ESSENTIAL BLUE EYED
(50 min. Trainer's Version only. The debriefing is not included in
I want every white person in this room, who would be happy to be treated
as this society in general treats our citizens, our black citizens. If
you as a white person would be happy to receive the same treatment that
our black citizens do in this society - please stand! - You didn't understand
the directions. If you white folks want to be treated the way blacks are
in this society - stand! - Nobody is standing here. That says very plainly
that you know what's happening. You know you don't want it for you. I
want to know why you are so willing to accept it or to allow it to happen
What does that say?
What is your name? Can you read that?
Well, I can't. Cross it out and write it so I can read it.
What does that say?
Louis A. Wright.
Cross it out and write it so I can read it.
No, don't pat me number one, and number two you either follow the rules
or you leave. Now, put your name on there so I can read it.
That's -, they were asking for my signature and that's it.
Write your name on here so I can read it.
This man is out of here.
Go to meeting room C and stay there till we come for you.
Sign in here according to your eye-color.
I am not brown eyed.
I'm going to give you a piece of advice. Whether or not you like what
is happening here, you either follow the rules or you're out of here.
You have a choice.
Now, get rid of the gum.
Now! There's a waste basket right back there, put it in there. Well, go
to the meeting room, seat and stay there until I come for you.
So you do print. -
Move your legs. I don't have to straddle your leg.
I'm going to warn you - you may be big and you may be tall, but you'll
do exactly what I tell you to do today, do you understand that?
Well, I don't have a problem with that at all.
Good for you.
IN THE WORKSHOP
The purpose of this exercise is to give these nice blue eyed white folks
the opportunity to find out how it feels to be something other than white
in the United States of America. And these people today are going to learn
more than they want to know. The purpose of this exercise is to help these
people walk in the mocassins of a person of color for a day. What I'm
going to do is assign to these people on the basis of their eye color
alone all the negative traits that we have assigned to females, to people
of color, to gays and lesbians, to people who have disabilities of any
kind, to those who are obviously physically different. We are going to
lower our expectations for these people and we are going to force them
to live down to our expectations of them.
How have they been prepared to come in here?
Not at all. We just sat them into a room in which there are three chairs
for seventeen people -
It's hot in there.
It's hot in there. Is it hot in there? Well, then it's probably smelly,
isn't it, because blue eyed people sweat a lot and you know they don'
smell good, so I wouldn't want to be in that room after they have been
in there. And we don't tell them anything, we just send them to the holding
A new reality is going to be created for these folks this morning. Now,
we are going to treat these people negatively on the basis of the color
of their eyes. And the reason I use eyes is, because eye color is caused
by the same chemical that skin color is caused by. If you have lots and
lots of Melanin in your hair, your skin, your eyes, you have very dark
hair, dark skin and dark eyes. If you have only a little Melanin in your
hair, your skin and your eyes, you have light skin, light hair and light
eyes. Now, having light skin, the first people on this earth, the first
human beings on this earth, evolved near the equator in subherent Africa
in about 280.000 years ago.They needed lots and lots of Melanin to protect
theirselves from the raise of the sun. That's what Melanin does for you.
As people migrated farther and farther north, their bodies were exposed
to less and less sunlight, so their bodies produced less and less Melanin.
So people in northern climates have much less Melanin in their skin, their
hair and their eyes than people in southern climates did evolve at that
time. Now folks, as people's hair and skin got lighter, it didn't have
a bad effect on their brains, but as their eyes got lighter, it allowed
more and more light to enter their eyes, pierce their brains and damage
their brains. And that's why people blue eyed people aren't as smart as
brown eyed people. Makes sense to you? Why are you laughing? It's ridicolous,
isn't it? People, it is no more ridicolous to make that statement about
eye color than it is to make the statements that we traditionally have
made about the skin color. If it makes good sense to judge people by the
amount of Melanin in their skin, then it makes equally good sense, more
good sense, to judge them by the amount of Melanin in their eyes. And
that's what we are going to do this morning. All we are going to do is
spend about two and a half hours treating these people negatively on the
basis of a physical characteristic over which they have no control. Now,
they aren't going to like this. If you do your job right, they aren't
going to like this. Is that going to make me happy?
