“White Like Me” is “Saturday Night Live” at it’s absolute best. Starring Eddie Murphy at his apex, the 1984 skit depicts a fictitious New York in which white people get free papers, buses change when there are no black people aboard, and banks treat white people and black people differently.
In the skit, Murphy dresses up as a white man, perfectly coiffing himself, learning to fit in with white people by watching episodes of “Dynasty” and reading Hallmark cards in order to perfectly capture the white voice. He then begins to walk around New York to try and see the changes.
“What are you doing?” a clerk asks Murphy as he tries to purchase a paper incognito.
“Buying this paper,” responds Murphy.
“It’s alright, there’s nobody around, just take it,” the clerk responds, and Murphy awkwardly walks away with paper in hand. Murphy continues to experience New York as a white man, finding out what exactly lies behind the curtain, and eventually he goes from a wide-eyed observer to a man ready to game the system.
Murphy discovers how deep the conspiracy runs when he goes onto a bus, and once the only other black man leaves, drinks and refreshments are served. Then he decides to go and see how white people are treated at a bank. He gets treated properly by a black representative, and then a white one tells the black clerk to go and says to Murphy (“Mr. White”) that no paperwork is necessary and that Murphy can take all the cash he wants, with no worries about paying it back.
“That silly negro,” Murphy says in jest to the bank worker, and they laugh. “Tell me, do you know of any other banks like this in the area?”
The skit ends with Murphy talking about how there are still discrepancies in society but warning that he has a lot of friends who have a lot of makeup.