Friday, May 05, 2006

"Reasons, Rights and Responsibilities" and Racism

Amazing Radio Open Source program on racism and the power of education in promoting and ending it with guest Jane Elliott, former teacher and anti-racism activist famous for her 1968 experiment in which she divided her all white class by eye color demonstrating how discrimination based on identity is constructed by power and authority.

An excerpt from Radio Open Source on Jane Elliott and her important study:

In response to Martin Luther King’s assassination, schoolteacher Jane Elliott devised a simple yet revealing exercise that helped her students understand the pathology of racism and prejudice — “The Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes” experiment. This experiment was featured in the 1985 Frontline Documentary, A Class Divided.

On April 5, 1968, the day after King was shot Elliott divided her all-white classroom into two groups on the basis of eye color, blue or brown. Those with blue eyes were inferior; those with brown eyes were superior. Within minutes the “superior” students exhibited arrogance and a sense of entitlement while the “inferior” group felt insecure and vulnerable. The following day, when Elliott reversed the experiment, the children who had been subordinate only the day before quickly took on the role as the oppressor, and vice versa.

Here's the show: Race, Class and Racism

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