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Looking into 'Eyes'

March 29, 2009

Re "Thanking her for opening my eyes," Column One, March 26

I first learned of Jane Elliott's Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes exercise in a psychology textbook in college. Ten years later, I viewed the famous documentary in my education sociology class at Loyola Marymount. Raised in a white, educated environment, my parents taught me to tolerate other races and ethnicities. But viewing Elliott's exercise in a classroom environment has more relevance for me now as a teacher than anything else I learned.

It bothers me that Elliott was later scorned by her family and community. Elliott's courageous exercise proves the reason teachers and professors need tenure. Jane Elliott can be reassured that I too thank her for opening the eyes of this middle-aged, white and male teacher.

Douglas Frankenfeld

Long Beach

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When I was a child, I saw the Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes experiment on TV. As an African American growing up in a white suburb, it showed in simple yet profound terms what life was like for me.

I have never forgotten the experiment. I think every schoolchild in America should see it. Thank you; Jane Elliott, you get it.

Cindy Hudson

Newport Beach

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I take issue with the decision to run this piece of ninth-grade-level reporting at all, much less on Page 1.

The author's experience of believing "life would be easier, happier, better if her brown eyes were not almond-shaped" -- and her subsequent sophomoric deduction that this constitutes racism -- is yet another perfect example of our culture's insistence on finding someone or something outside of ourselves on which to lay blame for perceived injustices.

As a white female born in this country, I too have experienced and wasted years yearning to look like others. Our culture's perception of beauty almost always awards opportunities to those who fit the ideal.

As I looked for employment on Craigslist not long ago, many listings required that the applicant be "attractive" and include a photo. Is this so different from what the writer describes as "racism"?

Susann Buzoff

Los Angeles

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