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Desc:Blue eyes, brown eyes lady conducts her experiement in Britain circa 2009
Category:Classic TV Clips, Educational
Tags:racism, Channel 4, Jane Elliott
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Comment count is 29
baleen - 2014-01-14
Watched this in the hopper.
She was much more sedated here and far less confrontational, which suggests that something happened that required some editing around. The fact that she said she will never do a group this big again confirms my suspicion.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this stuff. I've had to do some intense race awareness workshops, nothing quite like this, but it's a trip to see the power struggles and varying levels of obliviousness and contempt.
Jet Bin Fever - 2014-01-20
I enjoyed it because I took it on a pure entertainment level instead of putting any extra intellectual quality into it. I think some of the numerous lengthy commenters below would have appreciated this show more if instead of focusing on any racial implications, they focused on how absolutely terribly these people behaved, despite knowing from the get go that the whole thing is a very brief, very safe game.

Oh no! Sarnies! How ever shall we survive the afternoon?

Bobonne - 2014-01-14
Truly evil. I watched this a month or two ago, and it infuriated me more than almost anything I can recall in recent memory. Not Ms Elliott. Not the experiment itself. But I don't think I've ever seen such a bunch of so obliviously shitheaded people in one place at one time, if one excludes things like GOP presidential conventions and other such gatherings of professionals.

But these were just 'normal' people, and I was left utterly dumbfounded at how they absolutely refused, for one second, to acknowledge the fact that they might actually be wrong in some of their beliefs, no, more than that, at the very NOTION that they might actually be part of the problem. And yes, I know how stupid people can be, but to have it thrust in your face like this...

Five for stomach-churning evil of the average person.
Bort - 2014-01-14
I like how the white folks (of both eye colors) object to the very nature of this experience, while the non-whites are like "eh, it's only a few hours, maybe it'll be good for them". No delight in sticking it to Whitey, just a desire to let the whites taste enough to begin to get it.

Schoolteacher lady makes me laugh, she has absolutely no idea she exposed herself as a fool before her family, friends, coworkers, and students.

BorrowedSolution - 2014-01-14
As a brown-eyed person, I would have been much more aggressive with my racism.

1) Help Jane Elliot shout down detractors

2) Hiss, boo, and laugh at everything they say. Holler racist non-sequiturs at random intervals.

3) Eat my delicious buffet two feet from the fence, and laugh at their tuna sandwiches openly.

4) Call any brown-eyed detractors race traitors and accuse them of miscegenation. "You got some blue in your family or something? That your problem?"

BorrowedSolution - 2014-01-14
Wasn't supposed to be a reply.

That guy - 2014-01-14
There's at least a chance that the show's producers have cherry-picked the participants. This isn't my first instinct, or my first thought about this show, but it is by no means impossible.

Rodents of Unusual Size - 2014-01-14
I hate this woman and everything she's ever done. Also, I've been called racist for this.

I don't believe this makes as much of an impact as she thinks it does.
Rodents of Unusual Size - 2014-01-14
The fact that she has conducted this experiment so many times on innocent children makes me despise her. These are adults, so whatever, they can leave. Children in a school can't.

I hate her. So much.

BorrowedSolution - 2014-01-14
Oh hell, I've been avoiding watching this because it sounded trumped-up and ridiculous. Now I must watch it for those same reasons.

Rodents of Unusual Size - 2014-01-14
One of the reasons I dislike her methods so much is my grandmother was a schoolteacher for 35 years in California. She fought against school segregation. She spoke out against it. She wanted black students in her class and would just tell her students she didn't tolerate any crap from anyone on that issue. She was strict but fair, in her own words.

This particular experiment is just that. You should not experiment on children like this and use them as your emotional lab rats so you can champion your position, whatever it is. It is possible to discuss racism without resorting to this kind of stunt, and sorry but that is exactly what it is.

I also view doing this to children as child abuse. And the woman at the beginning of this is quite correct when she says that Jane is assuming only white people have to learn about racism.

