A Class Divided
Thefilm ‘’ by William Peters presents a fascinatingexperiment that seeks to highlight the issue of racism. The filmillustrates how discrimination can stem from a simple matter, forinstance, the color of one’s eyes as presented by teacher JaneElliot to his third-grade students. She believes that no one shouldbe discriminated against because of their skin color. She conducts anexperiment in the class to explain to the students the reason as towhy Martin Luther King was killed. Eliot`s main ideas lie on heremphasis that discrimination is not inborn, but an attitude that canbe adopted by anyone. She also highlights the fact that those whodiscriminate against one another might not realize it until someonedoes the same to them. Therefore, she calls upon the society to bevigilant on behaviors that are deemed unjust and encourages themanagement of schools and workplaces to use the experiment. Thepurpose of the paper is to provide a critical analysis on the issueof racism as discussed in the film, "."
Elliot’sdemonstration is crafted intelligently to spark emotions of anger andfrustration from the students and build in them the emotions thatsurround rejection when one is different. By dividing the students bythe color of the eyes, blue-eyed versus green-eyed, she awakens inthem the reality that people can say anything against others whenthey are not similar. There is an immediate change in the classroomonce the students are divided. There is a shift in attitude andperception of the children about one another. Opinion among youngchildren is high as they tend to have preferences of a given skincolor according to the superiority it is given (Costello and Hudson2). They begin to look at issues critically and are annoyed by simplethings such as being denied the chance to be the first and preventedfrom talking to a person from a different group. One student evenpunches another for calling him names and referring to him by thecolor of his eyes. His reaction was spontaneous, and he felt angry atbeing singled out and probably ridiculed in front of others. Theteacher sought to state that any race that seems prejudiced mightharbor resentment and anger and can be pushed to the extent ofself-defense against racism, which is true even in the modern era(Costello and Hudson 2). Although anger bursts can be justified,violence is not the solution to the issue of racism, it might befruitful against an individual, but not the entire society (Block).In the demonstration with workers of a correctional facility, sheestablishes that simple things can anger adults, for example, waitingfor another group to finish, not referred to by one’s names andbeing singled out for behaviors such as chewing gum among others. Shedemonstrates by her attitude and actions that racism is wrong anddetrimental to one’s life.
Thefilm is entertaining to watch and allows one to reflect upon theissue of racism from a different perspective. It has surprisingtwists in the scenes to attract attention to the matter at hand andprovide a chance for anyone to identify with the experiment. Whatstood out in the experiment is when a green-eyed woman feltdemoralized for being addressed differently other than by using hername. When she tried to defend herself, she was denied theopportunity and was ridiculed by the moderator. The scene isimportant from a sociological perspective as it enables individualsto know that as long as one`s group regards the other as inferior,they would not give them a chance to voice their opinions andanything they say is considered to be wrong. It proves that anysuperiority a particular race feels against another is always as aresult of prejudice or discrimination.
Discriminationis depicted in numerous forms, not only through skin color, but eventhe color of one’s eyes. It shows that people are quick to judgeanyone who is not similar to them. It also shows that prejudice canstart at any age, either in childhood or adulthood. It is alldependent on thoughts and actions of an individual. At the beginningof the experiment, the children were friendly to each other, butafter the introduction, they were mean and angry at each other basedon their groupings. The children were quick to assume the roleassigned to them and changed immediately after being told they wereeither superior or dumb. When the teacher praised the blue-eyedchildren, they performed exceedingly well, but on being told thatthey were dumb, it took twice the time they were assigned to finishthe test. An individual who has faced discrimination tends to believewhat others say, thus empowering their tormentors. The repercussionscan be psychological effects such as stress, anxiety, and trauma thatcan be detrimental to the mental health of an individual (Williams13).
Thefilm presented the issue in a well-articulated manner and equally,the fact that she waited for the children to be adults before she dida follow-up on the matter shows a calculated move. It indicates thatthe adults were more receptive to racism, probably because they hadgone through the experience and the lesson they had learned in theexperiment made them better citizens who could not tolerate racism.The experiment was a success given that the children in third gradeturned out to be responsible and cautious adults. The shortfall ofthe movie has to be the fluctuation of the mood of the moderator atthe correctional facility. Although she achieved her mission ofteaching students about racism, she trampled upon the adult`s egowhich could have resulted in confrontations.
Discriminationis a societal problem that starts with an individual before spreadingto others. If people treat each other badly, it is likely to beadopted by their next generation, and it becomes a stagnatingproblem. Every individual has the power to break the chains ofoppression that comes with discrimination. Skin color should not beused as a tool for judgment. Therefore, everybody should be involvedin the fight against racism since it is not beneficial to anyone, itonly aims to destroy and harm the positive virtues in the society.
Block,Burt. “”. YouTube.13 Dec. 2016, youtube.com/watch?v=jo4JfbEZACU
Costello,Kimberly, and Gordon Hodson. "Explaining dehumanization amongchildren: The interspecies model of prejudice." BritishJournal of Social Psychology 53.1(2014): 175-197.
Williams,Chantea D. "African Americans and racial microaggressions:Coping, psychological well-being, and physical health." (2014).
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