I Am Not Your Karen: A profile of the enduring allyship of Jane Elliott

I Am Not Your Karen: A profile of the enduring allyship of Jane Elliott

By Nafeesah Allen

 

When asked about her work in 2020, Jane Elliott put it simply: “I separate groups of [white] people according to the color of their eyes in order to give them some idea of how it feels to be treated unfairly on the basis of a physical characteristic over which you have no control.” Now 87 years old, Elliott has been debunking the “myth of the rightness of whiteness” since the day after Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered in 1968. Then, she divided her all-white third grade classroom into two groups: blue eyes and brown eyes. The former group was demeaned and degraded; the latter quickly ascended with aggression. The experiment was used to show just how quickly a power structure of discrimination can be taught and adopted, even when the claims that support it are baseless. These days, she’s adapted the experiment for adults around the world. Over 50 years of advocacy have made her the very definition of an anti-racist, long before the term was coi...

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