Barriers to access come from systemic oppression

The lens of systemic oppression is a lens we intentionally employ to sharpen our focus on the ways in which any given form of oppression (race, gender, class, language, sexual orientation, etc) may be negatively impacting people’s ability to make progress on the things they care about and/or preventing individual or collective action toward the achievement of a particular goal.

National Equity Project. “Lens of Systemic Oppression.” National Equity Project. National Equity Project. Accessed June 5, 2021.

Oppression = Power + Prejudice

Systemic oppression is discrimination carried out by institutions or across social, cultural, and economic structures.

Folks can experience systematic oppression in various ways. These can include attitudinal, bureaucratic, physical, and societal discrimination.

Systemic oppression is created by the four types working together to create various forms of oppression.

Some examples of attitudinal oppression include ignorance, fear, and hate; stereotyping, discrimination, prejudice, and stigma.

Some examples of bureaucratic oppression include laws and rules, policies and procedures.

Some examples of physical oppression include the structural environment, “medical restraint,” nation-state borders, and incarceration.

Some examples of societal oppression include lack of support for education and jobs, workshop wages, and the likelihood of abuse.

Some examples of groups that experience systemic oppression are groups related to:

  • age
  • carer and parental status
  • disability (including physical, sensory and intellectual disability, work-related injury, medical conditions, and mental, psychological and learning disabilities)
  • economic class
  • employment activity
  • gender identity
  • marital and relationship status
  • physical features
  • political belief or activity
  • pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • race (including color, nationality, ethnicity, and ethnic origin)
  • religious belief and activity
  • sex
  • sexual orientation
  • social class