Jan 16, 2012

As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s holiday, I decided to sit down and watch a marathon that was taking place on OWN. During the marathon, they were airing former Oprah Winfrey shows that dealt with race. One of the shows that aired was one that I think should go down as one of the most powerful Oprah Shows of all time. It was the one in which she had anti-racism activist Jane Elliott on. Elliott had developed a technique to show how racism and prejudice are taught to people instead of something that people are inherently born with.

During the show, brown eye people and blue eye were separated. The brown eye people were given much better treatment while the people who had blue eyes were treated horribly.

I can remember vividly watching this show in 1992 at the age of twelve and all the emotions it brought up in me. Those same emotions came up again watching the show 20 years later. It's amazing how far we've come but yet so little has change when it comes to the issues of racism and sexism. A constant reminder of that for me is on the right side of this website under the heading 'Popular Posts'. Even after being posted over four years ago, the post I did about the 'History of the Word Nigger' continues to be the most popular post on my site. For some reason people are and continue to be fascinated with that word.

One of the things I took from Jane's exercise back in 1992 is something I still hold on to even to this day. Racism and prejudice is learned behavior.

I've always hated the word tolerant because for me it's always carried a negative connotation. I've always loved how Jane Elliott broke down the word tolerant and how people don't want you to tolerate them but rather appreciate their differences.

As we celebrate this MLK Day let's remember to be a more conscious people. The only way we can truly combat the system of racism and sexism is by changing our mindsets. I know it won't be easy, but nothing worth having ever is.


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