That guy - 2014-01-15
100% agreed about her, especially the kids part. I would bet any amount of money that kids don't have the mental tools necessary for this kind of exercise. The blue/brown kids of decades past probably made all kinds of false conclusions about themselves that had nothing to do with the experiment's goals. This probably needs to be for adults-only. Heck, a fraction of them couldn't handle it.

Since I've been thinking about this vid for a few days [caught it in the hopper], and most of my thoughts relate to yours, I'm going to dump them all out here:

0) I take the difficulty of pointing out certain race issues to certain people as important and interesting, but not what interests me about *this* video.

1) I can't dismiss the type of workshop. But I think a smarter, better person could run a smarter, better workshop. It would probably involve more subtle kinds of prejudice, if it's meant to actually simulate racism in the US/UK as a whole. Half of this is apartheid-style shit.

2) psych experiments like Milgram or Stanford Prison may teach the observers or participants *something* about human nature. But what exactly, and is it worth it? Could you potentially do more harm than good with this sort of thing?

3) I have to sympathize with the walk-outs, ultimately. I've had interesting conversations with people like the black woman and the guy with the dreads, and they've led to new thoughts for me. This workshop's situation is a walk-out situation.

4) The blonde schoolteacher is pretty insane. However, her reactions may be more severe because of the nature of psychological self-defense that she's pushed into. A better workshop leader, say a trained psychologist who likes humanity, instead of Jane Elliott, can probably catch more flies with honey.

5) I would bet that this workshop's roster was put together in a legitimate way, but you don't have to think very hard about how you could rig it to have blue-eyed idiots and brown-eyed thinkers.

6) They must have edited the shit out of these conversations.

Anecdotally: far as walking stereotypes go, Jane Elliott is a pretty bad one. I hate to point at stereotypes and gawk, and I've had a fairly easy life, but my 3rd grade through undergrad years were made far shittier by a half-dozen incarnations of the 'hate-filled lesbian educator'-- for them to be caustically prejudiced against [straight white] male students, in the name of consciousness-raising from a position of power is a kind of liberalism with feet of clay, at best. I'd give examples, but they just about beggar belief.

BorrowedSolution - 2014-01-15
Okay, but now imagine you're black.

Spooky, right?

That guy - 2014-01-15

Fezren - 2014-01-15
I don't see a group of oblivious white people who "just can't understand racism". Why would you draw that conclusion from this exercise? Why does the idea that a white person isn't willing to put up with a powerless situation an indicator of naiveté? It seems to me that an unwillingness to accept racism and an unjust situation would be an incredibly healthy response.

I think it's incredibly ignorant and demeaning to assume that someone who would fight against racism rather than accept it is just ignorant and unsympathetic. I really don't see the link between the concepts.

I'm sure the stereotype of the unsympathetic white person plays true often enough, but it's still a fucking stereotype and it's wrong to judge broad groups of people like that and a move in the wrong direction to achieving equality.
Bort - 2014-01-15
About the impact of this not very nice (by her own admission) experience. From Wikipedia:

"More than 450 children went through her exercise from 1968 to 1984 and many[who?] say that she is "a hero, a teacher extraordinaire, whose simple experiment, which lasted just two days, forever changed their lives." Almost all these students say that they remember the exercise very vividly and that it made them think, and try to be different. As to whether they want their own children or students to experience it, results are mixed."

"Academic research into Elliott’s exercise shows moderate results in reducing long-term prejudice, but is inconclusive if the possible psychological harm outweighs the potential benefits."

"Measured results of the diversity training for adults are moderate. The outcomes of a 1990 research by the Utah State University were that virtually all of the subjects reported that the experience was meaningful for them. However, the statistical evidence supporting the effectiveness of the activity for prejudice reduction was moderate; and virtually all of the participants, as well as the simulation facilitator, reported stress from the simulation."

"Another program evaluation in 2003, held by Georgia University professor Tracie Stewart, showed that white students got significantly more positive attitudes toward Asian American and Latino/Latina individuals, but only marginally more positive attitudes toward African American individuals. In some courses, participants can feel frustrated about "their inability to change" and instead begin to feel anger against the very groups they are supposed to be more sensitive to. It can also lead to anxiety because people become hyper-sensitive about being offensive or being offended. There are no good long-term outcome measures of effects, if any, of these training initiatives."

