There is a growing anti-racist movement against racist Karens. This comes in response to recent events which demonstrate the persistence of racism.
It is an age-old practice, but has become more widespread during the coronavirus pandemic. People are refusing to wear face coverings, not adhering to quarantine orders and generally dismissing it as “overblown”.
1. Aunt Karen
Karen meme, a fictional character that appeared in 2017, has been used to mock middle-class white women who exhibit behaviors indicative of privilege. These include demanding to “speak to the manager” or belittling service industry workers, being anti-vaccination and engaging in racist microaggressions.
But as Black Lives Matter protests erupted during the pandemic, “Karen” became an increasingly potent symbol of white supremacy and sexism, prompting many people to reconsider its meaning. Furthermore, this shift coincided with an uptick in social policing around the disease which further compounded class tensions.
Some of these incidents were captured on cell phone cameras and posted to social media, revealing a range of unsavoury activities. One woman complained about a young water-seller, while another called the police on a family of black people at a barbecue.
These videos sparked a wave of articles and social media posts condemning the actions of these middle class, entitled women. They were labeled things like “Permit Patty” and “BBQ Becky.”
Aunt Karen, a TikToker by the name of Aunt Karen, is using her platform to expose racism within Facebook groups that promote white lives matter and other anti-Black messages. In a video that has been viewed more than 240,000 times, the Black influencer says she’s “infiltrating” these organizations and dismantling their structures.
Her mission, as she explains in the video, is to “dismantle these groups and stop this hate and fear that’s being created.”
Bradley said she first encountered racism while walking with her grandmother on their way to preschool. She remembered a man rolling down his window and calling her the N-word.
She then changed her name to Aunt Karen, which she describes as a more mature and older name that reflects her age. At first, she used social media platforms to post humorous photos and videos; however, over time her focus shifted toward racial justice issues and social injustice.
Her work has gained attention as her TikTok videos have been viewed over 1.5 million times. According to her YouTube page, she is actively working to infiltrate and dismantle Facebook groups that promote white lives matter and other anti-white sentiment. Until then, she hopes to inspire people to be more conscious of how their words and deeds may impact others.
2. Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a movement that has gained national prominence and become an influential component in American politics since its inception. It began as a hashtag after George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the 2012 shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.
This movement, which advocates against police brutality and racially motivated violence against black people, has seen widespread support among both black and white adults. Eight out of ten U.S. adults say the Black Lives Matter movement has had an impact on their lives – with 86% saying it significantly contributed to how they feel about how things are going in their country.
In addition to their racial concerns, many BLM activists have expressed the wish for the movement to include all groups affected by discrimination and oppression. As a result, they have been at the forefront of protests against racism and violence against minorities.
Though some critics have questioned if the movement is being misled by its slogan, it has largely achieved success in pressing for change. For instance, it has resulted in changes to how police are funded and treated.
Many cities are shifting their budgets away from police services and towards areas like schools and housing. This has also led to the removal of statues commemorating people connected to slavery.
Therefore, it’s essential to comprehend what has made the Black Lives Matter movement so successful. One major reason is its ability to bring together both black and white people.
Leaders of the movement argue that it is an extension of the civil rights movement which previously championed black freedom. However, they have taken a much broader and more inclusive view of liberty; believing it’s time to address discrimination, racial prejudice, and systematic racism that continues to negatively impact black communities around the world.
3. The Anti-Karen Movement
In the United States, an increasing number of white women are speaking out against systemic racism they experience. They’re organizing diversity panels, reading anti-racist literature and even attending Black Lives Matter protests to voice their opposition.
They’re also starting a campaign to demolish statues of male enslavers and colonizers, holding other white people accountable for their own racial oppression.
One of the most notable manifestations of this trend is the Karen phenomenon. Videos showing middle-class, mostly white women losing their temper in stores and airplanes have been racking up tens of millions of views online for months on end.
These viral clips of so-called “Karens” are typically marked by their unreasonable demands, such as demanding to speak with the manager when it’s not their place. Sometimes these clips include tears which some social commentators interpret as signs of anger and rage.
Some who study these viral incidents contend they demonstrate an explicit form of white racism, or the “othering” of people of color. They point to instances where people of color are being excluded from neighborhood committees or white bosses are overlooking them for promotion opportunities.
Many white women are taking to social media to voice their complaints against racist Karens. One California woman posted a photo of herself defacing an iconic Black Lives Matter street symbol with the message, “I’m a Karen.”
One Twitter user advocated for a new label that puts emphasis on an individual’s actions rather than their name or profession. Critics argue this move has become too broad-based.
It’s a risky practice that could dilute the meaning of this term, similar to how some have repurposed the “black squares” hashtag as an attempt to demonstrate solidarity with Black Lives Matter activists while neglecting to include important details.
However, the Karen meme has taken on a life of its own and is no longer just about racial oppression. It’s about using middle class white women’s privilege to gain an advantage over others.
4. The Black Anti-Karen Movement
Karens, as Slate describes them, have become a racial scapegoat for many Black Americans. The term is used to degrade privileged white women who assert moral authority over others while disingenuously portraying themselves as victims in public.
The term is often associated with the shocking birdwatching incident of 2020 in Central Park, when a White woman called police on an unarmed Black man trying to enjoy some peace and serenity. This incident ignited the Black Anti-Karen movement, which seeks to deconstruct and deflate this obscenely racist trope and its implications for America’s future.
Since then, there have been numerous other incidents involving Karens that have made headlines around the world. These include a woman calling the police on her neighbor for painting “Black Lives Matter” with chalk, a White man filming nonviolent protesters at Chipotle restaurant, and an unknown white woman breaking into a Black delivery driver’s mailbox to steal a package – all part of what has become known as “Karenmania.”
The resurgence of these viral videos serves to demonstrate how deeply entrenched race and class tensions in America are. They serve as reminders that social structures and systems of racial inequality shape what people believe to be acceptable behavior in public spaces.
Williams recently spoke at Berkman Klein about how the Karen meme has become such a prominent symbol in today’s political landscape. She contends that its rise can be linked to social policing during the Covid-19 pandemic, further complicating the relationship between class and power within society.
At this critical juncture in America’s history, the pandemic’s spread and its consequences for millions of people caused some societal tensions to flare up. The crisis brought to the fore class-based issues which had been largely neglected in previous years.
Karens have found it increasingly difficult to get away with their misguided acts, making the situation all the more tumultuous for Black Americans who have long been treated as second-class citizens by white Americans.