Brown Eyes and Blue Eyes (1968) – The amazing experiment conducted by Jane Elliot with her students about racism and how it is taught rather than being inherent. An amazing look into how entitlement is fostered. [00:14:36]

Read the Story

Show Top Comments

I was fortunate enough to be in one of her day long workshops when I was 16. I am blue-eyed and therefore subjected to the abuse. It was easily one of the most powerful experiences of my life. The frustration and rage I get was incredible. I had to fight myself not to kick her kneecaps off. I think the most powerful part was the discussion afterwards, though. The black students, who all had brown eyes, did not participate in belittling the blue-eyed group. When asked why they all said they knew what we were feeling and simply did not want to make anyone feel the way they were made to feel most of the time. For anyone who was “scarred” by the experience, you should be. I still carry my lessons from the day and have worked hard to simply be kind and compassionate. Perhaps others did not have the same takeaways, but her work is important and has opened a lot of eyes over the years. Racism, like most behaviors, is taught. It can be unlearned. It is frequently broken down by just getting to know people or finding a way to empathize with their experience. Hate is not a natural state, though. Children are kind and generous and loving and compassionate before they are taught hate and fear. I hope more people find ways to get back to being more child-like, because we need more of those pure child-like qualities in the world.


seen hella whites complaining about how horrible this experiment was, and some guy from the test group held grudge for rest of his life for being treated “unfairly” ​ fucking mind boggling.


Thank you for posting this, it brings back memories. My teacher did this to our class when I was 9 years old(late 1980’s). As a blue eyed,( 1 of 3 blued eyed kids in the class) I felt like a loser for the first hour. I can still hear my teachers voice when we blue eyed kids inevitably got an answer wrong. “See class, just like I said, blue eyes are not like us smart brown eyed people.” I remember looking around and all the brown eyed kids agreeing with her. Then the teacher started giving Red Vine Licorice to all the brown eyed kids and none to the blue eyed kids. That was the last straw. I lost it, started crying in class. It was the greatest injustice I had felt up to that point in my life. She had to stop the experiment to calm me down and gave all of us blue eyed kids extra Red Vines to make the peace. It was the only time I ever cried in school. Just in case you were wondering, if she was passing out Twizzlers that day, no way I would of cried. No way! Red Vines are the best and Twizzlers are trash. I went from angry/ confused to blubbering in 5 minutes once that tub got passed by me. I’m a grown ass man and I do not tolerate racist people( or Twizzlers) in my life, so the experiment worked on me.


It’s also mildly interesting that the subtitles are in Minnan (Taiwanese) rather than standard Chinese.


These experiments always make me wonder how it feels like to be a person of colour in the room and watching reactions. And that feeling of self-awareness when you know that during the debrief all those blue eyes are going to turn and stare at you and only see you for your brown eyes and skin colour. And what the next day would feel like. It makes my skin crawl to think about the uncomfortableness.