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Black folks have been in a long-term, abusive relationship with the United States of America. Like any romantic relationship, it’s had its peaks but it’s also had a hell of a lot of valleys, mainly because the relationship is deeply rooted in ill-intentioned narcissism, dominance, toxicity and abuse.

Throughout it all, gaslighting has been a continuous tactic used by the powers that be. We’ve all heard of the term “gaslighting” in regards to romantic relationships. It’s a kind of psychological abuse that involves intentional manipulation of situations that cause confusion and doubt. The term is based on the 1944 movie ‘Gaslight’. The film chronicles a husband who slowly manipulates situations in order to make his wife question her sanity. He does things to twist her perception, like lying, moving items around their home, making her think she is forgetful, knocking on walls so that she thinks she’s hearing things and even dimming the gaslights. The wife is made to feel like she is delusional and he slowly drives her to insanity.

In essence, gaslighting is about power and control. In the relationship between Black people and the U.S., there has been a constant and intentional struggle for dominance, from slavery to lack of civil rights to oppression and systemic racism, which still impacts Black people today, over 400 years after the first slaves arrived. It’s a toxic relationship characterized by lies, denial, deflecting and overall manipulation.

Other examples include the perceived abolition of slavery (even though it continued until June 19, 1865), school integration, affirmative action, welfare, redline housing and predatory lending. Time after time, Black people have been re-victimized all while being told we are united, “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” We’ve been duped, manipulated and mindfucked at the hands of the United States of America. Even during the seeming “honeymoon phase” — having Barack Obama in office for eight years.

Fast forward to the present day and “All Lives Matter” has become the ultimate attempt to gaslight Black America. But we see through it, as we have for decades. We know that the injustice of police brutality toward Black people is why we hold steadfast to Black Lives Matter. We know that we deserve justice and equality. The White House resident is perhaps the biggest culprit, with his constant lies, denial, manipulation and attempts to divert attention away from his poor leadership and criminal acts.

Our toxic relationship has been a long and systematic attempt to weaken our defenses, our spirits and to slowly chip away at our sanity. If the United States were a spouse, we Black people would surely need a divorce.

While we continue to sustain our mental health while fighting for justice and reform, one thing is for sure: we will not be gaslighted any more.