Eyes wide open: Jane Elliott to speak about gentrification at DC elementary school

The activist and diversity educator is best known for her “blue eye, brown eye” experiment from 1968 as a response to Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.

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Jane Elliott will be sure to open the eyes of attendees at her upcoming event in DC.

On June 4, Anne Beers Elementary is set to host the 85-year-old former public school teacher and current diversity educator for an experimental masterclass with students, parents, educators and the community. The event’s inspiration originated with parents from the school who wished to lead a conversation about DC’s gentrification over the past two decades.

Elliott’s interactive masterclasses will allow attendees to engage in conversations about race relations through respectful and understanding ways, especially in a community as diverse as the nation’s capital.

She is best known for her “blue eye, brown eye” experiment from 1968, where she taught her students about implicit bias and racism following Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. She has taken the experiment and other modernized workshops around the country, and continues to fight for better education on diversity and racism.

So, what actually is gentrification and why is Jane Elliott speaking about it here? Here’s a crash course.

Gentrification is the policy-driven process of displacing residents of low-income urban communities, commonly close to large metropolitan areas, to be replaced with public and private sector infrastructure that raises property values, accommodating white and higher-paying residents. It results in known, unequal distribution of neighborhood value and resources, heavily benefiting those who are of higher financial status and mostly incoming white residents.

According to a study conducted by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, DC was identified as the most gentrified city from 2000 to 2013. An estimated 20,000 black residents were displaced due to gentrification, widely impacting local schools and neighborhoods with a growing lack of low-income housing options for minorities, as well as hindering diversity in schools.

This event is sponsored by Anne Beers Elementary Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) and Ed Reform Now. For more information, please click here// Anne Beers Elementary School: 3600 Alabama Ave. SE; 6-9 p.m.; Washington, DC; $40

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