Thursday, June 27, 2013

40 Year Old Racism/Discrimination Experiment Released (

April 5, 1968, an Ohio elementary school teacher, Jane Elliot, conducted a two day “brown eyes, blue eyes” experiment with her third grade classroom after hearing them make racist remarks about the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In the experiment, Ms. Elliot separated the blue eyed children from the brown eyed children and made them discriminate against each other to teach them a lesson. The experiment was recorded and made into a documentary that was aired on PBS in 1970.

On day one of the experiment, she told the class that blue eyed people were smarter and better than brown eyed people. She told them that the blue eyed students could get second helpings of the school lunch, but the brown eyed students couldn’t. She made the brown eyed students wear collars around their necks to readily identify that they were “brown eyed”. The brown eyed children were not allowed to play with the blue eyed children during recess.

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Towards the end of day one, the brown eyed students expressed that they didn’t feel good about themselves. One student said, “It seems when we were down on the bottom, everything bad was happening to us.” Another student said, “The way they treated you made you feel like you didn’t want to try and do anything.”

Two students even got into a physical fight because a blue eyed student called a brown eyed student “brown eyes”. This was interesting because the student who was called “brown eyes” had brown eyes. This is a prime example that discrimination can cause someone to dislike them self. The blue eyed students had never teased their brown eyed classmates before.

On day two, Ms. Elliot reversed the experiment.

Ms. Elliot had given the students an assignment to complete on day one and day two. Both the brown and blue eyed students completed the assignment faster when they felt superior. When they felt inferior, it took both groups longer to complete it.

On the third day, Miss Elliot explained to her classroom why she did the experiment. The point was to show the children that it doesn’t feel good when you’re discriminated against, so don’t do it to others.

Watch a part of the documentary below:


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