How Racist Are You? Not the Lesson Intended

Last night I watched Channel 4’s documentary in which American school teacher Jane Elliot conducted a demonstration of how racism feels by dividing a group of volunteers along lines of eye colour and discriminating against the blue-eyed group. From the outset the blue-eyed group were treated badly by Ms Elliot, being put down and ridiculed by the fierce moderator herself, segregated into an uncomfortable room for two hours, before being put with the brown-eyed group who she had attempted to prime to treat the blue-eyed group as inferior. Her original aim had been to demonstrate to her own class of all white children how it felt to be discrminated against for something as arbitrary as eye-colour is unfair and illogical.  She described that in her original exercise… “I watched how what had been marvelous, wonderful, thoughtful, co-operative children turn into nasty, viscous, discriminating little third-graders.”  Leaving aside how unethical her experiment […]