The 35 Most Inspiring Jane Elliott Quotes

Jane Elliott is an American anti-racism activist, a former third-grade teacher, an educator as well as an LGBT activist, and a feminist. Eliott is recognized for her Blue eyes and Brown eyes exercise where she conducted the exercise for her students after Martin Luther King Jr was killed by a gunshot.

The local newspaper later published the children’s compositions about the experience, and the reactions were the backbone of her career as a public speaker. Elliot was entirely against discrimination.

The classroom exercise was again filmed for the third time with her 1970 third-graders and this time it became the Eye of the Storm. Later, the film motivated a retrospective that brought together the 1970 class members together with their teacher, and this was fifteen years later.

After leaving the school, Jane Elliott became a full-time diversity trainer and has featured on Oprah  and Ellen. She still holds this exercise and teaches about its effectiveness in the entire United States and also overseas. This article gives You a collection of quotes about Jane Elliott and will remind You to always pay more attention to problems involving racial inequality. You will be motivated to always stand for what is right.

Jane Elliott Quotes

1. “You convince those who are analogous to the brown-eyed people that they are superior, that they are perfect, that they have the right to rule. And You convince those who take the place of the blue-eyed students that they are less than. If You do that for a lifetime, what do You suppose that does to them?”– Jane Elliott

2. “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

3. “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

4. “I’m not curing cancer or running a small county. I haven’t developed a greener car. I just play act. And if I can bring people a moment of fun and relief in their lives, well, that’s the win.”– Jane Elliott

5. “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

6. “I get the same results with the exercise in Berlin or in the Netherlands that I do in the U.S. or Australia or Curacao. And what’s even more distressing is the fact that I’ve gotten the same results using the exercise with adults in Scotland and Australia in the year 2002 that I got using the exercise with children in Riceville, Iowa, in 1968.”– Jane Elliott

7. “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

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8.” I love nothing better than to get all the nuts and bolts out of the way – show up on time, with lines learned, clear on what the director expects of me, with my buttons buttoned and my jewelry on correctly – and then I completely commit to play acting.”– Jane Elliott

9. “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

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10. “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

11. “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

12. “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

13. “Submitting myself for awards feels like a weird kind of horn-blowing that’s not comfortable for me. I’m really happy when someone likes my work, but I don’t like marketing myself, putting myself on display.”– Jane Elliott

14. “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

15.” 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

16. “We are still conditioning people in this country and, indeed, all over the globe to the myth of white superiority. We are constantly being told that we don’t have racism in this country anymore, but most of the people who are saying that are white. white people think it isn’t happening because it isn’t happening to them.”– Jane Elliot

17. “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

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18. “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

19. “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 Elliot

20. “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

21. “And people who say, ‘We aren’t all racists.’ If You graduated from high school in the United States of America and You didn’t learn how to be a racist You need to take the whole program over again, because that’s what the program is: how to be a good American.”– Jane Elliot

22. “Racism is only, as we practice it, about 500 years old. We could destroy it, if we chose to. But that would take education.”– Jane Elliott

23. “They need to realize that one of the things, one of the driving forces in this election was the knowledge people have that within 30 years white people will have lost their numerical majority in the United States of America.”– Jane Elliott

24. “Racism is a learned affliction and anything that is learned can be unlearned.”– Jane Elliott

25. “White people in this country are tweaked. We are raised to believe a myth of white superiority. Malcolm X, in The Autobiography of Malcolm X, said that white people’s “belief that they are ‘superior’ in some way is so deeply rooted that these things are in the national white subconscious.”– Jane Elliot

26. “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

27. “Black Lives Matter movement is the most important thing to have happened on this continent since Martin Luther King Jr”– Jane Elliot

28. “I watched brilliant little blue-eyed white Christian children become timid and frightened, and angry and unable to learn.”– Jane Elliott

29. “We have to start seeing [all] people as our relatives. You are a member of my family; I will not allow You to be abused because of somebody else’s ignorance about the color of your skin.”– Jane Elliott

30. “I watched my students become what I told them they were; I watched little wonderful brown-eyed white people become vicious, ugly, nasty, discriminating, domineering people in the space of 15 minutes.”– Jane Elliott

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31.” It’s time to insist that educators recognize the myth, teach about the myth, but teach the truth, that there’s only one race: it’s the human race.”– Jane Elliott

32. “Nobody’s born a bigot, You have to learn bigotry. Bigotry is a learned response.”– Jane Elliott

33. “This is the most Hitlerian administration I’ve ever seen. This man is talking about racial cleansing.”– Jane Elliott

34. “I don’t tweet or do any other social media, so I don’t know what’s being said out there.”– Jane Elliott

35. “Education in this country is about how to maintain the status quo and to perpetuate racism.”– Jane Elliott

Also see: Quotes to Celebrate Black History Month

Jane Elliott Video

In this 1992 episode from the Oprah Winfrey Show, 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. 

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In conclusion, Jane Elliot’s experiment on her third-graders children was very effective about racial discrimination and she has continued to be the voice against racial intolerance. She was even welcomed to experiment on adults hosted at the white House Conference on Youth and Children.

Jane Elliot is an advocate for racial justice and her work has enlightened us about how systemic racism has thrived in our culture. Your biggest takeaway in these quotes should be the enlightenment against racial discrimination and how racism has dragged us behind in achieving worldwide togetherness.

Finally, if you’ve read this far, you will probably enjoy these Angela Davis Quotes too.

Image credit: “Normally I would be teaching today, but it’s Martin Luther King Day. Last week I had all my students watch the Jane Elliott ‘Angry Eye’ exercise which I hadn’t heard of until recently. Most of the students hadn’t seen it before either. If you haven’t seen” by sturgill is licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

1 thought on “The 35 Most Inspiring Jane Elliott Quotes”

  1. Every so often a special person comes into this world. To teach us, guide us and open our soul to who we really are. Thank you for coming into my life. Thank you Jane Elliot.


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