Jane Elliott’s blue eyes and brown eyes experiment in racism

by , under Enrique

After the death of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, an elementary school teacher called Jane Elliott of Riceville, Iowa, carried out an experiment on her third-graders to demonstrate the destructive force that racism and discrimination unleashes. Since the small farming community had no blacks, she divided her students according to the color of their eyes.

brown-eyes_blue-eyes1
Source: Chantellemorrison’s blog.

One of the matters that surprised her was how rapidly each group learned to adapt to their roles of discriminator and discriminated.

The point is pretty clear: Racism exists because it gives you power to control other groups. Those groups that weiled power over other minorities use a destructive and immoral social construct like racism to ensure that your victims conform and “play the game.”

Elliot said at the end of the three-part video on her blue- versus brown-eyed experiment that if you aren’t a racist by the time you graduate from high school, you failed social sciences.

If we put Elliott’s experiment in a Finnish perspective, it’s pretty clear to see where the problem lies: Denial. Add to the latter the social construct of Finnish national identity and it becomes clear that what we have learned about who we are is in conflict with living with other groups that are different from us. This is one of the biggest challenges facing Finland and which will eventually revolutionize the way we see ourselves as a country in this century.

Elliot blames racism and discrimination on ignorance and because we’re conditioned to the myth of white superiority.

She concludes: “I don’t care what people think. Did I make a positive difference in the area of racism and that’s what I want to do.”

Leave a Reply