The Karens have been karening for a few years now, but this is the year they neurotically karened into the spotlight.
Disclaimer: Webster’s Dictionary does not recognize Karen, or any of the above-mentioned uses, as adjectives or verbs, but unofficially, let me paint the picture.
Rude, white, obnoxious, middle-aged, demanding, insufferable, racist, privileged, often sporting an asymmetrical haircut. They often travel in packs and have a shrill, loud candor. The Karens often use their privilege to demand their own way at the expense of others. They have diligently become an oppressive force in this nation, so why do they feel like the victim?
My first encounter with a Karen was when I was a cashier at Target, their motherland. To a Karen, I was everything she could stomp over: Mexican, soft-spoken, nice. A pack of Karens decided to claim my Target as their territory (think any L.A. gang movie). On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays they will march into the store, walking in slow-motion like that launch scene from Armageddon. They would pack their carts with an array of random items, and then expected to pay just a few dollars by using coupons. Listen, I appreciate a good deal as much as the next guy, but I’m not gonna yell, humiliate, and cheat my way into savings. These women would bring their often expired, photocopied coupons and would immediately demand to speak to a manager if a cashier would dare to defy them. The worst about part of it all, they would use their manipulative powers to intimidate management into accepting their demands. The smug smiles and smirks they would give me when the manager would give in, still haunt me to this day. “I don’t know why you won’t just do your job and scan the coupons, it’s not like they’re taking it from your paycheck!” The comments would continue until I would load up their carts for only $3.74.
My experience with Karens is actually not as terrible as other stories we’ve seen. We have all heard of cases of where a Karen feels threatened by a black man’s proximity. We have all seen stories where a Karen yells at a Latinx asking them to “go back to their country” for speaking Spanish at a gas station. A Karen called the cops on an 8-year old girl selling water bottles from her porch for fucks sake. But instead of taking accountability, the Karens took twitter to claim victimhood.
But wait, let’s analyze, is Karen a slur?
Is calling someone a Karen, racist and sexist?
Are asymmetrical haircuts back in style?
The answer to all those questions is a big, fat, resounding NO. To compare the connotation anointed to Karen to that of a racial slur, further demonstrates the privilege that exudes from the Karens. In this country, white women are often believed and protected at all costs, even at the expense of black lives. In 2020, we somehow still live in a time where people of color are being arrested or assaulted because a white woman called the police unnecessarily. The context of using Karen as an adjective or a verb is to emphasize the ridiculous notion that white women are STILL using their privilege for their own benefit rather than the communal greater good.
The term Karen will continue to arise in situations of injustice until white women fully acknowledge, understand, and correct their narrative. It is until the Karens start to use their privilege to amplify black voices, rather than suppressing them, that they will be able to reclaim the term. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be happening any time soon. For now, it is our duty to continue to expose and call-out Karen behavior. We will not normalize privilege, racism, or demanding attitudes. We will intervene when witnessing an abusive Karen situation. And finally, we will not let our friends get asymmetrical haircuts, it’s all a slippery slope.
Now, can we speak to the manager of systemic racism?