When Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, many thought his movement on Civil Rights had suffered a great setback. One teacher in Riceville, Iowa knew that King’s death cannot be explained in any other way to her 3rd grade students unless they understand what it means to be Discriminated. The following link is of one of the most requested programs in FRONTLINE’s history, a documentary by William Peters called A Class Divided.
Jane Elliot is the teacher who developed this blue-eyed/brown-eyed exercise. I was surprised while watching it, that such an elegant experiment could change perception in kids so easily. It’s also very harsh on the kids, and I’m not sure the agony was worth their learning. More interesting was the final part of the documentary “How Adults React”. Discrimination, sadly, is present everywhere. In India, in the US or anywhere else. There must be something so flawed in the human nature that it can accept playing a part in discrimination. Is it because we are so diverse? But even then, why do we resent it? Its good to know that this exercise helped so many people understand and be above this feeling. There’s still a chance for us.
To wrap up, one of Jane Elliot’s quote: “We don’t need a melting pot in this country, folks. We need a salad bowl. In a salad bowl, you put in the different things. You want the vegetables – the lettuce, the cucumbers, the onions, the green peppers – to maintain their identity. You appreciate differences.”
Oh Great Spirit, keep me from ever judging a man until I have walked a mile in his moccasins.