The columnist in View from the Ark recalls the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis Tennessee in 1968 and the riots and violence that followed. Jane Elliott a third grade elementary school teacher embarrassed and angered, devised a very simple experiment with her students which the columnist briefly describes. Her experiment is written up in the book Blue and Brown Eyes.
the students that they would be two groups in the class. The blue eyed
students would wrap a cloth collar around the brown eyed students. They
would be treated as inferior and the blue eyed be given privileges. It
was an exercise to understand how you feel when you are the object of
discrimination. The next day it was the brown eyed students that would
be the superiors and the blue eyed the inferior ones, and given the
treatment the blacks received.
It was only done for two days
but the children quickly grasped and internalized what was to be done
and even though artificially manipulated those discriminating felt
joy and those who received the discrimination felt great anguish and
columnist is using an article that was
written on this issue of discrimination in one of the daily papers.
This kind of experiment is very dangerous admits the columnist for the
chances of being hurt seriously is not missing. And Jane Elliott also
admitted that it would be nice to have another way of bringing
about the same kind of learning.
those who participated and those who viewed it all were moved deeply.
Words, no matter how well chosen do not have the same effect as when
you bodily experience discriminating and being discriminated. The
artificiality with the experiment was not accepted well by the adults
when they were asked to participate in the exercise. After a couple
hours the exercise was discontinued. Once seeing the injustice they
don't want to participate.
Bias more than a reason
for prejudice, is often the results. Bias narrows our vision of the
world and makes it smaller, but prejudice cripples the other which
makes it much more harmful. The columnist said after reading the book Blue and Brown Eyes she
compared it with the society in which she lives.
Even the artificial exercise was considered dangerous by some, how
about the the gap between the rich and the poor, status in society,
religion, political positions, personalities, appearances and the like.
Don't we see how the bias and prejudice that we come in contact daily is
affecting many in society?
arbitrary differences on which we base our
prejudice, for the most
part, is not reasonable or has any foundation. Race, color of skin,
religion, we know where to stand. However, a little difference in
opinion and right away we ticket the person as a follower of the
North. Isn't this a sign of prejudice?
Important for us is to give heed to the words of others who make known
prejudice that this shows, and become aware of it. We have to revisit
the Golden Rule and make it a living
part of our life.