“You don’t come back in here until you’ve apologized to every person in this room, Because you just exercised a freedom that none of these people of color have. When these people of color get tired of racism, they can’t just walk out, because there’s no place in this country where they aren’t going to be exposed to racism. They can’t even stay in their own homes and not be exposed to racism if they turn on their television. But you, as a white female, when you get tired of being judged and treated unfairly on the basis of your eye color, you can walk out that door, and you know it won’t happen out there. You exercised a freedom they don’t have. If you’re going to be in here you’re going to apologize to every person of color in this room. And do it now.”
“I’m sorry there’s racism in this country—
“BULLSHIT! No, you’re not going to say ‘I’m sorry there’s racism.’ You’re going to apologize for what YOU just did.”
“I will not apologize because it’s not a matter of race always—”
Jane Elliot is a champ.
I’m getting infernally SICK of the white whiners saying Jane Elliot was being overtly cruel to the kids in that documentary.
Look, I’m going to explain this as clearly as possible.
The exercise was to teach white people/white passing people about the daily racism that POC face by putting them in a position to be discriminated against constantly. This was the point of the “A Class Divided” exercise.
Now, these students were all required to sign waivers saying that they would undergo high emotional stress from the exercise. They signed knowing that they were going into a situation that would stress them out.
As the exercise continues, after barely thirty minutes of being discriminated against, two white women have burst into tears, one of which stormed out and never came back. Elliot goes on to make the point that when people of color are in these situations where they’re fed up…WE DON’T HAVE THE OPTION TO STORM OUT AND NEVER COME BACK. For most of us, leaving could mean the difference between having a job or keeping a job and continuously facing racism/sexism/homophobia. Since the discrimination this exercise is dealing with race, I’m going to focus on that. For most of us, leaving could mean federal prison—I’m in the military, one of the biggest cesspools for all kinds of discrimination in human history. I face sexism and racism everyday, and you know what? After 23 years of facing racism and sexism, you learn to swallow the poison.
You become immune to most of the microaggressions, but sometimes, the armor wears down and you have to repair it.
The purpose of this exercise was to show you white folks that we (POC) don’t have a choice. I can’t go outside right now and be secure in the knowledge that I won’t be met with some level of discrimination based on my appearance. I can’t turn on the TV and be secure in the knowledge that representations of my race won’t be overblown caricatures or typecasted roles.
People of color don’t have the option of bursting into tears and storming off, because you—white folks—have the power to take away from us what we have. Our rights, our freedoms, our livelihood. You getting your feelings hurt by some person of color is not the equivalent to me having to swallow the poisonous racism of my teachers from middle school to college. To fucking college. That’s over twenty years of racism from people who are supposed to be responsible for my education.
You’ve probably seen on your dash all of us sharing personal experiences about the mistreatment we’ve received from our teachers, the constant judging, the fact that there is no safe place for us to go and simply be ourselves without fear of being judged and ridiculed or put under the microscope.
The point of this video was to hurt your feelings. To hurt your feelings so you can have some fucking perspective. And you know what? Your. Feelings. Don’t. Matter. It is the number one thing you should take away from this. Your feelings regarding racism against POC do not matter because it isn’t about you. You’re not losing anything having these discussions. You still get to go outside and be as white and carefree as ever. You get no sympathy from me just because a Black girl made fun of you in school one time, and suddenly you think you’ve gleaned what it means to be oppressed because of your race. Calling you a “Ginger” because of your red hair and freckles isn’t oppression. It’s mean, but in the end you still come out as privileged and white as ever. We don’t have that option. We’ve been picked on, beaten, mistreated, killed, and even if we come away from it alive, we’re not unscathed, and we know we’re just going to have to face it elsewhere from someone else.