Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Don't it make my brown eyes blue...

Allow me to take a a few minutes of your time today. These videos are pretty self-explanatory. The first one gets off to a slow start, but they are most definitely worth watching. If you've seen them before, I encourage you to watch them again--I find that I get something new with each viewing. Pay really close attention to the facial expressions of these children, and how aware of the world around them they seem at only 8 years old.

And the next day, with the roles reversed.

And before we explain this away by saying it was decades ago, let's not forget about this video I posted from the 21st century. This one is shorter, only three minutes.

Thoughts? Feelings? Comments? Questions?

I'd love to hear them.


  1. Anonymous12:48 AM

    First reaction? Wow. What an intense exercise, and one that should be repeated. Kids are brilliant little sponges, and what an important lesson she taught them! Sadly, I could see a teacher getting in trouble for an exercise like that one these days. But that's a different discussion.

    It's scary and important that their performance dropped when they were the "less-than" group, and that fights broke out the first day. Amazing how easily something like that can be influenced.


  2. Anonymous8:11 AM

    I've seen this before, and it's extremely powerful. A great exercise, but from what I remember, there are some questions on the ethics of doing a project like this. However, like I said, the video was great and the children seemed to really grow from the experience, and all it took was 2 school days.

  3. jgalt1:34 PM

    This is why identity politics is very dangerous. It pits one group against the other. The color of the students is irrelivent, this experiment can happen with all racial groups. This has taken many forms through out the years. I remember there were bake sales that would charge different races more or less for a cookie. Similar in concept the pitting of one group against another. The outrage is the same. Unfortunatly this is one of the darker sides of the human experiance. This stuff is like jerms, they will always be around, that is why we must be vigilant in what and how we drive our thinking. A good cleans now and then is always a good thing, and also have plenty antibacterial soap around just in case.

  4. I did something like this with Austrian kids when talking about the Civil Rights movement in the US. Funny (especially b/c Austria hasn't really "come to terms with the past" in terms of the Holocaust) how many of the kids swore they would fight back against the system, etc but still did exactly what I told them. Like the Milgram experiements.

  5. London Talks10:35 PM

    Those pesky collars!

    Watching this made me so sad, I felt very sorry for those children, then realised I felt very sorry for myself. Those children literally bowed their heads under the weight of oppression.

    She did this experiment recently here in the UK, it was televised on Channel 4 - The Event: How Racist Are You? Unlike this experiment, it was with a group of adults. British culture/racism is 'different' - white people in the group were a lot more resistant to acknowledging how the power dynamic shifts, depending on your membership of the in/out group.

    I believe British racism is more subtle, entrenched, call it what you will, but the white people in that group were unwilling to give up membership to the white club/power. Where they were members of the dominant group, they sought to reinforce their allegiance to white people in the subordinate group by deliberately 'hijacking' the various experiments. UK whites have too much invested in the system of racism to subject it to close scrutiny - they resolutely and steadfastly deny it's existence.