Yes, yes. Because I want them to be uncomfortable and I want you to help
them to be uncomfortable.
Keep the noise down! Keep the noise down! I'm not playing. Everybody keep
the noise down. I'm not playing. Who ever messed with the door - leave
it alone. Who was this?
Keep the noise down!
In the workshop
Blue eyed people aren't as smart as brown eyed people. I can prove that
to you by giving you and them the Dove Counter Balance Intelligence Test.
Now, this is an intelligence test, that is developed by a black male a
number of years ago and the purpose of this test is to give white folks
the opportunity to find out how it feels to take a test about which you
know virtually nothing and have your IQ based on your ability to pass
the test, about which you know nothing, which you have learned nothing
about. We do this with people of color and with immigrants in this country
all the time. We base (their,) - our judgement of their IQs on their ability
to respond to items about which they haven't learned. The blue eyed people
aren't going to know many of these answers, because they aren't very intelligent,
because they haven't had to learn about people who are different from
themselves, because they have only had to learn about white culture.
You people, you brown eyed people, are going to know at least half of
these answers, because you are smart, you are caring and you are curious
about those who are different from yourselves and you've learned a whole
lot about those who are different from yourselves. And I'm going to give
you the even number of responses.
The rules for the day are going to be that you will not look at these
people unless you either frown or smirk at them. It's alright to laugh
at them but do not laugh with them. How many of you have friends in the
blue eyed group? - Let me put it this way: How many of you used to have
friends in the blue eyed group? Now, some of these people are going to
leave here very very angry. Make no mistake about this. That is their
choice. When they leave here and they say they're angry, you need to be
prepared to say to them "Wait a minute, you had it for two and a
half hours, your home wasn't threatened, your family wasn't threatened,
you job wasn't threatened, your income wasn't threatened, your future
wasn't threatened. And you had it for two and a half hours and you knew
it was temporary. You knew it was going to be over at least by six o clock
this afternoon. Why are you so angry? And if you are so angry after two
and a half hours, can you apply that the way you feel about that anger
what it must be like to live with this for a lifetime.
Interview Jane Elliott at home
I got the idea of the blue eyed-brown eyed exercise from reading about
what the nazis did during what has become to be called the holocaust.
Hitler was going to found a nation of people, of arian people, who were
going to be blue eyed and blonde haired and fair skinned and they were
going to rule the world. And one of the ways they decided who went into
the gas chamber during the holocaust was eye color. I decided on the day
after Martin Luther King was killed that I would do what Hitler did. I
knew it worked for him, I thought it might work for me. I decided that
I will pick out a group of people on the basis of a physical characteristic
over which they had no control and I decided that it would be eye color.
In the workshop
Now we are going to call these females girl, honey, sweet, baby, chick
darling - what are we going -, what do we call males?
Boy. Boy, and you don't say 'boy', you say 'boy'. When it's properly said
it's a two syllable word. Boy!
And we use 'boy' to keep black males in their place on a daily basis.
All we have to do to lower someone to the age of five, to twelve, is call
him a boy. And we do it to accomplish black males over the age of seventy.
And we get away with it. Now, for two and a half hours we are going to
make these people look inferior and feel inferior. How many of you think
these white folks can take this?
Now, people, think about what you've just admitted! You've just admitted
that you think that adult, sophisticated, educated white males in positions
of some power - in a couple of cases I think real power - can't stand
for two and a half hours what you expect the child of color to live with
from the moment he or she is born. Do you really believe that? Do you
really believe that these white people can't stand two and a half hours
of being treated verbally the way they treat other people for a lifetime?
Because if you do, you've just admitted something extremely interesting.
