Blue Eyes – Brown Eyes Exercise – Jane Elliot & Racism

Sequence of images Source 

Racism, whether it is institutionalized or that which is more openly hateful and violent (as we have seen over the course of 2014, and will likely see into this New Year) is an endless bullying that impacts people of colour everyday. We’ve come very far, but there is still a long way to go. There is a significant portion of the population that is unaware or unmoved by the  real difficulty that victims of racism face. Challenging human perceptions and ideology is the only way to force insight, understanding, and caring for this struggle.

The Coach of a Marathon Runner trains his or her student so he or she can to get to a physical point where they can successfully run a marathon. In order to get to this point, their trainer pushes them beyond the point they feel they are able to go. If left unattended, many athletes would only go as far as they think they could go. A trainer knows how far a body can go when its compelled to. A trainer forces his charge them to keep going (as she sweats, breaths heavily, and is red or purple in the face from her efforts).  Somewhere in the future, when speaking to reporters or friends after tasting victory, they look back to those earlier moments where they had to ‘work hard’ and ‘be challenged’ to make it. Throughout their career and for the rest of their lives, these athletes will continue to challenge themselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  For me, its exactly the same thing: there can never be a time when those of us  passionate about weeding out racist mind sets and institutions can ‘stop’ or ‘give it a break.’ This is a matter of life or death. This is a matter of human cruelty. The coach and runner training system is exactly the approach that MUST be taken in regards to educating people about race. The coach must be those of us who have been victims to racism for all of our lives. The pupils must be humans who care about human lives.

As Jane Elliot said, “racism is not polite.” You can’t combat racism with whispers, a spoonful of sugar, or a comforting hand. Nobody has comforted me (or other victims of racism) as I have moved through a very racist society (which, gives way to internalized racism, colourism, and texturism), not for a minute. Some moments in time where people are pushed out of their comfort zone to learn, and make the world a better place, is not going to kill anybody. But, I can guarantee you racism has been known to kill (emotionally, mentally, and physically) for generations. It will continue to do so unless something is done about it. There is no time to be patient, sensitive to people’s comfort levels, or whatever hap-ass excuse they might give as to why they aren’t ‘comfortable’ or ‘ready’ for to talk about it. I myself am not comfortable with living in a racist society, but I somehow have to push myself everyday to get up and keep fighting.

Please take the time to watch Jane Elliot’s Brown Eyes-Blue Eyes Exercise. It is very insightful. This thoughtful moment, within an entire video of thoughtfulness, spoke to me the most:

You can find other executions of this important lesson here,  here and here




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