A Class Divided: Racism

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“A Class Divided”

Lori Passwater

Soc 164

March 3, 2009

Ms.Elliot's 3rd grade class featured in "A Class Divided" (Frontline, 2003)

The documentary “A Class Divided” is very eye opening into the world of racism and discrimination. The textbook Racial and Ethnic Groups defines racism as “a doctrine that one race is superior” and discrimination as “the denial of opportunities and equal rights to individuals and groups because of prejudice or for other arbitrary reasons” (Schaefer, pp. 14,41). The film’s set the tone for only being able to comprehend these concepts by truly “walking in their moccasins” as Ms. Elliot states. She was just an ordinary teacher that felt a mere discussion on these subjects just wasn’t enough in light of the times. The assisnation of Martin Luther King Jr. and the rising division of our nation by color demanded something else. This is when she decided to give a lesson based on blue eyes and brown eyes that would give rise to a microcosm society in her 3rd grade classroom (Frontline, 2003). As I examine this film, I hope to give better incite about the feelings and attitudes towards racism and discrimination.

The first part of the film introduces Ms Elliot and her all white 3rd grade class in Riceville, Iowa in 1968. This was the third year that Ms. Elliot used the blue eyed/brown eyed discrimination lesson in her classroom. She begins the day by discussing with the children the issues of racism, discrimination, and stereotyping. She then divides the class based on whether they have blue eyes or brown (Frontline, 2003). The decision is made that the blue eyed children were to be the dominant race the first day and the brown eyed children were to wear collars signaling their eye color to everyone. She told the students that the blue eyed people were better and smarter than brown eyed people. The blue eyed kids were to get 5 minutes extra recess, we allowed to drink directly from the water fountain,...
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