You have just said that people of color are stronger than white folks.
That we have created a situation in this country in which we have built
tremendous strength into people of colour and in which we have not built
the same tremendous character strength into white folks, particularly
white males. Does that bother you at all?
It's called survival.
It's called survival, absolutely, it's a survival skill. Keep in better
mind that these people are in their child ego state and that's where they
are going to stay, because people are most -, are easiest to control when
they are in their child ego state. So, these people are being treated
like children and they are going to act like children and it's what we
do with females in this country every day. We treat them like children
and when they act like children, we say "See, you're acting like
that, because you are female".
Now, people, if you are tempted to look at some of these people and wink
at them to let them know - without me catching you - that you really don't
mean any of this, I'll change your eye colors so fast as it'll make your
heads turn. So just let me catch you looking at your tall white friend,
just let me catch you doing that, let me see your eyes. Oh, you'll join
quick, right away. Do you want to be with them? O.K., browny, you are
going to be a bluey. It will not make you comfortable.
Now, people, all I'm asking you to do is - act white. That's all I'm asking
you - just act white. You white people know how to act white, you can
do it all your lives.
And people of color know how to act white, the way to get ahead in this
society, if you are a person of color, is to act as white as you possibly
can. Now, am I exaggerating here? Is that the message that this society
Assimilate really means - act white. Assimilate means - be as similar
to the power group as you possibly can be, which means act white. And
you can turn intelligent, bright, commited conscientious, ambitious people
into people who act lazy and slubberly and stupid and slow and unmotivated
and you can do it in fifteen to twenty minutes and that's what you're
going to do this morning.
Houses in Osage
Interview Jane Elliott terrace
Martin Luther King was killed in April 4th, 1968, I was teaching third
grade in an all white all christian community. I needed to explain the
death of Martin Luther King to my students. I didn't know how to do it
except by allowing them to walk in the shoes of a child of color for a
day. The first time I did it no-one knew until my students wrote essays
about it and those were published in the paper. And then the Johnny Carson
Show called and asked me if I could come and do the Johnny Carson Show.
Then people in the community found out about it. Then all kinds of unpleasant
things happened. I got vicious calls in the night, we got probably between
500 and 600 letters, a third of them so ugly and so obscene that I couldn't
share them with my third graders. In that fall when people came to register
their children for school, their offspring for school, 20% of those who
had children coming in the third grade said to the principle "Don't
put my kid in Elliotts classroom".
Every year after that the same thing happened, only sometimes parents
would call in and say "I don't want my kid in that niggerlover's
classroom". And the principle never had to say "Which niggerlover
do you mean?", because we all knew there was only one. My children
were beaten and spit on, my own offspring, we have four children, they
were abused by their peers, by their teachers, by the parents of their
My parents lost their business, my father died totally isolated three
years ago in the community in which his great grandfather was one of the
first settlers - isolated because he had raised the town's niggerlover.
I've learnt a whole lot about racism.
I wouldn't trust that bluey, but you can if you want to.
Now, I want those collars on the outside of your coats' collar or dress
collar or blouse collar or shirt collar or whatever it is you're wearing
and I want the collars taken good care of at all times and I want the
pin under your chin. Put the tag of her dress in, would you do that, she
got half dressed this morning.
Now, people, before - you can arrange that properly?
I guess not.
I guess not. Fix it!
Now, do you have any physical problems that will be made worse by sitting
on the floor for an extended period of time?
Don't give me "I doubt". Yes or no?
No back problems, no hip problems, no leg problems, no heart problems,
no high blood pressure, nothing like that. - How about you?
How about you? - You?
No, but I have to know, because if something happens during this, you're
able to file a lawsue so I want to know going into whether or not you
have any problems. I don't want to make them worse, because I don't want
to have to take a lawsue out of this. Do you understand that?
No? You don't understand that, while your low IQ is another one of the
problems I'll have to deal with today.- Now, do you have any physical
problems that will be made worse by sitting on the floor for an extended
period of time? Yes or no?
