As a woman of colour, racial gaslighting has been a painful experience that many people like me have had to deal with at some point in our lives.
You may already be familiar with the term gaslighting, which is a form of psychological abuse.
This was defined after the 1944 film Gaslight, a thriller about a young woman whose husband slowly tries to convince her she’s going insane.
However, racial gaslighting is related specifically to psychological abuse surrounding racism.
Racial gaslighting often comes about when a victim is led to doubt and question their own sense of reality with regard to racism, says Seattle University’s Angelique Davis, who’s carried out a lot of research on the subject.
“Abusers will make them question their own judgement through victim blaming, policing their tone of voice, denial, dismissiveness and manipulation.”
Angelique says that some of the techniques used to racially gaslight include: countering someone’s memory of events, withholding “understanding” or refusing to listen, conveniently “forgetting” or denying that something happened, playing down a person’s feelings as unimportant or irrational, diverting to focus on credibility of what someone is saying and victim blaming.