Example Of Essay On A Class Divided


Racial discrimination came to the United States with the onset of slavery in early nineteenth century. It has slowly crept into society and stayed on despite the fact that slavery has been abolished since a long time ago. Discrimination has to an extent become a way of life for the oppressors and the oppressed alike with them not fully understanding why they discriminate so. Ohio high school teacher Jane Elliot decided to bring this point up to the attention of the people and make them realize the grief and anguish it really causes. “A Class divided”, is a videodirected by William Peters based on an exercise conducted by Ms. Elliot in the course of her teaching. This video is a follow-up of the television documentary, ”Eye of the Storm” which aired in the year 1970. (Pbs, 1985)

Effect of discrimination on a child’s psyche

Ms Elliot certainly obtained her goal of creating awareness about discrimination by dividing all her class students in white populated Riceville, Iowa by the colour of their eyes. It is a simple enough lesson. We come away from the video thinking that none of us like being discriminated against, regardless of whether we are rich or poor; smart or dull; blue-eyed or brown-eyed like in her exercise or of dark or light skin. Everybody deserves a fair share in life and features like colour should never be used to discriminate anyone.  You can imagine how a child would feel about being discriminated against because of their skin colour and for absolutely no fault of theirs. We see evidence of this in the exercise by Ms. Elliot. The children were told that they were not smart enough and separated from the others in their regular activities because of the colour of their eye. We say this being reflected on their learning skills. The collar that was around their neck felt more like a noose and as a result became a self-made mental block that stopped them from being efficient. This is probably why minority children in general fare lower than others. It has no bearing on their abilities but their low self-esteem but attributed more towards a feeling of hopelessness and that they would not be acknowledged no matter what. There are exceptions of extremely bright people from these groups but we also know how they had to struggle their way up the ladder.

Discrimination leads to frustration and Anger:

We noticed the anger that stems from frustration from being labelled as a brown-eyed child whom we can associate with a black child being called Negro or nigger. This frustration arose from only from one day of discrimination. It is then possible to imagine the anger and frustration of an entire race that have seen discrimination for over a century.  This anger leads them to take things in their own hands. Crime is most often associated with people who have been suppressed, emotionally battered and discriminated against. We have seen the psychological consequences that even a day of discrimination can do to a child’s psyche. A child submitted to such treatment all through his or her growing years will have lasting effects on their psychology and understanding of right from wrong. We also saw adults reacting with the same aggression if not more. We also notice the fear and unsure nature that something like this can create. One of the adults in the session who had a collar around his neck comments that he was not sure if he could go in there and interrupt the brown-eyed people or even sit on the vacant chairs as he was not sure if he would be rebuffed or not.

Racial climate in America Today

America has certainly come a long way since then in electing the fist ever African-American man to rule their country. Barack Obama came to power amidst much chaos in the country and with promises of turning the nation back to its glory. This does say a lot about the people of American and their change in points of view. Reports in the Globe newspaper (Finalcall, 2009) however state that he is also the fist ever president to receive as many threats to his life. Is this because of the racial climate in America or is it due to the domestic condition itself in the United Sates, We do not know.

Works Cited

“A Class Divided.”. Frontline Episode. Pbs online. March 26,1985. Video. March 07, 2012
“America’s racial climate and the first Black president”. Finalcall.com News. OCT 27, 2009.
Web. March 07, 2012.