Written by Nicole
Social media has awakened many movements for black women. Comment sections, secret groups, and private events have been set up as a means for like-minded black women to share advice, experiences, or even vent. But like everything else on the Internet, nothing is completely safe from prying eyes. And when it comes to comment sections that is open to anyone, it can quickly devolve into a free-for-all.
In no time flat, there will be comments seeking to sow discord, maintain the abysmal status quo, and discredit black women’s experiences in a single keystroke. These gaslighting tactics can come from anywhere, but primarily erupt from black males seeking to make sure the bar is firmly wedged between Satan’s asscheeks, and other black women, who are so male-identified that they are willing to abandon their very womanhood to get online validation from stranger black dudes on the internet. Here are just a few of the common ones, and what I see when I read it.
Translation: We are incapable of doing more than one thing at a time so your issues will have to take a perpetual backseat.
Most recently, in the wake of the murder that took place in Minneapolis earlier this year, black women seized the opportunity to shine a light on our own murders happening too, yet get none of the widespread media attention. People, particularly black men, were quick to lob this gaslight out, along with the sister gaslight of “you’re being divisive!”.
Response: It will never be a good time to center yourself, demand justice, or hold abusers accountable. Do it anyway.
Translation: Your problems and issues will never be the priority.
The gaslight here is that your problem, by default is the smaller one. We see this frequently, whenever black women’s issues deign to be put first, ever. To use the previous example, black women murdered in domestic violence disputes never get the widespread media attention, though statistics say that a black woman is murdered every 19 hours. Black women pointed this out alongside the Minneapolis murder, but were hushed and shushed because their issues are simply not the priority.
Response: Your problems will never be seen as a priority to wider society. So prioritize them yourself, and refuse to shrink yourself because other people don’t think it’s “as important”.
Translation: Calling out highly visible issues within the community is obviously coming from a place of pain, rather than having functioning eyes.
The fact that the immediate response to valid criticisms is to blame some past hurt is very telling. First, it implies that someone did the hurting, right? So how come so many black women have this shared hurt in the first place? And who is the common denominator doing the hurting?
Response: Any kind of accountability is going to be seen as an assault of the highest degree. Hold them accountable anyway, and make moves in your own life that prevents you from getting “hurt” in the first place.
Translation: I don’t want to acknowledge my explicit or implicit roles in the issue you are bringing to people’s attention, so I will call you crazy so no one believes you.
It’s funny how therapy and black mental health just started picking up steam as a genuine issue in the community…only for it to be weaponized as a reason for…well, anything. You can say something relatively innocuous, or something straight up inflammatory, and the comment section will be ablaze with detractors demanding you seek mental help. And while yes, I do agree that more black folks should seek professional help, calling out problematic trends and themes in the community in a comment section is not necessarily the impetus to look up psychiatrists in your area.
Response: You’re not crazy. The problems you’ve witnessed or personally encountered might have triggered something in you where therapy would be useful, but pointing out the behavior in and of itself isn’t a sign of deteriorating mental health.
Translation: I’m all good, so fuck you and your problems!
Out of all the gaslights on this list, this one is most likely to be deployed by a fellow black woman. She is fortunate and privileged enough to have Good Black Men in her life, and despite numerous black women stating their own lived experiences as the opposite, this gaslighter might feel like there’s something wrong with them, rather than her own privilege. Because she found the unicorn, those other women who haven’t simply must be doing something wrong.
Response: Ask why the community looks the way it does, despite the preponderance of Good Black Men in comment sections. Online comment sections would have you believe there are Good Black Men raining down from the sky, and yet every single statistic shows that not to be the case. If you’re feeling particularly bold, you could ask if she was willing to share her unicorn find, since her constant praise of him is akin to advertising his services.
Translation: Any expectation of accountability is foreign to me so I will counter with an emotional response rather than address your concerns.
Again, expecting or demanding black men to be held accountable for their role in the community’s appearance is hate. This particular gaslight is just an emotional response from stunted individuals.
Response: Ask why accountability is seen as a personal attack to them. You can also include a gif of a hit dog hollering.
Translation: Despite years of chronic, constant mistreatment, you should not let that affect you, otherwise your anger will be used against you.
Without fail, “bitter” is a word that has gained increased use to describe women in general. Rather than “baby mama”, it has evolved into “bitter baby mama”. The sister gaslight to this is “that’s why you’re single!”/”alone”/”don’t have a man”. This implies that even if you have been mistreated, you should just brush it off immediately. Meanwhile atrocities from centuries ago are still valid excuses for any and every failure.
Response: Ask why so many black women share similar experiences across the spectrum, and why out of all the range of emotions, black women are not allowed to feel anything remotely negative.
Translation: Since the topic at hand does not affect me, it does not merit the passion you have for it.
If the spotlight ever moves to a cause that is focused on black women, there will inevitably be someone, somewhere saying it isn’t that serious. Remember that colorist rapper with the disgusting battle rap that went viral earlier this year? It was just battle rap, they said. It wasn’t that serious, they said. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of black women and girls are missing, and 60% of black girls are molested before they turn 18. It is all linked. The cause will never be “that serious” for someone who doesn’t care about it.
Response: Give them a taste of their own medicine – the next time something unfortunate happens to them or someone they support, tell them it’s not that serious.
Arguing with strangers online in social media comment sections may scratch that itch of righteous indignation, but be aware it is highly unlikely to change the opposing side’s mind. Let this be a reminder that you are not crazy, rather, the opposition you face online is part of a concerted effort to keep you silent. What other gaslights have you witnessed online?
Disclaimer: This blog was written by me, Nicole, and my ideas are not necessarily reflective of Christelyn Karazin or other writers on this platform.