So the impact is inconclusive. One argument I don't buy, though, is that Jane Elliott shouldn't be so mean or the experience shouldn't be stressful: the entire point is that racism is hard on its victims, and yet a lot of people can't or won't see that racism even exists. Except that they kind of can, when it dawns on them that whites are suddenly going to become victims. As one critic wrote to Jane Elliott, "How dare you try this cruel experiment out on white children."
Rodents of Unusual Size - 2014-01-15
I just favorited this for evil.

Like, this is right up there with the guy that makes his son bleed.

This is a political agenda. It's nothing more. This woman could have made a much more legitimate non racist way of proving her point but the fact that she goes only after blue eyed students while claiming that she isn't saying only white people are racist is really, really contradictory. She goes on and on about how stupid and racist white people are and how literally all of them have to unlearn racism.

But black kids don't need to learn those things, right?

WRONG! I got my ass beat up in junior high for being smaller (I skipped a grade) and a couple of big black minority students twice my size decided to scream "I fucking hate white people" as they BEAT MY FUCKING ASS. I remember that beating. I remember my limbs being pummeled into the cement before they bolted upon the arrival of a janitor. No, I did not have it coming. I didn't have a bone in my body that was violent. I never wanted to hurt anyone. I was already abused as a kid and all it did was make me suicidal at the time.

The reason I tell this story (I never have my entire time at PoE) is that a lot of people excuse black on white racism or try to brush it off or ignore it or downplay it but it is very real. The media shies away from it because they are worthless and it doesn't make for great ratings, right?

If this woman was serious she would choose another feature like big ears or short people or short hair or a big chin or something that crosses the racial divide. She claims that she is teaching everyone about racism but then completely shoves this aside and lambasts white people for being racist in their nature.

Spaceman Africa - 2014-01-15
Kill whitey

Bort - 2014-01-15
I'm very very sorry for your terrible experience.

Now imagine if you had to deal with an entire culture that considers your race at least one strike against you, and it was an issue that could and would pop up unexpectedly at any time, very possibly impacting your ability to land a job, get an apartment, or walk home with Skittles and a beverage.

Rodents of Unusual Size - 2014-01-15
All white people should shut up because they are not Trayvon Martin. Okay. I guess that means nothing ever happens to white people because racist black people want to kill them. Like oh I dunno



oh and yeah there's also


Only black people should be pitied. White people that are murdered by blacks should also shut up.

But George Zimmerman is a wannabe cop moron so white people don't feel any pain whatsoever. I mean what.

Rodents of Unusual Size - 2014-01-15
and the last link was a news story I remembered but it's on the channel of someone that hates blacks and I'm going to go pound my head against a wall now.

Rodents of Unusual Size - 2014-01-15
also if you want to trade sob stories I have plenty, Bort. I was orphaned, grew up in a wooden shack without electricity, gas, or plumbing. I had no one to give me any life skills of any kind. I was surrounded by drug addicts and alcoholics. I had no idea how to get a job. I was so broke I often stole food to get by because I didn't have the qualifications for a food bank. I was told I was too young as a teen to qualify. Later, I managed to put myself through community college and get into state, having no life whatsoever in order to make this happen. I got out of college only to I was motherfucking homeless for a period of my life. I went back to stealing food because food banks told me I didn't have a street address. Sometimes I couch surfed. Sometimes I slept in parks. That was real privileged!

I eventually got a shit minimum wage job and managed to barely survive for years only to get another minimum wage job for an even longer period of time so that college degree in English really helped me out a lot along with my privileged white background!

I really don't need anyone telling me how fucking lucky I am not to be the victim of racism all my life. People have looked down on me for not knowing how to drive, not having parents, being gay, being poor, not being good looking, and generally being clueless throughout my 20s as to what people wanted on a job interview, a resume, and I generally had no confidence whatsoever until I hit my 30s.

But if anyone ever tells me how lucky I am, to be white and not be arrested for being white, they can seriously go fuck themselves. Including you!

Bort - 2014-01-15
Yeah, you had it rough. But making this video all about you is really not a very good look.

