Sustaining Systemic Racism Through Psychological Gaslighting: Denials of Racial Profiling and Justifications of Carding by Police Utilizing Local News Media Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • This article examines Police Services and local media discourses on street checks in Hamilton, Ontario, from June 2015 to April 2016 and their usage as a form of psychological abuse known as gaslighting. Despite the widespread coverage that the Hamilton Police Service received as a result of being linked to systemic racist practices, a year later, the Hamilton Police Service was able to avoid being implicated in deliberately conducting racial profiling through strategic tactics in the discourse they relied upon and presented in the media. Through an analysis of 27 local news media articles on the topic of street checks, it is argued that the Police Services and local media discourse enact gaslighting, a form of psychological abuse that is used to manipulate object(s) in order to deceive and undermine the credibility of the target. The psychological effects of gaslighting on people of color included a sense of alienation, disenfranchisement from the community, and distrust toward the police. Through a case study application, it is suggested that gaslighting is part of a systemic, historical process of racism that has been used by the police and government organizations to both illegally target people of color and deny complicity in racial profiling.

publication date

  • October 2020