I say no.
If he is going to 'say no', does that mean he doesn't have or does that
mean he is going to say no now and later he is going to accuse me of having
made him -
You can trust it.
Can I trust this boy?
No. Is he playing games? - Yes - Am I going to put up with it? - No. -
Do you have any physical problems that will be made worse by sitting on
the floor for an extended period of time? Yes or no? Do you or do you
You don't care.
Honey, honey, if you want caring, go to your mother. Do I look like your
mother to you?
Then go to some other nurturing female in your environment.
That is not what I am about. Do you have any physical problems that will
be made worse by sitting on the floor for an extended period of time?
What is difficult about answering that?
There is no sense in it, if you don't care.
The purpose of this is to find out whether you are going to be in worse
shape physically after this is over as a result of sitting on the floor.
I don't want you to be. I care, because I don't want you sueing me, so
there I care.
That's what I wanted to know.
Now, I care. Do you or do you not?
No, I'm fine, thank you.
Oooh, friend, I don't care about you, you need to understand that I don't
care about you, I care about me.
Then you need to realize maybe I lied to you.
I care about me. If you lie to me, we have it on tape that you said 'no'.
So now, if you try to sue us - forget it! I care about the repercussions
for my sake, not for yours. Understand that.
But I care about me.
Good, good. Then don't make me spend my precious time messing with you
Once again - do we care?
Do some people like being treated like babies? - Yes.
Do we have to take care of them?
Yes. Do we have to see to it that they are sitting in the right place?
Do we have to see to it that they are facing the right direction?
Yes. Why do we have to do that?
Because most of them are stupid.
Because most of them are stupid. And where do they spend most of their
time, in what ego state?
In the child ego state.
In their child ego state.
Excuse me Mam. I have a question.
I was just talking and you interrupted me and started to talk? You are
a real poor case, aren't you?
Sorry, but I have a question.
What's your question?
I was going to say: If I could have my paper and pencil back, so that
I could take it and get to my adult state.
Now I'm going to give you a piece of advice. Everytime when I look at
you sitting there with that sick smirk on your face if you can't look
up without smiling.
The next time I see that smile, I'm going to come down on you real real
hard. O.k., you are going to feel like a cowpad on a hot rock. So if I
were you, if you can't hide your smile, drop your heads where I don't
have to see it. Just look down when I'm going towards you, so I don't
have to see that smile. Does that makes sense to you?
Yes, it does.
If you have a nervous twitch, you can't help smiling, put your face down
so that I can't see you doing it, because I'll take exception to it and
that's not good for you. You understand that?
Yes. I do .
Yes. If you are going to get through this workshop, you are going to live
down to my expectations of you. As if you don't live down to my expectations
of you, we are going to call you an upperdy bluey and we are going to
ride your tail until you do live down to our ex-pectations of you. How
do I know how to do this?
By your observation
Of what happens in society.
That's right. We in the power position in society know how to keep people
in their place by lowering our expectations for them, by forcing them
to live down to our expectations of them.
Now, did I teach him something?
Yes, you did.
Yes. Was it a valuable lesson?
Yes, very much.
No, it wasn't! No, that is not a valuable lesson to teach people to submit
to tyranny. Get real, that is not a valuable lesson. That is a dastardly
lesson and you need to realize it. You need to realize that what I just
did to him today, Newt Gingrich is doing to you all the time by saying
people who think like him are normal and other people are not. And you
are going along with that.
You are submitting to tyranny in order to be called normal, for god's
sake. You'd be better off to be called subnormal. I didn't just teach
him a valuable lesson, I taught him to go along to get along, I taught
him to submit to oppression.