And -- oh I know you're going to love hearing this -- if you'd been black, things likely would have been even rougher. You might well have not made it to 18. Even if you made it that far you might well have not found so many couches available for the surfing, you might not have been able to sleep in the park without being charged with vagrancy, and you probably would have been watched a hell of a lot more closely as you were stealing food. I'm not sure where "stealing tofu" falls in the prison pecking order, but I'm guessing not very near the top.

Yeah, you were given a hell of a lot of crap to deal with, more than any person should have to. I won't challenge that in the slightest, and genuine props to you for making it through all that, battered and bruised but still standing. But here's a counter go-fuck-yourself for making like your suffering and only your suffering matters. Whatever disadvantages you had, you still had the advantage of being white, which makes you more "a guy down on his luck" and less "typical of their kind". And yes, black racists exist, but they aren't in any position at all to subject whites to systemic injustice.

That guy - 2014-01-15
A convo about racism really shouldn't be filtered through this video. The 2 black people who talk the most have a lot of really useful things to say to the few whites who don't want to hear it. The asshole leader's bullshit workshop is wrapped around all of it.

It's really easy for some people to find those useful thoughts to be the most important thing, as it is in the big picture.

It's really easy for some people to find the Jane Elliott bullshit to be the most salient feature of this video. Jamming values up asses with hatefulness is no way to go about changing people. The most in-your-face methods mostly just polarize. The most intractable person in the workshop [blonde teacher] left it more intractable.
There wouldn't have been much of a conversation without the blonde teacher's idiocy, which is part of why I think "The Event" is fucking stupid. Trying to convince a stubborn idiot isn't exactly scintillating.

I voted for this in the hopper because I was curious about whether fellow poetv-ers would find the participant dialogue more interesting or the asshole teacher more interesting, so I guess I got my wish.

Bort, your last sentence 'black racists exist, but...' is a little dismissive. It doesn't take much for the tables to turn. And comparisons are dumb past a certain point. "At least your family was just murdered by a psychopath, and not exterminated in gas chambers."

And I don't think 'if you were black it would be worse' can always be used as a trump card, for two reasons: it is not the case that every black is worse off than every white in every way, and past a certain point, you're just trifling with someone else's misery.

The last time I talked about racism and realized some new things was with smart friends in a fairly sober conversation [not sober as in, there were beers;
but sober as in 'not emotion-laden talk radio sound bites']
It started with talking about getting pulled over for shitty reasons and ended with a long convo about 'driving while black'. Some DWB was about what I imagined, and some was way, way, way worse. I didn't need Jane Elliott for that, or for anything else I learned across the years.

Bort - 2014-01-15
As Jane says at one point, she doesn't run a "nice" seminar because "nice" is very easy to blow off.

She did a good job of putting the blue-eyes in a no-win situation, and I think that was particularly instructive -- for example, when the blue-eyes object to their treatment, it's just proof that they're argumentative and they always want more, more, more. I also liked when the blond teacher asked the black lady "what are YOU going to do to ..." and Jane picked right up on that and made an example of it. The teacher didn't learn a thing, but I bet the people around her did. (Which makes her the best teacher of all?)

BorrowedSolution - 2014-01-15
I don't believe at all that Jane Elliot looks down on white people specifically for their racism; she clearly states several times that everybody is racist. She's working in countries where white people are the majority citizens; it makes sense to focus efforts on the majority citizens; it's not that none of them have ever suffered discrimination, or, as somebody so rightly said, that no white person has ever suffered worse discrimination than any member of a minority group. But to imply that the sense of discrimination is PROPORTIONAL on a national scale is...well...pretty racist. The scales are completely different to the point where you're essentially saying "As long as some white people are suffering worse than any given black person, we can dismiss this out of hand."

Stay classy, RoUS.

Rodents of Unusual Size - 2014-01-15
Sorry, I kind of had a complete emotional breakdown yesterday. I've been going through an intense depression and this just brought up a lot of shitty memories for me in school getting bullied and picked on, memories that I have repressed for literally most of my life because my brain literally can't handle them.

