When I watch the Class Divide documentary, I am always struck by how race plays such a huge role in our society. Racism is so entrenched in our institutions and ways of thinking that it can be hard to imagine things being any other way. Discrimination, whether intentional or not, is a reality for people of color in America.
Inequality based on race is an ongoing problem in our country. The recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland are just two examples of how this issue continues to cause tension and division. minorities continue to be disproportionately affected by poverty, violence, and lack of opportunity.
While we have made some progress in combating racism and discrimination, there is still much work to be done. Education is one way to help reduce bias and prejudice. By better understanding the experiences of people of color, we can start to break down the barriers that keep us from truly understanding and respecting one another.
Everyone, regardless of their ability to be prejudiced against others, is likely to face some form of bias or prejudice. On April 5th, 1968, a Riceville teacher named Jane Elliot conducted an experiment with her third-graders on the subject of prejudice, which was recorded in Peters’ 1985 book “A Class Divided”.
The children were first divided by eye color, with the blue-eyed children receiving preferential treatment throughout the day. The brown-eyed children were made to feel inferior, and were treated as such. This exercise was conducted in order to teach the children about the hurtfulness of racism and discrimination.
The experiment began with Mrs. Elliot telling her class that blue-eyed people were better than brown-eyed people. She explained that blue-eyed people were smarter, nicer, and more athletic than brown-eyed people. Throughout the day, she continued to reinforce these ideas; sending the brown-eyed children to do all the work while the blue-eyed children got to play. At lunch, the brown-eyed kids had to eat at a separate table; and they were not allowed to drink from the same water fountain as the blue-eyed children.
The brown-eyed children quickly began to believe what Mrs. Elliot was telling them; and they started to treat the blue-eyed kids the same way she had been treating them. They called them names, refused to play with them, and wouldn’t let them use the same bathroom. At the end of the day, Mrs. Elliot revealed that it had all been a experiment; designed to show her students what it feels like to be on the receiving end of racism and discrimination.
This powerful experiment is a great example of how easily children can learn racist attitudes; and how those attitudes can be internalized and acted upon. It’s also a reminder that we all have the ability to be racist, whether we realize it or not. We need to be constantly vigilant in examining our own attitudes and behaviors; and work to ensure that we are not contributing to a culture of discrimination.
Racism and discrimination are unfortunately still very prevalent in our society today. In some ways, things have gotten better since 1968; but there is still a long way to go. We need to continue to have open and honest conversations about race; and work together to create a more just and equitable world for everyone.
On April 4, 1968, several thousand protesters gathered in Washington DC to commemorate the legacy of Martin Luther King. The film is a wake-up call for people all around the world who are ignorant of racism and prejudice. Racism, according to Bucher (2010), “refers to discrimination based on the idea that one race is superior to another” (97). According to Bucher, “discrimination is defined as unequal treatment of individuals based on their group membership” (100).
The documentary is a great example of how racism and discrimination are still very prevalent in society.
Racism and discrimination are two very big issues in our society. They can be seen in many different ways, but the most common way is through the lens of race. Race is a social construct that has been created by humans. It is not real, but it is something that people believe in and use to justify discrimination.
Bucher (2010) defines racism as “discrimination based on the belief that one race is superior to another” (97). This means that people who are racist believe that their race is better than other races. Racism can be seen as an individual belief or it can be institutionalized. Institutionalized racism is when racist policies are put in place by organizations or governments. Racism can also be internalized, which is when people believe that they are inferior to other groups because of their race.
Discrimination is defined as the unequal treatment of people on the basis of their group membership” (100). This means that people are treated differently because of who they are. Discrimination can be based on many different things, but race is a common factor.
Discrimination can be intentional or unintentional. It can also be direct or indirect. Direct discrimination is when someone is treated differently because of their race. Indirect discrimination is when there are policies or practices in place that have a negative impact on certain groups, even if that was not the intention.
“Treatment varies depending on race, age, gender, social class, or a variety of other aspects of diversity,” says Bucher (100). ‘A Class Divided’ exposes that prejudice doesn’t just involve skin color, culture or ethnicity; it might also be based on any physical feature, social status, having a mental disability.
The film addresses the fact that we all have prejudices and that it is something that is learned. It doesn’t come naturally to hate someone for the color of their skin, or to think less of them because they are poor. We are taught these things, whether it be by our parents, friends, teachers, or the media. Even young children can be prejudice. In the film, when Mrs. Elliott showed her third grade class a brown eye/blue eye exercise, most of the kids immediately sided with their own eye color and started to discriminate against the other.
The ‘A Class Divided’ experiment leaves a lot to be desired in terms of Racism And Discrimination studies today. The problem with this study is that it was conducted over 30 years ago and a lot has changed since then. Racism And Discrimination is still a huge problem in our society, but it has changed forms. It is no longer as blatant as it was in the past.
People are more subtle about it now. They may not come out and say that they don’t like someone because of their skin color, but they may say that they don’t like someone because of their “lifestyle choices” or because they are “too loud” or “smell bad”. There are also a lot of people who are racist and discriminatory without even realizing it. They have been taught to think this way all their lives and it has become second nature to them.