List to my Exclusive Interview with Jane Elliott on The Philippe Matthews RADIO Show!
Michael Brown. Eric Garner. Trayvon Martin. Tamir Rice. Freddie Gray. These are just a few names you’ve heard on the news lately and their deaths have us all asking questions about racism and injustice.
In a world we proudly call modern and progressive, why are we still dealing with racial discrimination? Haven’t we all moved on and accepted that the color of one’s skin shouldn’t be how we judge them?
The US has witnessed the elimination of slave labor and the signing of the Civil Rights Act by President Johnson which prohibits discrimination of all kinds based on race, color, religion or national origin. But despite achieving this, the USA of today is still dealing with issues of race.
Racism is a Global Issue
While the topic may be a hotly debated one in America, it’s also an issue all around the world. One only needs to look at sports to see how prevalent the issue is. Being a sport that is supposed to be about solidarity, we see both players and fans hurl racist insults at other players of color. And one of the most recent examples of this was the much talked about Mayweather-Pacquaio boxing match in Las Vegas.
But racist issues stemmed way before that match took place.
In 2010, way before the match that was hyped up as “The Fight of the Century,” Mayweather went on a racist rant, which was filmed, against his bitter rival. In the video, the undefeated champion called the Filipino boxer “that little yellow chump” and once he defeats him would “make that mother f***** make me a sushi roll and cook me some rice.”
That was five years ago and sadly, the same level of global racism was demonstrated not just to Manny but to Floyd as well.
Live commenting on social media during games has become a popular trend on Twitter, and for goodness sake, even on Facebook. So it was not a surprise that millions of fans all over the world who tuned into this over hyped boxing event took to social media to voice their “opinions.”
Sadly, those said opinions were laden with racist insults left and right. The n-word was used thousands of times to refer to Mayweather and even peaked when he was announced as the winner. Hispanic Twitter users also joined in on the racist parade by using derogatory terms for black people like “mayate” which refers to a black dung beetle.
Fans from Asia and the Philippines weren’t exactly mindful in their use of insults as well. “Nognog,” a Filipino term which basically bears the same meaning as the n-word, and “sunog” which means “burned” were all used to refer to Mayweather.
With global racism still very much an issue these days, it’s fitting that we look back into the work that one Jane Elliott did decades ago.
The Fight for Equality
Jane is an internationally known teacher, lecturer, diversity trainer and recipient of the National Mental Health Association Award for Excellence in Education. Her life has been about exposing prejudice and bigotry which kicked off the day after Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated.
That time, Jane was a third-grade school teacher. To get children to understand racist tendencies, she devised a controversial anti-racism experiment called the Blue Eye/Brown Eye Exercise. What the activity does is expose children to what it’s like being a minority and judged because of your eye color.
This is a test she demonstrated on the arguably biggest platform you could ever be seen on during the time: The Oprah Show. Before guests were allowed into the studio, they were divided into two groups: those who have blue eyes and those who have brown eyes. The blue-eyed group was discriminated against while the brown-eyed group were taken care of.
Although an emotionally painful exercise to go through, what it does show is the incorrect reasoning behind racism. As Jane puts it in her appearance on Oprah’s show, “There is only one race, the human race, and human beings created racism.”
More than twenty years later, Jane was featured in Oprah’s “Where Are They Now” and she is still fighting for the same thing. She says, “Eye color and skin color are caused by the same chemical: melanin. There’s no logic in judging people by the amount of a chemical in their skin. Pigmentation should have nothing to do with how you treat another person, but unfortunately, it does.”
With more people like Jane who bring light to our inner racist tendencies – even when we don’t admit them – maybe we can learn to love each other more without even giving thought to skin color and race – we can just love each other as members of the human race.
Learn more about the work Jane is doing through the following pages: