II-"I Was a Negro in the South for 30 Days" - Ray Sprigle - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

II-"I Was a Negro in the South for 30 Days" - Ray Sprigle - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Acquiring a Negro Appearance

by: Ray Sprigle | publication date: August 10, 1948 | Publication: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | pages: 1

 This thing of suddenly switching races after more than half a century of life as a white man has its problems and difficulties. Remember all those romances you’ve read in which the hero is going to turn Hindu, or Arab or one or the other of the darker races. Remember how almost invariably he goes to "an old woman" in tile nearby village and she gives him a lotion that turns him dark for weeks or months. Well, my trouble, I guess, was that I couldn’t seem to find one of those old women. And in more than six months of searching I couldn’t find any lotion or liquid that would turn a white hide brown or black and still be impervious to perspiration, soap and water and the ravages of ordinary wear and tear. Wait a bit though. Let me modify that last statement. Both Mellon Institute in Pittsburgh and a Long Island chemist I consulted did come up with a permanent stain. Both recommended any one of a series of phenol compounds. But they thought it only fair to warn me that there was one little drawback. It seems that if you covered yourself thoroughly with one of them you’d find yourself thoroughly dead in from 15 minutes to 15 days, depending upon your resistance. I thanked them kindly for their assistance.  

Sprigle discusses the methods he tried in order to disguise himself as African American, eventually settling on developing a deep tan for weeks before the start of his time undercover.

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