A Class Divided
Racism, a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others (“racism”), has been a significant problem for decades. In the 1960’s, Martin Luther King Jr., a U.S. civil rights leader, was assassinated, which lead to an upsurge in animosity between the Caucasian and African American people.
Jane Elliot, a teacher at Community Elementary School, in the small town of Riceville, Iowa, executed an experiment with her third grade students. Elliot wanted to show how racism and discrimination can affect a person’s feeling of self-worth and intelligence. The day after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Elliot started class by asking her students if there were people in the United States that are not treated like brothers. Instantaneously, the children say, “The black people…and Indians”. Once Elliot proposed her plan, the students seem to be intrigued and willing to play along.
Elliot initiated by segregating the class into two groups based on their eye colors, blue and brown. The first day, she termed the blue-eyed children “superior” and brown-eyed children “inferior”. Elliot intentionally ridiculed everything brown-eyed children did in order to support her claims and convince the others. In and out of class, Elliott demeaned brown-eyed student by stating how much more sluggish they were to finish tasks, how unprepared they were, and how they demonstrated deviant behavior. She recruits the blue-eye children to support here and instigate the fictional behavioral deficiencies. For example, a student said his brown-eyed father wasn’t stupid. Elliott responded by stating the child’s brown-eyed father had kicked him in the past and blue-eyed father wouldn’t do such a thing, suggesting blue-eyed fathers are superior. Once child suggested Elliott keep a yardstick nearby so she can...
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