Ignorance literally means “without knowledge.” People often get offended by that word, which usually means they don’t actually understand the meaning. Which is their own fault. Nobody stopped them from cracking open a dictionary or checking out dictionary.com to find the true meaning of the word.
Ignorance is a choice. Being ignorant about a particular topic, in 2016, is a choice. Topics that matter, not just random factoids. Disabilities, depression, sexism, racism, feminism, homophobia, intersectionality, mass incarceration, rape victims, rape culture, transphobia, economic disparities. The thing is, you can jump online at any given moment and find information about any one of these topics – every day. Not just from experts observing them from the outside, but also from those who are within those domains.
The information is free, and there is so much of it. And if you can’t find that information, you can always find someone who will point you in the right direction. When it comes to being aware of something, you don’t really have an excuse anymore.
But some people still play their ignorance as something they don’t choose. Like someone stopped them from knowing something. They had to be obvlious against their will. Which is bullshit. Inaction is just as much of a choice as action is. Not doing something is still making a choice. Not knowing something is still making a choice.
Now, when it comes to knowing calculus – nobody is going to hold your feet to the fire and criticize you for not knowing that, unless it’s part of your job/profession, for example. When it has bigger ramifications for others around you, it becomes a problem. When your ignorance can affect more than just you, it becomes a problem.
A rape victim can have any number of experiences after the assault. They’re not all going to react the same way. That kind of sexual, physical, emotional and sexual abuse will affect everyone differently. If you don’t know that, that’s not their fault. That’s your fault. If they confide in you, tell you that they were assaulted and they’re not hysterically crying and making their pain blatantly obvious, and because of that, you think that they’re lying…that’s only because of your lack of ignorance. That’s only because you don’t understand how trauma such as this can affect people in so many different ways and there is no real way to predict how someone will act and behave in a situation like this.
This actually happens to people, all the time. Nobody believes them when they say they were raped. Because those other people are completely ignorant, and have no idea what rape victims actually go through, mentally and emotionally. So, if you’re involving yourself in something, and making a decision that can affect someone’s life – you better be sure you understand the circumstance, and every aspect of it. It’s important.
So your lack of ignorance is absolutely a choice that you are making. The choice to not properly educate yourself. That is no one’s fault but your own, and it’s no one’s responsibility to teach this to you. It is solely the responsibility of the individual to educate themselves. People have been conditioned to think that it is not their responsibility. We’ve been conditioned to think that it’s okay to be ignorant, and put the blame on something or someone else.
If one does not understand Black Lives Matter, your wilful ignorance is your own fault. “We can’t expect people to know certain things, that’s just not how the world works.” Because we allow it to work that way, by making statements such as that. Stop doing that, and we can break that cycle.