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Jane  Elliott

Jane Elliott

Teacher, Diversity Trainer, & National Mental Health Association Award for Excellence in Education Recipient

Biography

Chosen as one of Peter Jennings' ABC-TV's "Person of the Week," Jane is the adaptor of the "Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes" discrimination experiment. The sensitizing exercise, in which participants are labeled inferior or superior based on the color of their eyes, began in a third-grade classroom in all-white, all-Christian Riceville, Iowa, immediately after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It has been repeated with dramatic results with children and adults throughout the country. Those who have been through this exercise have said it is an emotionally significant and life-changing experience. This ground breaking exercise is the pinnacle of all other diversity programming in the country today. Read More >

Several television documentaries have covered her work, among them ABC's The Eye of the Storm, which won the Peabody Award; A Class Divided, which dealt with the long-term impact of the exercise and Ms. Elliott's work with adults and was broadcast nationally on PBS's Frontline series, The Eye of the Beholder, which also dealt with adults and their reactions to discrimination and was produced by Florida Public Television. Both the latter films received an Emmy Award and most recently released award winning film The Angry Eye is also available for purchase; download the order form.

The Angry Eye is a dynamic and provocative documentary, showcasing Jane Elliott's world famous Blue-Eyed/Brown-Eyed exercise in discrimination. The tables are turned on white American College students as they are forced to experience the same kind of racist treatment African Americans and other minorities have been receiving for years. In the documentary, students' reactions are intercut with Elliott's observations. The film is disturbing; both for the participants and for the viewers, who are made to confront their own prejudices.

Jane Elliott is a recipient of the National Mental Health Association Award for Excellence in Education. She has been a guest lecturer at numerous colleges and universities and has been a guest on a wide variety of television shows including The Today Show, Tonight with Johnny Carson, Donahue, and the Oprah Winfrey show. She is hailed as the leader in diversity training - a veteran presenter who has addressed groups ranging from colleges and universities, to civil service organizations, elementary schools, corporations and businesses. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

How Can You Talk to Your Kids About Racism? | GMA

There’s Only One Race. The Human Race | NBC News

The Anti-Racism Experiment That Transformed an Oprah Show Audience | OWN

Speech Topics

The Anatomy of Prejudice

A three-hour presentation during which Ms. Jane Elliott, the adaptor of the Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes Exercise in teaching about the anatomy of prejudice and the subject of the Peabody Award-winning film, The Eye of the Storm, introduces and discusses that film and explores with the audience the problems of racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, and ethnocentrism and the responsibility shared by all of us for illuminating them in and eliminating them from ourselves and our environment. Read More >

Those attending the presentation will be encouraged to discuss the issues raised as they relate to their own workplace. They will also be encouraged to discuss the materials presented on the handouts which are designed to help them to identify their own racist statements, behaviors, and attitudes. Participants will receive a list of suggested activities which, if implemented, can help them to decrease the amount of racism in their environment and a list of books which, if read, can provide added insights to the problems of the -isms with which we are all confronted. Read Less ^

Power, Perception & Prejudice

A one-hour presentation during which Ms. Elliott uses audience members and visual aids to help us to recognize, identify, and appreciate the differences on which power is assigned, and some of the ways in which we are conditioned to develop some of our perceptions.

A Collar In My Pocket

This is a one-day seminar in which participants will be exposed to an exercise in discrimination based on eye color. Blue-eyed participants will be identified as the inferior group and all the negative stereotypes ordinarily applied to people of color and women by white people and men will be applied to them. Those people having green or hazel eyes will be designated inferior or superior as the instructor sees fit. Read More >

The first phase of the exercise will include: separating the group according to eye color, collaring the Blues and detaining them in a holding room, conditioning the Browns as to what the exercise is all about and what is expected of them, bringing the Blues into the meeting room and exposing them to the discriminatory treatment, teaching them the listening skills in an atmosphere in which they will be expected to fail, introducing them to a brief American History lesson as biased as minorities have heard history throughout their educational experience in this country, giving them a culturally-biased test which Blues will not be expected to pass and won't, and continually accusing the Blues of incompetence resulting from their eye color.

During the second phase of the exercise, each participant will be asked to write a brief description of what she has done, felt, seen, or heard during the discriminatory period. After a short break-during which Blues will be allowed to leave the room unescorted and have coffee for the first time during the day, all participants will form a circle and a thorough discussion of the morning activity and its implications for all concerned will be led by the instructor. All comments will be respected, but all issues will be met and dealt with. Racist remarks and attitudes will be identified and clarified.

After a lunch break the participants will return to the circle for the third phase of the seminar which will include a second debriefing during which the instructor will introduce and show a relevant film and conduct a question/answer period about the film and its application for all of us. Participants will then be given a bibliography, a list of racist statements and their clarifications, and a list of activities that individuals can do to eliminate racism, sexism and ageism in themselves and their environments.

The final stage of the seminar will consist of participants completing an evaluation of the seminar and receiving a collar for their pocket. This is a clear acrylic key ring in the shape of an eye, the eyeball of which is a tiny green collar identical to the one that the Blues were forced to wear during the exercise. Read Less ^