In light of the tragic events surrounding the death of Daniel Prude at the hands of police officers in Rochester, New York (see the Center for Disability Rights statement) and the subsequent protests, I’ve been reminded of a video resource we used in The Historical Roots of Peer Support Services course when we revised it to include topics related to power, oppression, discrimination, institutional racism, Intersectionality, and the origins of Eugenics.
In this 1992 Oprah Show episode, award-winning anti-racism activist and educator Jane Elliott taught the audience a tough lesson about racism by demonstrating just how easy it is to learn prejudice.
Watch as the audience, totally unaware that an exercise is underway, gets separated into two groups based on the color of their eyes. The blue-eyes group was discriminated against while the people with brown eyes were treated with respect.
Jane says she first started this exercise in her third grade class back in 1968, the day after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
We stand with those who call for reform to the way in which people in a mental health and/or addiction crisis are treated. Including and involving peer support is one of many possible reforms that should be considered.