All in the Name of Education

OK, here’s the deal: All my classes so far this semester require a journal to be kept–all with a slightly different theme specific to the class. Also, these journals represent a significant portion of each courses over mark, about 20 percent each. I just wrote my first weeks batch worth of entries and found that I have an overlap of about 70 percent on each journal. So I am thinking that maybe I should just start using my blog entries as a starting point, then fine-tune each entry afterwords for each class? I am probably violating some code of conduct or self-plagiarism–or thing… Hey, I am writing the same experiences out over three times here!

Today’s class was very interesting. There was not a dry eye from anyone of us. The class, Minorities and the Criminal Justice System, is a fourth year criminology class that focuses on how minorities are viewed, treated and represented within the context of the criminal justice system. We watched a video called, “Indecently Exposed 2004,” of which volunteers are asked to participate in a anti-racial exercise.

Indecently Exposed is a documentary on the subject of systemic racism, focussing on discrimination affecting First Nations persons. At the core of the documentary is footage from a one-day workshop (the “Blue-Eyed/Brown-Eyed” workshop) conducted by renowned facilitator Jane Elliott. The program doesn’t set out to prove that racism exists. The producers assume it does and that the solution is found at the grassroots level, in a change of heart by individuals who will act on their convictions.

In the video, people were divided up into two groups: one group were people with blue eyes, and the other were brown eyes. The Blue Eyes were sent to a room that was dirty, cold, barren, and had no chairs, food and was poorly lit. The Brown Eyes group were sent to a room that had chairs, food, heat, and were introduced with instructions and directions. Each group represented the social divide in real life, but only in that the Blue Eyes group were now the subordinate class, i.e., the aboriginals. The Blue Eyes were now treated as if they were living on the “Reservation,” while the Brown Eyes group were the dominate class, living life without colour. This video was unbelievably powerful because I know that few people would, or could, survive such an exercise without experiencing some sort of extreme emotion.

For the class, after watching the video, we did a “circle,” where we sat in a circle and each person talked about what they got from the experience. This is where I saw twenty year old men and women talking about racism and their experience about it from every point of view. In these classes, we are privileged to have a wide and diverse cross-section of people who come from many different background and groups. Criminology is female dominated, and with that we account for probably a truer representation of the social spectrum as a whole. So when we talk about racism and criminal profiling, we get first hand accounts above and beyond what any textbook could ever give. Like I said, there was not a dry eye in the room among the Browns or the Blues.

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