I just don't buy the idea that all blacks have it worse than whites. A lot of black people in the United States hate white people and there has been a surge on violence against whites that yes, did not exist when Jane was starting out.

There's racism everywhere. Everything is shitty. It's depressing as fuck. I just hate her singling out whites as the only responsible party. It takes two to fucking tango.

One of the reasons I hate Bo News is their continued insistence that all whites should feel like they need to apologize for the state of the world and I completely refuse to. I'm not responsible for what the police do. I'm not responsible for what George Zimmerman did. Or Hitler for that matter. I am not responsible for black kids not getting the money white kids do in schools that are separated by class and race. I realize shitty racist things happen but they don't just happen from whites.

I resent the implication that I somehow need to admit that I'm a racist just because this woman thinks we all need to "unlearn" racism. That's one of the stupidest generalizations I've ever heard anybody say. She is saying she knows every human soul inside and out if she makes a statement like that.

Yeah my life has been shitty. No my suffering isn't worse or more important. But it's my suffering and it's at least equal. I hate the idea of saying that just because I'm white I should be grateful for having some sort of pass or break in life. How many black people were beat up and had people yell at them that it was for being black? I'm guessing less than in the 60s when this experiment first began.

Also, I have the perspective of living in South Korea and I have been a second class rung for about two years, always having to be on my best behavior because I only speak the language marginally, I am always nice and I still get treated like shit by natives here and there, and I often get lied to or looked down upon for being a Westerner. I've dealt with all of this with the knowledge that shit happens and you can't do anything about it. And yeah it's only for two years of my life but I do have some fucking perspective here. I just hate that being marginalized and being told I can't possibly understand what it's like to be black because I'm white.

The truth is I have been suicidal for a majority of my life and feeling that way I have always been jealous of practically anyone, white, black or any other race that can access feelings of happiness and positivity all the time. I can't do that. The best I can do is remain steady which I do most of the time.

I dunno. I think racism is awful but you don't want to be like Bo News and just make blatant accusations in utter condescension about how no one can possibly understand what it's like, and you HAVE to be educated about what it's like to be black in order to have empathy for all blacks. It's so extreme and off putting.

Yes, I realize I'm sharing a lot here but I am far from home, I've been trying to adapt to a society that sees me as inferior no matter what I do, I have a few Koreans who see me as a "good" Westerner...so it's not like I don't have a legitimate viewpoint here.

Bort - 2014-01-16
Hey RoUS, I'm sorry I was rough on you. You are a good guy, and I would give you half my sarnie any time no questions asked. (I have blue eyes so I wouldn't have access to the cordon bleu, but I seem to recall you're a vegetarian anyway.)

The thing I have to give Jane credit for is, while not all white folks are significantly racist, NOBODY thinks they are racist, so it's damn difficult to self-diagnose. You'll have people who insist they're simply saying what everyone secretly knows about blacks but the PC Jackbooted Thugs won't let you say. You'll have other people who think blacks have everything handed to them on a silver platter, and that's unfair to whites. Neither bunch thinks they're racist; as they see it, they're just calling it like it is.

So, how do you know if you're racist? How do you know you're not harboring some backwards perspectives that you simply weren't aware of? I know I've got some minor racial tics -- mostly revolving around white guilt -- but there could be more that I don't even perceive. If I were in Jane's class, I don't think I'd enjoy the experience -- blue eyes -- but I like to think I'd be on watch for being on the receiving end of behavior I thought was appropriate or at least harmless.

As for Bo News, their entire game is being shitty shitty people, while playing at moral superiority by going after other people for not making large enough displays of social virtue. They don't count except as a cautionary tale. (I don't know if you recall back on PoE-News, but I was one of the few people who called them on the about-face they did regarding "fag" as a pejorative. While I agree that people should stop doing that, I figured it out long before a lot of them did, and stopped on my own ... and yet you didn't see me going around calling everyone homophobes.)

Jet Bin Fever - 2014-01-20
ROUS, you need to take a vacation from this site or the whole internet if something like this can upset you like that. You also may want to seek counseling for some of those issues. I'm not trying to be snarky, I really think it would be in your best interest to work that stuff out.

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