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The East Texan

Jane Elliott Clarifies Racial Barriers

Courtesy/janeelliott.com

Courtesy/janeelliott.com

Allison James, Staff Writer

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Diversity lecturer and former educator Jane Elliott visited Texas A&M University – Commerce earlier this month to speak to students.

Elliott gained recognition in the 1960s for her “Blue Eyes – Brown Eyes” exercise that she practiced on her third-grade students. In the exercise, she divided her class into two groups. The first group consisted of students with blue eyes and the second group consisted of students with brown eyes. Over the span of two days, Elliott gave special privileges to one of the groups and watched how the privileged group started to discriminate against students with a different eye color.

At the end of the activity, Elliott explained to the students that discrimination against eye color is the same as discrimination against skin color. The students realized that poor treatment caused by physical differences can make a person feel sad, and they decided they would never discriminate against a person simply because of race.

Since the experiment, Elliott has become a renowned anti-racism activist and has traveled the country lecturing people about discrimination.

On October 4th, Elliott visited A&M – Commerce in an open presentation titled “Unspoken Truths”. In her lecture, she encouraged the listeners to look past social barriers and to avoid ignorance that is common in society.

“A powerful lecture from Jane Elliott. This woman came in preaching!” Millie Saenz, an English major at the university, said.

Elliott drew quite a crowd and students that attended the event posted inspirational quotes and lessons they learned from the speech all over Facebook and Twitter feeds.

“Learning from Jane Elliott! Very wise woman. Everyone could absolutely learn from her,” Dominique Thomas, one of Elliott’s listeners, said on Facebook.

Elliott encouraged people of all races to go fight for their dreams and to destroy the stereotypes that lead to racism and discrimination.

“Jane Elliott just inspired me to keep going and to finish the journey I’m on!” Kyle Williams, another listener, said.

Although the original experiment took place nearly fifty years ago, Elliott continues to give lectures about race, discrimination, feminism, and equality on a regular basis. She tours the country giving famous lectures such as “The Anatomy of Prejudice” and “Power, Perception, and Prejudice.” She also leads workshops all over the country where anyone can attend full-day seminars such as “A Collar in My Pocket,” which gives adults the opportunity to learn similar lessons to the third-graders that Elliott taught in the 1960s.

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Jane Elliott Clarifies Racial Barriers