“Racelighting is like gaslighting but when gaslighting is racial.”
Dr. Luke Wood, vice president of Student Affairs & Campus Diversity at San Diego State, presented the new concept of racelighting to CFA faculty members during this year’s Equity Conference.
Like gaslighting, it’s a psychological manipulation stemming from microaggressions.
Wood defines racelighting as the process whereby people of color question their own thoughts and actions due to systemically delivered racialized messages that make them second guess their own lived experiences with racism.
This session discusses how racelighting consistently manifests in the daily experiences of Black, Indigenous people, and other people of color.
What precedes racelighting surfaces in many forms – white supremacy, white nationalism, white fragility, anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, and capitalistic interests – turning into explicit or implicit bias, forming into microaggressions, and then racelighting, says Wood. Those who deal with racelighting often face racial battle fatigue, stereotype threat, and imposter syndrome.
“When you think about the accumulation of microaggressions in the environment and how that can make you feel, even the direct exchange of someone who you brought an issue to their attention and they begin to push it down, you begin to say to yourself ‘maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m not smart enough. Maybe I’m not good enough. Maybe I don’t belong here.’” said Wood during his presentation. “It’s that doubt, that disorientation. That’s racelighting.”
This session highlights the way that racelighting is evident in the experiences of students, faculty, and staff of color, and brings forward strategies that can be used to reduce the effect of racelighting on people of color.
The video is available here.