Black Like Me: Whites Who Passed For Black!


In recent news, Rachel Dolezal, President of the Spokane, Washington NAACP whose parents came forward to reveal she was white. Rachel Dolezal who identifies herself as black is not the first white person to pass for Black! Now this article is not to take away from the fact that what she did may be looked at by some as fraud, cultural appropriation or down right lying, yet some say she is alright with me. This is to bring to the attention of others that this is not the first time this has happened.

The reason behind these transformations that are listed below is: journalistic and social experimentation, inspired by another person’s experiment as being black and many other reasons.


John Howard Griffin

John Howard Griffin is the author of Black Like Me. May people may have read this book that was published in 1961 as part of an school assignment or on your own. Griffin who was a novelist, darkened his skin and became black so that he could comprehend the affections of segregation.

The book describes a six week experience traveling through racially segregated states of Lousiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.

Phillip and Paul Malone

Phillip and Paul Malone “are fair-haired, fair-complexioned identical twins who worked for the Boston Fire Depart-ment for 10 years. Last month both were dismissed when a state agency ruled that they had lied on their job applications: They had contended they were black,” reports the Chicago Tribune. There dismissal took place in 1988.

The case raised many questions. The Chicago Tribune reports, “investigations, asked: “How could twins with Irish names, Caucasian features and no black identification from any perspective get into the force and stay on without collusion? Such misuse denies opportunity to people of color, for whom these plans are designed.”

In 1975, the twins first took the Civil Service test to become firefighters and failed. They reapplied in 1977 and stated that they were black after their mother found a photograph of their great-grandmother who she said was black. They won appointments in 1978.


Grace Halsell

Being inspired by the book Black Like Me written by John Howard Griffin, Halsell decided to embark on her own experiment as a Black woman. Halsell took pigmentation pills used to alleviate pigmentation problems along with tanning that helped darken her skin.

She wrote about the experience in her 1969 book, Soul Sister. In the book, “she described the anonymity and degradation of being a black domestic in a world of white employers, one of whom tried to rape her. The book sold more than one million copies and was translated into six languages,” according to The New York Times.






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s