Running Their Own Race

Today, we take a trip back to a multiculturalism class at UNC in 1990/1991. A wonderful professor, Dr. John Halcón, opened the eyes of many students studying to be teachers. He continues to reach students today at California State University, San Marcos.

Dr. Halcón showed us a video of an experiment by Jane Elliott, performed on and with her classroom of children. The brown eye/blue eye experiment. Following is an excerpt of the video (excuse the subtitles, this was the video located that showed the most of the content we wanted to share with you.) It’s disturbing to watch what happens.

After you’ve watched this video, think about your reaction to it. Growing up with resources and supportive parents and teachers, your background likely differs from that of students who didn’t (and still don’t) have the same benefits or who look different than the rest of the class.

The reason this is being shared is because the following video appeared on Facebook and we’re hoping you’ll watch it as well.


While there’s certainly a reaction to pointing out students publicly in these lessons, and that is extremely uncomfortable and probably makes the empathetic individual want to protect them, it does serve to open the eyes of those who haven’t grown up experiencing such issues and what we would consider atrocities.

When we think about our students living in poverty, living in situations not ideal to learning, living without resources to do their homework, living without supports to be as successful as possible, or simply making it through each day surviving, we need to bring our empathy to the table and, as a community, determine what supports we can add to the experiences of children in and out of our schools.

From an educational standpoint, as in the second video, each student is running their own race. But, each one has different tools to reach the finish line, different disadvantages/advantages, and is starting in a different place.

Equity. We keep talking about it.

Just something uncomfortable for many of us to think about…

What are your thoughts?

Here’s more about Ms. Elliott:

“Jane Elliott, internationally known teacher, lecturer, diversity trainer, and recipient of the National Mental Health Association Award for Excellence in Education, exposes prejudice and bigotry for what it is, an irrational class system based upon purely arbitrary factors. And if you think this does not apply to you. . . you are in for a rude awakening. “

“In response to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. over thirty years ago, Jane Elliott devised the controversial and startling, “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes” exercise. This, now famous, exercise labels participants as inferior or superior based solely upon the color of their eyes and exposes them to the experience of being a minority. Everyone who is exposed to Jane Elliott’s work, be it through a lecture, workshop, or video, is dramatically affected by it.”