Jane Elliott, an American diversity educator born in 1933, is known for her “Blue eyes/Brown eyes” exercise.
This experiment, initiated in 1968 after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, exposed her all-white third-grade students to racial segregation based on eye color to simulate racial discrimination.
Documented in “The Eye of the Storm” in 1970 and again in PBS’s “A Class Divided” in 1985, the exercise spotlighted how the “superior” group exhibited arrogance while the “inferior” group became subservient.
Elliott’s efforts gained national attention, leading her to abandon traditional teaching to focus on advocating against discrimination.
However, her methods were controversial, with some applauding her approach while others criticized its potential psychological harm.
Research into the effectiveness of her methods yielded moderate results. Elliott is credited as a pioneer of diversity training, conducting sessions for major corporations and governmental bodies.
Her impact is recognized worldwide and she has been featured multiple times in media and academia.
Here is the compilation of her best quotes on racism.
Top 10 Jane Elliott Quotes
1. “Racism is a learned affliction and anything that is learned can be unlearned.” ~ (Jane Elliott).
2. “To sit back and do nothing is to cooperate with the oppressor.” ~ (Jane Elliott).
3. I love playing smart and tough and having funny lines. ~ Jane Elliott.
4. People who are racist aren’t stupid. They’re ignorant, and the answer to ignorance is education. ~ Jane Elliott.
5. The flowers of the forest are wide awake. ~ Jane Elliott.
6. I don’t wanna go to my grave knowing that we didn’t make a difference. ~ Jane Elliott.
7. If I can bring people a moment of fun and relief in their lives, well, that’s the win. ~ Jane Elliott.
8. Nobody is born a bigot. You have to learn bigotry. Bigotry is a learned response. ~ Jane Elliott.
9. I don’t tweet or do any other social media, so I don’t know what’s being said out there. ~ Jane Elliott.
10. “Education in this country is about how to maintain the status quo and to perpetuate racism.” ~ (Jane Elliott).
Best Jane Elliott Quotes
11. “You are not born racist. You are born into a racist society. And like anything else, if you can learn it, you can unlearn it. But some people choose not to unlearn it, because they’re afraid they’ll lose power if they share with other people. We are afraid of sharing power. That’s what it’s all about.” ~ (Jane Elliott).
12. “We don’t need a melting pot in this country, folks. We need a salad bowl. In a salad bowl, you put in the different things. You want the vegetables – the lettuce, the cucumbers, the onions, the green peppers – to maintain their identity. You appreciate differences.” ~ (Jane Elliott).
13. “When you say to a person of color, ‘When I see you, I don’t see you Black; I just see everybody the same’ think about that. You don’t have the right to say to a person, ‘I do not see you as you are; I want to see you as I would be more comfortable seeing you.’” ~ (Jane Elliott).
14. “We learn to be racist, therefore we can learn not to be racist. Racism is not genetical. It has everything to do with power.” ~ (Jane Elliott)..
15. “I’ve got news for you: There are going to be people other than Christians in the hereafter. What are you going to do about it? Are you not going to go?” ~ (Jane Elliott).
16. “Age is how we determine how valuable you are.” ~ (Jane Elliott).
17. “Somebody has to wear the black hat and give the audience someone to shake their fists at. They want someone to hate. And if that’s what you want to pay me to do, I’m happy to do it!” ~ (Jane Elliott).
18. “White people’s number one freedom, in the United States of America, is the freedom to be totally ignorant of those who are other than white. We don’t have to learn about those who are other than white. And our number two freedom is the freedom to deny that we’re ignorant.” ~ (Jane Elliott).
19. “I am absolutely opposed to political correctness. You cannot confront hate speech until you’ve experienced it. You need to hear every side of the issue instead of just one.” ~ (Jane Elliott).
20. “I think I’m the only 65-year-old actress in Los Angeles who hasn’t had plastic surgery, so somebody’s gotta play the old-lady parts!” ~ (Jane Elliott).
Famous Jane Elliott Quotes
21. “450,000 Iraqi children have died from starvation and lack of medicine as a result of our embargo. If you believe God loves little children – and hundreds of thousands more Iraqi children will die if there is war – you have to believe that God will judge us very harshly for this.” ~ (Jane Elliott).
22. “About 10,000 years ago, males and females were acting equitably and were treating one another as equals, and then males took over the power, because they have physical power and physical strength.” ~ (Jane Elliott).
23. “I don’t have a Twitter account. I don’t go to fan club gatherings. I’m not one of those actors who spends a lot of time engaging with the audience.” ~ (Jane Elliott).
24. “I’m a practicing Christian – and I’m going to keep practicing till I get it right – but I don’t feel everyone has to practice the same religion that I do. You have a right to worship who you choose and how you choose to.” ~ (Jane Elliott).
Popular Jane Elliott Quotes
25. “If you have been a slave all your life, used to being ordered about and abused from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep, it’s impossible to adjust to normal life overnight. I had never been free to make my own decisions before and had no idea how to do it. I was like a bird that has been bred in captivity suddenly being released into the wild: I fell apart.” ~ (Jane Elliott).
26. “What did you people who are wearing blue collars now find out today?” ~ (Jane Elliott).
27. “God only created one race; the human race. Color groups are just…color groups!” ~ (Jane Elliott).
28. “First, you have to require that teachers learn what they haven’t about history.” ~ (Jane Elliott)..
29. “I loved raising my kids. I loved the process, the dirt of it, the tears of it, the frustration of it, Christmas, Easter, birthdays, growth charts, pediatrician appointments. I loved all of it.” ~ (Jane Elliott).
30. “This country isn’t a melting pot. Think of this country as a stir fry. That’s what this country should be. A place where people are appreciated for who they are.” ~ (Jane Elliott).
31. “Talking won’t do it. Talk is cheap. Change requires action.” ~ (Jane Elliott).
32. “Nothing thrills me more than to be good at something. It’s very rewarding, and I feel grateful and blessed, and I never take it for granted.” ~ (Jane Elliott).
Inspiring Jane Elliott Quotes
33. “No white group has founded a major religion on this planet. The major religious were started in the Orient and the Middle East, not in Greece and Rome. I always knew you racists didn’t have a prayer.” ~ (Jane Elliott).
34. I’m not curing cancer or running a small county. I haven’t developed a greener car. I just play act. ~ Jane Elliott.
35. We don’t know anything about racism. We’ve never experienced it. If words can make a difference in your life for seven minutes, how would it affect you if you heard this every day of your life? ~ Jane Elliott.