HSS 181/EDPT 101 Diversity Activity Response
September 17, 2009
On the first day of the experiment, Elliot told the students that since she was blue-eyed, that all of the blue-eyed students in class were going to be treated better than the brown-eyed students. She rewarded them with five extra minutes at recess, going back for seconds at lunch, and full reign of the playground. She also made the blue-eyed students feel a sense of superiority by publicly rebuking the brown-eyed students, telling them that the blue-eyed students were smarter and better than them. Almost instantly the demeanor of both the blue-eyed and brown-eyed students changed. The brown-eyed students became distant, dismal and even angry-one of the brown-eyed students hit a blue-eyed student in the stomach because he simply called him ‘brown eyes’. To further the humiliation of the brown eyed students, she also made them wear ugly blue collars so that even from a distance, the students would be recognized by their eye color. The blue-eyed students were overcome by a sense of empowerment and superiority and began teasing and provoking the brown-eyed students simply because they could.
The next day, the roles were reversed. Elliot told the class that the day before she had lied to everyone and that it was actually the brown-eyed students who were superior. She even told the brown-eyed students to put the collars on one of their blue-eyed classmates. Just like the day before, the disposition of the students changed; now the brown-eyed students felt superior to the blue-eyed students.
At the end of the experiment, Elliot sat the class down and explained her reasoning behind the treatment of her students for the past couple of days. She told them that the way they felt was the same way people of different colors feel when they are treated harshly because of their skin color. The students then agreed not to treat anyone differently because of their skin color, and to...