And here is the crux of the problem. Personal suffering is, by definition, immediate. It can be hard to look past the paltry balance in your bank account or the feeling of not belonging in your own life and see where power structures in society benefit you. You don’t personally feel empowered and no one has ever taught you how think critically about society — especially when you might feel uncomfortable about the results — so it’s easy to say ‘I’ve had it hard’. You can think about that one black president we had and say ‘See, if he can do it..” And you can’t imagine anything or anyone having experiences that don’t line up with the way you’ve encountered the world, so the answer to everything becomes ‘but I’m oppressed too!”
If you’re a conservative, you’ll frame this as ‘people need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and work hard’ or ‘you liberals can’t shut me up just because my opinion is unpopular.”
If you’re a liberal, it becomes ‘I don’t see race. And if we keep perpetuating the idea that race matters, we’ll never move beyond it’ or ‘my friends are (oppressed minority group) so I know what it’s like’.