Fellow White Folk: We Need to Talk About Racial Gaslighting.

Jackson Campbell
2 min readOct 10, 2023

I’ve done it. You’ve done it. It is about damn time we acknowledge the elephant in the room.

https://www.sph.umn.edu/news/measuring-structural-racism-in-minnesota-communities/

For as long as I have been White (oh wait), I have done this thing called racial gaslighting and it obviously isn’t good. You have done it, too. In fact, you’re probably doing it right now (“Are you SURE I’ve gaslighted before? Where is your PROOF?”). The problem is that most White folx don’t even realize they’re consistently gaslighting. They just claim they’re being critical and thoughtful.

A few years ago, when I really began to learn about how racism was deeply affecting communities of color, I noticed that we (White folx) almost ALWAYS make a rebuttal to Black folx when they share the ways in which White folx have done racist shit. I, of course, only realized it once I started getting the probing gaslight questions when I mentioned racism. This gaslighting, although supposedly “intellectual” or “critical,” is pretty much always a way of defending oneself and the idea that “not everything is racist.” Damn.. if I had a dime..

These rebuttals can sound a little bit like this:

“Well, what are ALL of the details?”

“Was she involved in any criminal activity before this incident?”

“I don’t want to make any generalizations or assumptions just yet.”

“Let’s look at the facts.”

“Do they have proof?”

“Just playing devil’s advocate..”

“They wouldn’t say/do that because of the color of someone’s skin.”

“I know ____ and they would never do/say that!”

The list goes on. And truth be told, you probably know when you’re getting defensive or simply want to disagree because it is about race. Check yourself. I have to all the time. I ain’t gonna lie. I have had so many moments when I heard race brought up and I wanted to roll my eyes and say “here we go.” Ya know what that is, folks? That’s the system I was raised in. I was taught to silence issues that didn’t affect me. I was taught to silence things that would ruffle the feathers of my privileged comfort zone. I was taught to shut down any conversations that would somehow “threaten” my status. It is all a part of Whiteness. None of us are exempt. Folks like me have to unlearn the defensive mechanism that we use to protect our privileged status and maintain oppression of the “other.”

Next time someone shares a fact about racism to you, don’t ask for a f*cking research study on the topic.

Next time racism is encountered, immediately combat it instead of wasting time “investigating” whether it “was” or “wasn’t” racism this time.

Next time you hear someone share their experiences with abuse,

trust them.

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