Karens are well known for their music and storytelling, drawing much acclaim from early Christian missionaries for its similarities with Biblical texts.
Karens produce handwoven clothing, blankets and shoulder bags using natural or dyed thread on small looms. Karen villages live in houses made from bamboo and wood perched on stilts; eating jungle foods while being animists who believe they must make offerings to natural spirits.
1. You’re Entitled
Over the past several years, Karen has become a meme associated with white women who act in an aggressive or entitled manner, even making its way into Oxford Dictionary of English Slang. When this term first emerged is unclear but likely rose with social media usage or via memes such as that which depicted one gamer as “antisocial Karen.”
Some speculate that the Karen trend has been driven by online media’s focus on women who act poorly, which may account for its limited appeal among men or other races. Others suggest misogyny as another explanation.
This term has become popular within the Black community as a means of criticizing clueless white women who use their privilege to attack Black people over imagined slights, thereby sparking outrage from many members who use this meme against such women.
MERAJI: This project seeks to empower Black people by giving them the power to identify white women who act inappropriately; when Karen acts up, for instance, they can be called out and perhaps make amends or even apologize.
GRIGSBY BATES: However, that isn’t always the case. In some instances, white women who call the police on black children selling lemonade in Central Park often do not apologize and instead justify their actions due to racism she sees everywhere in society.
Therefore, this type of Karen can have the opposite of what was intended – actually giving more power to racists in our society.
2. You’re Angry
Although the Karen meme has long been around, its use has increased significantly amid the coronavirus pandemic. “Karen” refers to a specific kind of white woman engaging in self-serving or racist behaviors – often using her privilege sarcastically – or making demands. This term often serves as a mockery against people making demands or using it snarkily.
There’s no one-to-one correlation between the Karen meme and its origin on Reddit in 2014 and where it began; and its image depicting an angry middle-aged female wearing glasses who demands money back from grocery store manager with an asymmetrical bob and spiky hairdo demanding her money.
2020 saw an explosion in popularity for the Karen meme due to the Central Park Karen incident and subsequent protests against police violence, leading many to connect racism against Karens with systemic police oppression.
Karens are people who believe they have an absolute right to express their opinion without accepting criticism or feedback, often being inconsiderate and rude in doing so. A Karen may call the cops on Black bird-watchers or complain about children selling water in stores without permits – sometimes even fighting over parking spots or wait times at restaurants!
Some have condemned the Karen meme for being derogatory and even toxic, while others see it as another tool to combat racism and misogyny. No matter if it comes from real life or as a meme – their actions need to be highlighted.
3. You’re a Racist
Karen has become a pejorative term to refer to an upper middle-class white woman who engages in racist microaggressions. These types of customers demand to speak to a manager when asked to wear a COVID-19 mask; or call police when someone leans against their car – two behaviors often associated with racist behaviours.
Meredith Clark, an associate professor and researcher on digital culture at Georgia Tech, claims Karen made its debut during the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent calls for racial justice in 2020. While terms like Miss Ann or Becky had long existed before its appearance as a pejorative term for white people, Karen has quickly become a symbol for a certain group of white individuals.
Clark notes that names like Miss Ann and Becky often represent stereotypes rooted in sexist beliefs; she contends, however, that Karen represents more the way white people use their privilege to keep people of color subservient.
Sun, who hails from Philadelphia and is 23-years old, concurs with Clark that racism lies at the root of the Karen meme. Additionally, her experience being called Karen has left her feeling defensive — even though it is only meant as a joke — because it feels like her identity has been targeted and dialogue around race and social justice is less likely. Unfortunately, this slur makes people less inclined to discuss important topics like race and social justice; which poses an ongoing problem as new memes take shape and take on meaning; it is essential we all engage in honest dialogue on issues related to race and social justice that matters now more than ever so that honest conversations occur regarding issues important for everyone concerned – otherwise known as Karen meme.
4. You’re a Troll
No matter whether you insist on wearing a mask in public or believe everyone should adhere to quarantine measures, chances are you fit the profile of being known as Karen. Since 2020 when Karen became part of a popular meme depicting an angry white woman acting out against perceived slights against them, many have used its name in reference to such individuals as themselves.
This meme spread amid rising political, racial, and health tensions related to the coronavirus pandemic. A series of viral videos depicted white women engaging in acts seen as self-serving or racist; for example the mayor of Las Vegas who called on casinos to reopen despite warnings that doing so could ignite further crises; an anti-vaxxer who called police on a Black man selling water in Central Park for selling it without an order from central government – these were examples.
Karens aren’t alone when it comes to being mocked through memes; other “basic white names,” like Kyle, Becky and Stacy have all been used similarly in similar posts mocking people engaging in these stereotyped behaviors. Karen is especially targeted though because her name has become closely associated with middle-class white female stereotypes of moralistism and social control among middle class white female stereotypes.
Karen, who works in media industry, tells CNN she hasn’t experienced being called Karen herself professionally, though it has happened with friends and family members. Although this meme is meant as light-hearted fun, it makes her uncomfortable nonetheless.
Though many Karens seem comfortable with the meme, others worry that its usage has turned it into a derogatory term for white women. Some observers speculate whether misogyny may have played into its adoption; others note that using “Karen” as a slur helps negate systemic racism altogether.
5. You’re a Sexist
Karen is an offensive name that’s become a pop culture stereotype of an entitled white woman who behaves rudely in public. Although Karen had long existed before 2016, when the “antisocial Karen” Nintendo meme popularized it further by framing her as a socially awkward gamer who prefers staying home alone and playing video games than engaging with other people.
2020 saw further adoption of this term during an age of political and racial unrest and coronavirus pandemic, when viral videos depicted white women engaging in what some critics considered selfish or racist behaviors – such as Central Park Karen who falsely reported a black birdwatcher to police; “coughing Karen,” who upset customers at a bagel shop; as well as Portland protest movements where members have been described as anti-vaxxers or even rude.
No one knows for certain why “middle-aged white women” has come to be associated with sexist entitlement, but one theory suggests it could be shorthand used on social media as a form of shorthand for communication purposes. According to Dr. I.M. Nick’s theory, users frequently shorten and abbreviate their names for greater efficiency – this may explain how and why “midlife white woman” became such an offensive term over time.
The Karen meme’s rise in popularity has raised concerns over its sexism and racism, as well as whether its pejorative connotations is appropriate for such a common name. Unfortunately, its usage will likely continue as long as media reports emphasize an image of an entitled white female who gets upset easily over trivial matters.