • Griffin seems okay at first, but it only takes him a little while to realize that coming to Mississippi was a horrible idea. He's pretty depressed.
  • He sees the picture of life outside of his hotel room, and it's not pretty. People are drinking away their sorrows.
  • Griffin says that white people might mistake this for living jubilantly, but he thinks it's just a way to dull the pain of living a hopeless life.
  • Remember how we told you that Griffin was feeling depressed? We meant really depressed.
  • He spends the next couple of pages talking about how much life sucks for black people, and how he can't believe that white people are so terrible to them.
  • He's so depressed that he needs to get out of Mississippi, like now! So he calls up a white friend and stays with him for a while.
  • His friend, P. D. East, is already known for seeking equality for black people. He takes Griffin in, and even gives him a copy of his autobiography. In it, he reads how East changed from being a journalist who appeased Southern racist views into one who challenged them. It wasn't easy, and he lost friends, subscribers, and was threatened with violence.
  • But it must be a pretty good book, since Griffin doesn't stop to sleep and reads all night long.