Withoutdoubt, each and every student is likely to be subjected to some formof prejudice or discrimination during their school life. “A classdivided: Then and Now” is a courageous experiment conducted byteacher Jane Elliot on her third-grade class students to illustratethe impact of discrimination and how it affects people’s day to daylives. Her experiment was triggered by the assassination of Dr.Martin Luther King (PBS.org, 1985). To effectively conduct herexperiment, teacher Jane divided her third-grade students into twogroups on the basis of eye color. That is, those with blue eyes andthe ones with brown eyes.
Onthe first day of the experiment, students with blue eyes were made tofeel more superior by being told that they were smarter, nicer andneater compared to the ones with brown eyes. In an effort of tryingto demonstrate how race is instigated and developed, teacher Janepraised the students with blue eyes almost the entire day. She evenallowed them to enjoy some privileges such as being at the forefrontand the first ones to be served during lunch hour as well aspermitting them to have a longer recess. On the other hand, studentswith brown eyes were made to wear collars around their necks whiletheir behavior and performance was ridiculed and criticized.Conversely, students with blue eyes were made inferior on the secondday. Therefore, the essay will seek to elaborate more on racism basedon the quotes given and justify the one that is more convincing(PBS.org, 1985).
Fromthe experiment conducted by teacher Jane on her third-grade students,I believe that the third quote about racism is more convincing. Itsays, "We define racism as an institutionalized system ofeconomic, political, social, and cultural relations that ensures thatone racial group has and maintains power and privilege over allothers in all aspects of life. Individual participation in racismoccurs when the objective outcome of behavior reinforces theserelations, regardless of the subjective intent."(Carol&Louise, 1977)This is because the society has embraced a culture where racism ispracticed across all institutions beginning from social, politicaland economic institutions. For instance, within the schoolenvironment, the teacher tried to demonstrate the existence ofdiscrimination, something that is practiced in the society. Peopleare treated differently based on color. The blue-eyed students weretreated superior on the first day compared to the brown-eyedstudents. Ordinarily, learning institutions and the present-daysocieties we are living are composed of people from diverse racial,tribal and cultural origins.
Equallyimportant, people are treated on the basis of their physicalappearance. In the experiment, making brown eyed students wearcollars around their necks is a clear reflection of people aredivided and treated based on their looks. That’s how even thesociety has trained children not to socialize with others simplybecause they have different skin color, they come from a differenttribe or because they don’t look like them. Also, racism isexperienced if people discriminate other because of their economicand social status (Carol&Louise, 1977).This is evident when the rich within the society consider themselvessuperior and hence mistreat the less privileged. They are perceivedto belong to a different class hence entitled to rights andprivileges which the less privileged people who in this case areconsidered inferior do not enjoy. Also, gender racism is experiencedwhen, for instance, the male discriminate their female counterpartsin politics because of the stereotype that politics isn’t meant forthem.
Racismand prejudice are not the same. This is because race is a system ofdomination and a representation of people’s ideologies. In racism,the inferior group is normally discriminated and denied equal rightsand privileges enjoyed by the superior groups. On the other hand,prejudice involves more of a stereotypical thinking which people mayor may not have evidence. Racism can exist without prejudice (Harrell& Sloan-Pena, 2006).
CarolBrunson Phillips and Louise Derman-Sparks in Teaching/LearningAnti-Racism: A Developmental Approach, (Teachers College Press, 1997)
Harrell,S. P., & Sloan-Pena, G. (2006). Racism anddiscrimination.Encyclopediaof Multicultural Psychology,396.
PBS.org(1985, March 26) ACLASS DIVIDED. (VideoFile). Retrieved fromhttp://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/class-divided/