- Nov 13, 2015
John Howard Griffin was perhaps the best-known race swapper of the 20th century.
In 1959, the white Texan writer went undercover as a black man in the Jim Crow South. Griffin spent days under a tanning lamp, took drugs for the skin pigmentation disorder vitiligo and shaved his head but otherwise spoke and acted exactly as he had as a white man. In assignments for the African-American magazine Sepia and later his acclaimed book Black Like Me, Griffin aimed to convey to white Americans what it was like to be the other. This was before Rachel Dolezal, Iggy Azalea or any of the Kardashians; blackness for him was not a cultural adornment but a target on his back.
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