Across the Southern states in the deep South, black law makers moved with haste to pass Jim Crow legislation to insure legal and enforceable separation of the races. Motivated by personal biases and political ambition, it is expected that Jim Crow segregation to remain in full force for years to come.
But if you’re wondering where this is coming from, you’re not alone. The idea of Jim Crow segregation isn’t new. What is new is its application towards white Americans as depicted in the book Looking over Black Shoulders, written and illustrated by graduate student, Adam L. Perkins. It vividly portrays living life as a white person while being subjected to legalized Jim Crow segregation at the hands of the dominating black South. A very hard life in comparison to blacks at that time.
The book is replete with photos of the white struggle so realistic that many would believe this was actual history, an important sentiment. Readers go on a counterfactual roller coaster ride and become eyewitnesses to degrading and humiliating signs targeted at whites, including the denial of access to public facilities such as state parks and restaurants. Read the “White Codes” and witness its powerful effects on voting rights through the poll tax, literacy tests and grandfather clause.
In addition, readers will feel the wrath and hatred of the violent black supremacist group known as the Black Riders Association (B.R.A). They will peep in on courtrooms officiated by black segregationist judges. Experience school segregation and “white face”. Watch a white child consistently choose the black doll as the better doll during the administration of the doll test and much more.
An eyeopener is an understatement. One of Looking over Black Shoulders book reviews says in part, “…not since John Howard Griffin’s Black Like Me, has a writer so captured the essence of race relations in America.” Perkins says he believes this book is for this time. “Although things have changed, what hasn’t changed is how segregation is viewed. Truthfully, we’ve only had a legal eradication of Jim Crow. What we need is a moral eradication of Jim Crow and this book will be instrumental in making that happen.”
While using role reversal as a learning technique isn’t new, the uniqueness of this historical fiction perspective is that Looking over Black Shoulders is the only book in print in the U.S., and likely the world, which depicts this alternative view. With all that’s going on in the country today, it’s arguably the anecdote America needs.
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