Now I am going to teach you the listening skills. Since you have already
indicated that you have difficulty in remembering things I am going to
ask you to write these things down. Take out a piece of paper and a pencil
and write exactly as I say it. Number one: Good listeners keep their eyes
- what are you doing? - Good listeners keep their eyes on the person who
is speaking. Write it quickly before you forget it. Good listeners keep
their eyes on the person who is speaking. Good listeners keep their eyes
on the person who is speaking. What are you doing? You haven't written?
Because my hands are still quiet from the first skill.
Didn't I say, write it down?
Write it down!
And violate the first skill?
Write it down! I said, write it down. Do it! Do it now!
What are you waiting for?
Now I'm going to warn you about something: In case you don't recognize
it, I'm messing with your mind. Now, I told him to conform and then I
said it was stupid to conform, so then you decided that you wouldn't conform.
So now you're in trouble! Now, what did you better do?
You never know what to do.
That's right, that's right. Just the minute you think you've caught onto
the rule, what did I do?
You changed the rules.
I changed the rules. People, am I good? Am I good, do I know how to do
this? - I'm a white female. I learned how to do this at my mother's knees.
I know exactly how to do this. I can turn you every which way but loose
and there is no way you can win. And we can do this outside this room
and our society does this on a daily basis.
Change places with him.
Now, I want you to talk to him -, oh, I think you're in the wrong place.
You change places with him. Now, the reason I put you back here is - when
you're beside her, her behaviours rub off on you. And your behaviours
rub off on her. And you support and reinforce one another. And I don't
want that to happen. So, in order to keep that from happening and keep
you from getting into trouble, I put you back here where that won't happen
Did I do this to be mean to you?
Probably in your mind not. You were helping me.
No, no, I am helping you, and how should you feel about that?
I, in fact I think I should be grateful.
And are you?
Why not? Because you are ingrate, because you are getting this support?
You are willing to take the support even if it means getting you in trouble.
This man likes to suffer?
He doesn't know any better.
You like to suffer.
He is a martyr.
Does martyrdom appeal to you?
No. is there any way you can win here?
Not under the present rules, no.
Have you won yet?
Am I going to let you win?
You don't want me to win.
Am I going to let you win? -
Where is the only place you can win in this situation?
Can you win in your mind?
So, within me I can
Within you, you can win. But will I know that you have won within you.
No. I won't. And neither will they, because we will use everything you
do against you.
I won't know that you have reinforced yourself inside yourself. But will
you know that?
Yes. Is that valuable to you?
Absolutely. Is that going to be hard for you to keep on doing that while
I keep on badgering you?
Yes. Are you going to have to keep working and working and working to
make that happen?
Is that fair? Shit, no, that isn't fair? Did you think this was going
to be a fair day?
No. Do you think what goes on outside here is fair?
Absolutely not. Do you spend a whole lot of time outside here, holding
it in and winning inside yourself even though society doesn't want you
Yes. And do you?
Who, do you think, spent more time in that endeavour? You or that man
Probably that man.
Probably that man right there.
What I'm doing to that man and to you happens to his children, unless
I'm mistaking in the school on a daily basis. Am I mistaking?
- all the time.
All the time. And when you watch that happen to your children and know
you'd better maintain a low profile if you want them to get through the
schoolyear. What does that do to you?
It tears me up.
Tears you up. What does it make your sons think of you?
It's a difficult situation.
A difficult situation. And who makes that situation difficult?
You know who makes it difficult.
I know who makes it difficult, you are damn right, I know who makes it
I make it difficult and people who look like me make it difficult. And
do we spend a whole lot of time feeling badly about it?
And we talk a lot about it.
Interview in the car
This town calls itself the city of beautiful maples and these are hard
maple trees lining both sides of most of the streets in town. In two weeks
they will all be in gorgeous yellow and orange and red and gold colors.
And people will come from miles around to see the color in our trees.
And this city is just so proud of that wonderful wonderful color in these
trees, but they do not want people of color to come and reside in this
community. We love color in our trees, we do not want it in our skin.
