In 1968, a teacher named Jane Elliott performed a seminal experiment with her class of third-graders. Wishing to teach them about prejudice, she told them that kids with blue eyes were superior to those with brown eyes, gave the blue-eyed kids all sorts of privileges, and made the brown-eyed kids second-class citizens. Soon enough, the kids had internalized the differences, with the blue-eyed kids picking on the brown-eyed ones.
Now, students across Canada and the U.S. have taken it upon themselves to set up a similar scenario, except with prejudice against redheaded kids, inspired by a four-year-old South Park episode.
Four redheaded children in Los Angeles-area schools were attacked on Friday, based on a Facebook group declaring it to be "Kick a Ginger Day," according to an article in the Los Angeles Times, while two dozen children in an Ontario, Canada, school were suspended after a similar incident and other students in the Vancouver area reported being kicked as many as 80 times during the day.
In the U.S., it was not considered to be a hate crime, but the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are considering classing it as such.
Facebook has since taken the group down, saying it had not been aware of it, but a cached version indicated that it had more than 4,500 fans.
In fact, at this point there are now eleven pages and more than 180 groups, the vast majority of which were purportedly against Kick a Ginger Day.
What was particularly interesting about Elliott's experiment is when she turned the tables and said that, actually, brown-eyed kids were superior to blue-eyed kids. While the kids fairly quickly managed to switch their social positions, the brown-eyed kids didn't treat the blue-eyed kids as badly as they'd been treated.