Why to understand
Understanding the tools arrayed against us is a survival necessity. The burden is always the actual oppression, followed by the feeling of insufficiency at not succeeding.
Imagine if you were robbed everyday and didn’t understand why you were poor. You work just as hard or harder and get paid less and limited if any promotion. You pay the same as anyone else but get less healthcare for the same plan. You pay taxes as much as anyone else, but the services go to other communities. You’re robbed everyday. And you think you just need to work harder. You wonder what’s wrong with you. You stand twice as upright, morally, and are still punished, while others act out of line and are rewarded socially.
Once you understand that you’re being robbed, you’re still stuck with less, but you’re not questioning and doubting your ability and ethic. You start having a chance to turn the frustration, from inward, towards real sources. You stop trying to waste time pleasing those who can’t be pleased. And you talk to others to help them also see what’s going on - maybe together, enough people can change it. But only if they see it.
Why not to understand
Then there’s the people who benefit and uphold the oppression.
Most people understand this concept: “Good people don’t do bad things to good people”. The brainwashing, the systemic conditioning, the socialized version of narcissism and sociopathy, works by giving folks exceptions to that statement - “Well, those people aren’t good people. Well, they aren’t people, actually”, “It’s not really a bad thing, when you do it to them.”
After that point, basically any push for equal rights, for dismantling the system of oppression, of stopping the robbery, well… it means having to face up to both the history, the pervasiveness, the cruelty and violence of a society built on harming some to benefit others. And that you, personally, got some benefit along the way and either personally did some robbing or helped protect those who did.
You’re not a good person anymore. Or your parents. Or the people around you. Or your heroes.
And, because letting go of the idea “Those people aren’t people so it’s ok to do those things to them”, they don’t understand equality. It doesn’t mean, “Actually, treat everyone with this level of rights”, for them, it means automatically “Everyone gets to get abused and treated like shit.”
Which also says a lot about their understanding of how humanity can work - the default assumption is that harm MUST be done, period. And that this is how societies MUST exist.
When the every level of understanding society, family, love, and self worth is tied in some part to violence and dehumanization, that’s a LOT of investment. The depth of socialized hate, masqueraded as “normal”, means there’s a lot of motivation to not understanding.
And, while they may not “consciously” recognize it, they work overtime to shut down the conversations we have because it threatens everything they’re trying to protect. It’s both the benefits and the world view of goodness, even as they continue robbing.