And it breaks my heart, because it is so. This is a beautiful little community
and they are very proud of their feelings for one another, the size of
their churches, their churches are full every saturday, every sunday and
every sunday night, it's wonderful, it's a wonderful place to raise children
- as long as you don't want to raise children of color here - it's heartbreaking.
The first time I did this exercise in 1968, my parents sold 42 lunches
in their little hotel lunch room in Riceville. The day after it was shown
they sold 2. They never sold more than that again. I was the end of their
business. Their business was killed by what I do. Somebody has said "Good
deeds won't go long unpunished" and I found out how very true that
is. I learned a lot about racism in a short time. And I wouldn't have
-, it wouldn't have bothered me as much, if I had been the only one they
exposed to that kind of behaviour, but nobody confronted me in all those
years. To this day, noone other than my peers one time, have confronted
me, but they got at me through my children and my parents, and I find
that very very difficult to forgive.
The Jews have a saying, they said "You have the right to forgive
others for what they do to you, you do not have the right to forgive them
for what they do to others". I can't forgive them for what they did
to my children. My children have to do that.
INTERVIEW ON THE TERRACE
See, in retrospect I know that I could have made life easier for my parents,
could have made life easier for my father, could have made life easier
for my husband and for my children. It took me a long time to get over
the feeling that I had done something wrong. I wish it hadn't been that
way for my parents, but I could not change people in Riceville and their
attitudes towards them. I wish it hadn't been that way for my offspring,
but I couldn't change what people did. I could have stopped doing what
I did, but there would have been a whole lot of learning that didn't take
place and there would have been some good things that didn't happen to
my offspring, and if I had stopped, it would have been saying to my kids
"When things get unpleasant just stop what you are doing, just go
along to get along". That wasn't the message I wanted to send to
What's bigtime stress to you - if you don't mind telling us?
Every morning when I get up and go in my bathroom and look in my mirror,
that's where my stress begins. Because I go to a school where I am one
of two black teachers.
Out of how many teachers?
Two black teachers in a school with sixty teachers and you're one of the
One of the two. That's stress.
And are you treated differently on the basis of how you look in the mirror
when you get up in the morning?
Sure I am.
And you know it is happening.
Sure I do.
And you recognize it.
Yes, I do.
And you can identify it.
Sure I can.
And if you describe it to your white peers, what do they say?
"Oh, Linda, please, that's not happening. It couldn't be happening."
What about you, is this bigtime stress for you as far as you're concerned?
Do you get stress like this?
Do you have to perform in spite of it?
Yes, I do.
You have to do your job whether the stress is there or not.
If you give into the stress, what do you have to give up?
This looks a lot of stress to you?
Do you think these people are stressed a lot?
Well, they're stressed, but not what we go through..
Now in your heart of hearts all you people know that I'm lying to you
about blue eyes. There is nothing wrong with having eyes of a color other
than brown. And you know I'm wrong. Does that give you any satisfaction
whatsoever - to know that I'm wrong? Is that making it all easier for
you to go through this? No. You can transcend your eye color. Can you
transcend my behaviours on the basis of your eye color? - No. Can you
transcend my eyeism? - No. Can you change what is happening in here to
you, because you know that I'm wrong? - No. All you can do is sit there
and take it.
Tell me what stress is.
Stress is -
Now, wait a minute. He volunteered to tell me what stress is. I do not
ask people of color to bleed all over the floor for white folks. I don't
do that. You want to tell us? Go ahead and tell us.
Stress is knowing that when you send your son or daughter to school, that
they have to start learning how to be the best and no matter what they
say or what they do it's never good enough, 'cause "I'm always going
to find something wrong with you and to the point where I'm going to make
you so frustrated that you get into a situation where you become unstable
and you can't be taught. So now you have to go over here, now we have
to test you, we are going to tell you what is wrong with your child. We
are going to make him into a statistic, we are going to keep him in the
back row continuously". And you have to, day in and day out, talking
to him, it is nothing wrong with you, you can do it, you can do it, you
can do it. And he continues to come home, hurt, sometimes in fights, and
you have to continue to keep doing it over and over and over. And the
sad thing about that is that we waste so much time in trying to keep the
selfesteem up that we loose the time when we could be learning. And they
know that. Now, that's what stress is.
