American Sociological Association

Obscuring Oppression: Racism, Cissexism, and the Persistence of Social Inequality

This article outlines a generic process in the reproduction of inequality the authors name obscuring oppression. On the basis of 35 in-depth interviews with college students seeking to make sense of two contemporary social movements, Black Lives Matter and Transgender Bathroom Access, the authors demonstrate three ways people obscure (i.e., avoid, ignore, hide, or explain away claims of) oppression in response to minority protest: trusting the public (i.e., suggesting that an educated public would not allow inequalities to persist), appealing to order (i.e., arguing that if protesters followed the rules, society would be more welcoming to change), and dismissing oppression (i.e., framing movement claims as false or exaggerated). In conclusion, the authors argue that examining processes of obscuring oppression may provide insight into (1) the persistence of inequality in society, (2) linkages between color-blind racism and systemic patterns of sexism and cissexism in society, and (3) potential reactions to other social movements seeking justice for marginalized groups.


J. E. Sumerau





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