The Challenges Of Racism In Jane Elliott's Blue Eyed

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When African-American leader and activist Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4th, 1968, third-grade teacher Jane Elliott knew she had to do something to adequately communicate the severity of racism to her students from the all-white, all-Christian rural town of Riceville, Iowa (“California Newsreel”). Deciding to give her class the opportunity to experience the discrimination that blacks go through based on the arbitrary trait of skin color, Elliott set up an exercise in which she discriminated based on another arbitrary trait, eye color. On one day, she treated her blue-eyed students as superior and her brown-eyed students as inferior, citing false evidence to support her discrimination; on the next day, she reversed the roles, using new evidence that brown-eyed people are superior to justify her change. The sharp contrast in the students’ attitudes and behavior between the two days, along with the students’ deeper understanding of the negative effects of discrimination, showed Elliott that her exercise was an effective tool to combat racism and encourage empathy for discriminated minorities. Elliott continued to conduct her “Blue Eyed” exercise in Riceville and later became the pioneer of workplace diversity training when she expanded it into a workshop for business employees. Throughout this process, though, she has faced mounting backlash for her controversial tactics within her exercise, especially from her community. I believe that Jane Elliott’s “Blue Eyed”
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