INTERVIEW WITH JANE ELLIOT
You are going to interview some students tomorrow, some former students
of mine, who were in my classroom the third year that I did this exercise,
they were in the film called the"Eye of the Storm" and we took
still photographs of those children each day of that exercise - one when
they were on the top and one when they were on the bottom - and I have
some of those here. The interesting part about these pictures is, you
can take a child who is a perfectly happy normal human being on one day
and by putting a collar on him and telling him he is inferior, you can
turn him into a frightenend, vulnerable, intimidated, suspicious child
who can not succeed on the day he is in the wrong place. This is Sandy
on the day she was on the bottom. And this is Sandy on the day she was
on the top. Sandy is the one who said, when we did our reunion five years
after they graduated from highschool - I asked Sandy whether, having had
this exercise when she was in third grade, had changed her life at all.
She is the one who said "Yeah, now when I hear one of those bigoted
remarks, I wish I had one of those collars in my pocket and I could take
it out and I could put it around that person's neck and I could say: Now,
you wear that for two weeks and see how you'd like to live that way for
Rex is the one who said "I have that collar in my pocket for the
rest of my life, I can't get that collar out of my pocket".
This is just one day in these children's life - and look at the difference.
Why does she has to live this way for -, if she expected to live this
way for a lifetime. You would soon begin to doubt her intelligence and
so would she.
I don't think I had a picture of Milton in there, did I, but this is
Miltons - every day of the exercise, each day of the exercise, the children
had to draw themselves as they felt that day. But this was all in yellow
and there is an angel on his head on the day he is on the top. On the
day he is on the bottom, this is all in black and there are flames, red
flames up in here, and there is a little red devil on top of his head.
But if you feel like this when you go to school in the morning every day
or if you feel like this every morning when you go to school are you going
to do a better job than when you feel like this.
And how dares society make force people to live this way.
"Eye of the Storm"
It might be interesting to judge people today by the color of their eyes.
You want to try this? Sounds like fun. Since I'm the teacher and I have
blue eyes, I think maybe the blue eyed people should be on top the first
day. I mean the blue eyed people are the better people in this room.
Oh yes, they are, and blue eyed people are smarter than brown eyed people.
- They are cleaner than brown eyed people. And if you don't believe it
- look at Brian. You brown eyed people do not get to use the drinking
fountain you have to use the paper cups. You brown eyed people are not
to play with the blue eyed people on the play ground, because you are
not as good as blue eyed people. The brown eyed people in this room today
are going to wear collars so that we can tell from a distance what color
your eyes are.
When we were down on the bottom it seemed like everything bad was happening
to us. Mrs. Elliott was taking our best friends away from us.
What happend at recess. Were two of you boys fighting?
Russell called me names and I hit him- hit him in the guts.
What names did he call you?
What's wrong being called browneyed?
It means that we are stupid and that we are not that.
Oh that sure is -, it's like other people call black people niggers.
That's the reason? You hit him, John. Did it help? Did it stop him?
INTERVIEW WITH JANE ELLIOT
The first reaction I get from teachers, who see this film or from hearing,
- hear me discuss what I do say to me "How can you do that to these
little children? How can put those little children through that exercise
for a day?" And they seem unable to relate the sympathy that they're
feeling for these little white children for a day to what happens to children
of color in this society for a lifetime or to the fact that they are doing
this to children based on skin color every day. And I'm only doing this
as an exercise that every child knows is an exercise and every child knows
is going to end at the end of the day.
"Eye of the Storm"
Let's take these collars off - what would you like to do with them?
Throw them away.
Go ahead, go ahead.
Interview Jane Elliott
This older woman in the middle of this group stood up and said "Mrs.
