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Jane Elliott’s simple racism awareness exercise shocked the nation with its demonstration of the devastating impact of discrimination and introduced the basic concept of diversity training in 1968. Now, she has brought her seminal "blue-eyed brown/eyed" exercise to numerous corporations, government agencies, and universities across the country.
Jane Elliott’s method is based on her belief that people can best be motivated to fight discrimination by experiencing it themselves -- if only for a few hours in a controlled environment.
In Blue Eyed, Elliott divides a multi-racial group of Midwesterners on the basis of eye color and then subjects the blue-eyed members to a withering regime of humiliation and contempt. In just a few hours, we watch grown professionals become distracted and despondent, stumbling over the simplest commands. People of color in the group express surprise that whites react so quickly to the kind of discrimination they face every day of their lives.
Included as an added bonus is a 35 minute debriefing where Jane Elliott shows how to help participants apply the lessons of her exercise to their daily work lives. She encourages the mixed group to compare their personal experiences of discrimination to appreciate that white people and people of color inhabit two separate worlds. She asks why none of them came to the aid of the tryannized group and points out that this makes them de facto accomplices to racism.
Key Learning Points
- See how people encounter subtle (and not so subtle) racism every day
- Reveal how even casual bias can have a devastating effect on personal performance, organizational productivity, teamwork, and morale
- Identify culturally-biased codes of conduct which may be invisible to the majority
- Illustrate that "color-blindness" can itself be a form of racism by not valuing the experience of others
- Show how many people unconsciously discriminate
COMPLIMENTARY REVIEW (From Training Media Review)
"The Film is extraordinary in many ways: the ingeniously simple method at the center of the workshop; the uncomfortable and ultimately moving depiction of people learning discrimination in real time; the heartfelt realizations and remorse of both the workshop Blue Eyes and their witnesses; the resonating stories told by the African-American participants; and the excesses and edginess of Elliott herself. At the very least, consider the purchase of this film for the company library. It qualifies as an act of conscience."
- Blue Eyed (the original 93 min. version)
- The Essential Blue Eyed (an abridged 55 min. version with a 35 min. debriefing)
- The 30 Minute Blue Eyed (the 30 most dramatic minutes of Blue Eyed)
- Brief Trainer’s Guide
Guides & Workbooks
- Download Blue Eyed Leader’s Guide Preview
Only preview versions of handouts can be viewed without a license.