Elliott Attacks Racism in UNCP Address
am not here to be loved," Jane Elliott told a UNCP audience of
800 at Givens Performing Arts Center. "I am
going to offend every one in this room."
The former elementary
school teacher and noted expert on racism discussed attitudes on racism,
sexism, ageism and every form of discrimination during her speech October
9 as part of UNC Pembroke's Distinguished
Microphone in hand,
the small, white-haired grandmother proceeded to deliver an hour-long,
blistering sermon against prejudice of all kinds.
the legendary "Brown Eyes/Blue Eyes" experiment that, she
says, proves that racism is a learned behavior and not part of the human
genetic code. The experiment taught children to discriminate against
one another on the basis of eye color.
"We had one
(brown-eyed) girl with a mind like a steel trap who never misspelled
a word until we told her that brown eyes were bad," Elliot said,
demonstrating the power of prejudice in shaping children's self-images.
is some hope though," she said that was revealed when the tables
were turned on the once-superior eye-color group. "Once exposed
to ugly treatment, the children were not as vicious" when it was
their turn to be the superior group.
Elliott took President
Bush to task for promoting war with Iraq.
children have died from starvation and lack of medicine as a result
of our embargo," she said. "If you believe God loves little
children - and hundreds of thousands more Iraqi children will die if
there is war - you have to believe that God will judge us very harshly
"We would not
be doing this if those were white, Christian children," Elliott
said. "We are creating our own enemies of the future."
pleaded with the mostly-student audience to end "the myth of white
superiority" and the "miseducation" of American youth.
to change the way you talk and change your behavior," she said.
"If what your are learning on this campus is how to get power,
you are going to do a lot of bad things with it."
"On this campus
and in this world, it should be all right to be who you are," Elliot
said. "Anything you learn, you can unlearn, including racism."
Speaker Series will continue with actor and director Henry Winkler
on Nov. 12, actor James Earl Jones on Feb. 18, actress Rita Moreno on
March 11 and UNCP graduate and Oklahoma basketball coach Kelvin Sampson
to University Newswire