Jane Elliott: 35 Years of Rage


I last wrote about

Jane Elliott
in March of
2002, but she`s still going strong.

Jane Elliott is the
ex-schoolteacher who, in 1968, tried the experiment of
dividing her all-white

third-grade
class into blue-eyed and brown-eyed
children, and subjected the blue-eyed kids to
discrimination, so that they could learn about racism.

She now travels around the
world giving seminars in which she does the same thing
to adults who are sent for

diversity education
by their employers.

When a reader recently
wrote in and asked what she was up to, I checked and
found that she`d had a

massive PBS special,
your tax dollars at work, and
that you can actually watch the show online, (media
page
,

transcript
) and have the pleasure of watching her
verbally abusing “white folks.”

If you want to know what
she thinks of white people, American society, and the
progress in race relations that has taken place in the
last 35 years, you can read the web exclusive interview
she gave PBS on December 19, 2002.

When asked why she
continues with her crusade in spite of all the things
that have changed since 1968, she has a laundry list of
grievances, most of which are false:



An Unfinished Crusade – An Interview With Jane Elliot

Because we are still conditioning people in this
country and, indeed, all over the globe to the myth of
white superiority. We are constantly being told that we

don`t have racism
in this country anymore, but most
of the people who are saying that are white. White
people think it isn`t happening because it isn`t
happening to them.

Invariably, when I do a presentation anywhere in this
country, the issue of affirmative action comes up.
People say that

white males
are the ones who are being

discriminated against
in this country today. So I
say, "Fine. OK. Will every white person in this room who
would like to spend the rest of his or her life being
treated, discussed, and looked upon as we treat,
discuss, and look upon people of color, generally
speaking, in this society, please stand?"

And I watch. And wait. And the only sounds in the
room are those made by people of color as they turn in
their seats to see how many white folks are standing.
Not one white person stands. And I just let them sit
there. Then I say, "Do you know what you just admitted?
You just admitted that you know that it`s happening, you
know that it`s ugly, and you know that you don`t want it
for you. So why are you so willing to accept it for
others? The ultimate obscenity is that you deny that
it`s happening."

I think white people
aren`t aware that racism isn`t just wearing white hoods
and

burning crosses.
It`s also fixing the system so that
black votes don`t get counted. [When
black votes were


less likely
to be
counted in Florida 2000, it was because of a higher rate
of voter errors in black precincts.]
It`s
refusing to open the polling places in precincts where
most of the eligible voters are people of color. It`s
outlawing

affirmative action
at the state level even though it
has proven successful.
[Successful for whom?]

It`s building more
prisons than we build schools and guaranteeing that they
will be filled by targeting young men of color with
things like the

"three strikes"
legislation in California, and the
DWB — "driving while black."
[While there may be
something to the idea that police are more suspicious of
a young black driver, Heather Macdonald has


shown
that black motorists are stopped more or less
in proportion to their tendency to speed.]
These
are problems encountered by young black men all over
this country. It`s the fact that there are more children
attending segregated schools
[None of which are

segregated by law
; all this means is that children
are going to school with their neighbors.]
in the
U.S. today than there were previous to Brown vs.
Board of Education
.

It`s white flight
[Caused by a
completely legitimate
fear of


crime
.]
and red-lining by financial
institutions. It`s television programming that portrays
people of color as villains and white people as their
victims. [The only TV
programming that consistently portrays black crime and
white victims is the


local news.
In Hollywoodland, the people who are


demonized
are

white men wearing suits and ties
, usually played by


John Vernon.
]
It`s ballot-security systems,
which are used to intimidate minority voters
[This

claim
, based on the theory that minorities are less
likely have driver`s licenses, ignores the fact that
minorities are more likely to commit


vote fraud,
partly because they`re


Democrats.
]
and so result in the very
activities which they are supposedly designed to
prevent.

She`s decrying as racist things that are not racist,
and refusing to recognize that that some of these things
are response to genuine problems in the black community.

She`s convinced that IQ tests are “culturally biased”
(“we give culturally biased IQ tests in the
classrooms every day all over this country, and children
of color are routinely expected to pass them.”)
and
uses a test called the

Dove Counterbalance Intelligence Test
to make white
people feel ignorant by asking them for obscure general
knowledge from the black experience of the 50`s and
60`s. (The test involves

vicious racial stereotyping,
–craps, welfare,
alcohol–and if it had been written by a white
sociologist rather than a black one, it would have
caused a riot.)

This test is one of

many
devised to highlight the difference between
black and white cultures. It`s frankly designed to
create a test which whites can`t pass, (“giving white
folks a chance to have their IQ scores based on their
ability to correctly respond to material about which
they know practically nothing.” Jane Elliott)
which
supposedly discredits the concept of

IQ testing
altogether.

I can actually pass this test, with 11 out of 15
questions, but that`s because I specialize in obscure
knowledge.

The idea that people who don`t know how long to cook
chitlings, don`t know jazz great

Charlie Parker`s


nickname
, or that

Jet
is the name of a black news and gossip
magazine are suffering from the same kind of

educational problem
that kids who can`t pass algebra
after 12 years of compulsory education have is
ridiculous.

I wish my knowledge of Jane Elliott`s philosophy was
obscure. But it`s not. Her opinions are actually the
mainstream
of

diversity education,
and there`s more of it every
day.