Denial and Willful Ignorance

Members of the privileged group maintain that oppression does not exist at all or that various elements of oppression do not exist. 

It is common for members of the dominant group to acknowledge the existence of prejudice and bigotry in the community but to deny that the oppression is systemic. The opposite of denial is acknowledgement. It is difficult to fight oppression when there is widespread denial that oppression exists in the first place. The first step in dismantling systems of oppression is to acknowledge that they exist. 

There are many reasons why individuals and communities deny or ignore oppression.

  1. Perpetrators might deny their crimes to avoid prosecution. 
  2. Bystanders might not see the underlying pattern that links numerous crimes, large and small, against an oppressed group. 
  3. Bystanders may be genuinely ignorant of numerous crimes and have little motivation to investigate and discover disturbing aspects of their communities. 
  4. Narratives justifying oppression, many of which rest on foundations of dominance, revenge, and/or tribalism, are widely accepted and therefore the burden is on people to uproot those narratives rather than sustain them.