I have mentioned before that we have been going through some adoption education through our adoption agency. Part of our education focuses on racial issues as we are adopting a child from a different ethnic background from our own.
From reading books on the subject I have thought how little I really can understand how someone in a minority group feels because I have never been a part of a minority group. Kevin and I have joked about our trip to India and that we were definitely in the minority as far as we saw very few people with white skin while we were there. However, we were not treated badly because we had white skin – we were actually treated with reverence, stared at, looked upon as better. That was not racism in the negative, but it certainly made us feel conspicuous and uncomfortable. We did not deserve to be treated better just because we have white skin.
I just finished watching a PBS Frontline show called A Class Divided. This was something we were asked to watch for our adoption education. In 1970 a teacher in Iowa conducted an experiment with her third grade class. She segregated them into a blue eyed group and a brown eyed group. She told the class one day that the blue eyed children were better than the brown eyed kids. She did things to give them privileges and to make them feel superior. The brown eyed group were told they weren’t as smart and had privileges taken away.
It was interesting to watch the dynamics of what happened in that class. The kids who were told they were superior started to behave that way and put down the other kids – solely based on their eye color. These kids were friends and suddenly they were enemies. They also took tests on material they had already been tested on and the kids in the discriminated group had lower scores than they had just the day before. The kids in the revered group had better test scores.
As a white person – the people with power in our society – we really have no way of identifying with a minority group. We do not understand how they feel or how they are treated. Watching this show will help you to understand and could change the way you think about or treat people of a different ethnicity from you. I encourage you to take a half hour and watch this show at the link I provided.