The 47-year-old actress invited famed racial diversity teacher Jane Elliott to her Facebook Watch show in which they discussed the difficult relationship between women of color and white women.
“I’m not a white woman, I’m a faded black person,” Elliott, 85, told Pinkett Smith. “My people [are those who are] far from the equator and that’s the only reason my skin is lighter. That’s all any white person is.”
The Girls Trip star listened closely and said, “Wow.”
Pinket Smith’s mother, Adrienne Banfield-Jones added, “There’s no such thing as race.”
“There’s one race,” Elliott explained. “There’s one race: the human race. We all came from the same black women 300,000 to 500,000 years ago.”
She added, “The human race began with black women.”
Elliott is a former third-grade teacher who became known for her “blue eyes-brown eyes” exercise which she first conducted for her class the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
Her discussion on race in her third-grade classroom began in 1968 after King’s assassination. In order to teach her students what segregation was and what it felt like, she designated students with blue eyes as the “superior group” while those with brown eyes were the minority.
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Those with blue eyes were given extra privileges such as more food at lunch and sitting at the front of the classroom while brown-eyed children sat in the back.
As a result of the experiment, her students wrote about the experience and their essays were printed in the Riceville Recorder in Iowa under the headline “How Discrimination Feels.” The story was subsequently picked up by the Associated Press and earned Elliott national attention as well as an appearance on The Johnny Carson Show.
Red Table Talk airs Mondays on Facebook Watch.