Elliott, I came here to tell you how much I hate you". I said "O.k.,
go ahead, you know, this isn't a new experience." She said "I
am jewish, I was born and raised in Germany", she said ""We
went to a jewish school. Every morning when our headmaster came in we
would bow and say 'Good morning, Herr Headmaster'." She said "One
morning he came in with two SS-troupers. and one of the SS-troupers said
to us "In the future you decadent Jews will no longer bow and say
'Good morning, Herr Headmaster', you will salute and say 'Heil Hitler'."
She said "I watched those of us who valued their life more than
their faith, salute and say 'Heil Hitler'." She said "Those
who valued their faith more than life itself continued to bow and say
'Good morning, Herr Headmaster'." She said "They disappeared
and we never saw them again, but we know what happened to them".
She said "Your students are very fortunate. They will never allow
to happen in their society what we allowed to happen in ours. They'll
see it coming and put a stop to it." Then she said something that
frightens me to this day. She said "The atmosphere that you created
for your students in your classroom with your blue eyed brown eyed exercise
reminded me of the atmosphere and the environment that the nazis created
for the Jews in Germany."
Now, people of colour, particularly blacks, who see the film "The
Eye of the Storm" which was made in my classroom the third year I
did the exercise, say to me when it's over "That's the way I live
every day of my life." And that in what we call "the land of
the free and the home of the brave". We have created an enviroment
in this country for 11 to 12% of our population in which they feel the
way the Jews felt in nazi Germany.
White people say to me "I don't see it that way" - of course
they don't see it that way, they don't live it that way. We do not live
the same reality in this country. White people do not live as people of
In the workshop
Now I need to know - how did you feel about what you went through this
morning. The words that you've written came out of your feelings, right?
Nobody elses. O.k., read your three words.
Confused, sad and some humour.
Sad - any of you people sad this morning? You look sad, what were you
I was sad, because I had to stay on the carpet, I didn't get any coffee,
I didn't get any donuts.
Valley girl? - like "wow, man". And I'll tell you something
I'm going to give you a really valuable piece of advice. Get over cute!
Now, I'm absolutely serious about this. Get over cute, because you'll
be cute until you are about 45. And then at 45, you won't be cute any
more, you'll just be an old braud. There'll be whole bunch of 18 to 40
year olds there who are cuter than you are. And at that point, you'll
say "I want that promotion". And somebody will say to you "Well,
let's see, I don't think of you as qualified, I just think of you as cute".
And then you're going to howl "sexism". Females, get over cute!
Get competent! Get trained! Get capable! Get over cute! And those of you
who are called Patty and Debby and Susy - get over that, because we use
those names to infantilize females. We keep females in their little girl
state by the names we use for them. Get over it! If you want to be taken
seriously, get serious! Get over it!
Why didn't you defend her?
It's like if you are picking on her, you are not picking on me. That's
all by the rules I kind of saw it's like I'm just going to sit back and
And let her do it to them. It's what makes racism work, people! It's what
work, people. It's what makes sexism work, it's what makes agism work.
To sit back and do nothing is to cooperate with the oppressor. As long
as you folks did nothing, I was free to do whatever I chose to.
I think the thing that made me most scared was when we talked about the
-, just doing this for a day and how it really is a lifetime thing for
so many folks.
Why did that scare you?
It scared me -, I really got in touch with the incredible injustice, that
I'm a part of. It really scared me.
I guess part of the biggest thing is that it's really hard for me to believe
that one person can make a difference.
Have I made a difference in you?
How many people do you think I am?
At the end of the second world war when they cleaned out the concentration
camps in Germany, a lutheran minister said "When they came for the
Jews, I wasn't jewish, so I did nothing. When they came for the homosexuals,
I wasn't homosexual, so I did nothing. When they came for the gypsies,
I wasn't a gypsy, so I did nothing. When they came for me, there was no
one left to do anything." -
Now, think about it. Think about that!