All white people are raised with some sort of racist beliefs…whether they want to admit it or not. That’ s what Jane Elliot believes and has been preaching for decades.
Jane Elliot was born in 1933 – she’ s an American former third grade teacher, anti-racism activist, educator, public speaker, feminist and LGBT activist.
How would you feel if you were judged strictly based on your eye colour? Brown eyes being more superior to blue eyes. You, with blue eyes, being forced to wear a collar around your neck to signify that you are less than everyone else…and no, you are not allowed to take that collar off because guess what?…people who are discriminated against due to their skin colour, cannot just remove that.
If you take a look at Jane Elliot on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1992 – she has the audience participate, unknowingly, in an exercise and look at how upset some of the white people are for being discriminated against.
It’ s called The Blue Eyed Brown Eyed Experiment – she first tried the exercise with her third grade class on April 5th, 1968 – the day after Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated when the first child who arrived in her classroom asked her “why that King was murdered”. When the rest of the class arrived, she asked the children what they knew abut black people and if they would like to try an exercise to feel what itwould be like to be treated the way a person of colour is treated in America. She then decided to use eye colour rather than skin colour to show the children what segregation would be like.
After the children tried out each role being superior or inferior to the other group – Jane Elliot had them write down what they had learned.
The students’ individual experiences were printed in the Riceville Recorder on April 18, 1968 under the headline “How Discrimination Feels” and then the story was picked up by the Associated Press. After the Associated Press article, Jane Elliot was invited to appear on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson to speak about her exercise in a short interview segment but the audience reaction was negative for the most part.
One letter even said: “How dare you try this cruel experiment out on white children? Black children grow up accustomed to such behavior, but white children, there’s no way they could possibly understand it. It’s cruel to white children and will cause them great psychological damage.”
Jane Elliot became less and less popular after all her publicity – teachers shunned her in the staff room, people whispered about her when she was around, even her eldest daughterwas taunted at school.
In 1970, ABC produced a documentary about Jane Elliot called ‘ The Eye of the Storm” which made her nationally known. Books were written about her, other documentaries made and she began to receive awards, spoke at 350 colleges and universities and has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show five times.
Here is Jane Elliot now, 83 years old and as passionate as ever on why we hate:
“we hate because we’re taught to hate, we hate because we’re ignorant. We are the product of ignorant people who are product of an ignorant thing…”