The term “Karen” has become an insulting derogatory for middle-aged white women who demonstrate their entitlement by insisting on speaking to their managers. Critics have labeled this label sexist, ageist and classist.
It has also been linked to anti-vaccination, calling the police on Black people and other racial micro-aggressions. It has become increasingly popular online due to the coronavirus pandemic and protests for racial justice.
1. Rude Karen Calls the Police on a Black Neighbor
One of the iconic social media characters has been Karen, a woman who defies authority. Often seen on videos posted to Twitter, Facebook US:FB or Instagram, Karens tend to take themselves too seriously and become upset when things don’t go their way.
But the viral nature of these stories has also fuelled a new form of racism that persists today. Much of the anger displayed in these videos stems from economic disenfranchisement and an overwhelming sense of insecurity. Furloughs, layoffs and stress caused by lockdowns have only added to Karens and Kens’ feelings like they’ve been left behind.
These incidents of racism, in addition to the everyday harassment and discrimination people of color face in neighborhoods, workplaces and schools, have contributed to these tragedies. According to Lillian Glass – a communications and body language expert who has studied this phenomenon – “othering” makes it easier for white socio-economic power structures in America.”
She notes that people of color often experience racism in similar ways to how White Americans do. It can take the form of systemic racism, such as when a neighborhood committee ignores someone of color for promotion or an employer fails to give a raise to a Black employee.
Some have, however, suggested these cases aren’t necessarily connected to race but instead reflect larger issues like job loss caused by the coronavirus and fears about becoming sick in a country where health care has been rationed.
Other people, however, believe the resentment these Karens and Kens exhibit is due to an intensely stressful era of political change. Glass notes that Trump’s presidency has brought economic hardship and a sense of hopelessness to many Americans; she further notes how furloughs, layoffs and the return of Black Lives Matter have created a climate in which many Karens and Kens feel threatened.
According to Dr. Smith, the sexual element in these viral videos should also be taken into account. White women who get involved tend to make more headlines than men do; though both genders can experience meltdowns while shopping or flying. Furthermore, women tend to be more visible online and opt for recording themselves and sharing them with the world.
2. Rude Karen Calls the Police on a White Neighbor
Recent videos showing a white neighbor calling the police on her Black neighbor serve as a stark reminder of how difficult living in America can be for people of color, even if it seems like just an isolated incident. While it may appear that this behavior stems from deeper issues such as stress or mental health problems, such as racism and prejudice, these behaviors often signify larger structural issues.
This video is just one example of a recent trend where bystanders have called the police on people of color for seemingly minor matters. A South Carolina woman made headlines in June for shouting at a group of black teenagers at a pool party, for example.
Karen may not be the first to call the police on a White neighbor, but it does mark an interesting trend that could continue into 2020. Unfortunately, these racially charged social media videos seem to get worse each day as we head into 2020.
This trend has even spawned its own subreddit, r/F—YouKaren, which is dedicated to hatred of “Karen,” according to Know Your Meme. Launched in 2017, this subreddit boasts over 600,000 members.
These “Karen” videos have received a great deal of attention, yet they also leave some people confused as to their meaning. Some suggest these videos represent toxic female hysteria while others speculate that they represent an obsession with how women misbehave when faced with patriarchal stereotypes and privilege. Whatever the case may be, viewers seem intrigued by this bizarre fascination with misbehaving women in the presence of patriarchy and privilege.
Some believe these instances serve to shed some much needed light on a situation they have observed on television or in the news. These videos have the power to expose those who violate people of color’s right to be safe at home.
It is essential to remember that these videos and memes are an outlet for people to vent their frustrations with the system or someone in authority. Furthermore, these videos have the potential to change policies, providing accountability to those who engage in discriminatory or harmful behaviors.
3. Rude Karen Calls the Police on a Black Neighbor
In an age of mass furloughs, layoffs and the stress caused by COVID-19, it’s no surprise people are losing their cool in public. According to Lillian Glass – a Los Angeles-based communication and body language expert – some incidents may be more due to personal financial troubles combined with the reemergence of Black Lives Matter than any underlying issues.
Last summer, two White New Jersey residents named Fareed Nassor Hayat and Norrinda Brown Hayat began construction on a backyard patio in their Montclair neighborhood. A neighbor who saw their progress called the police to demand that they obtain permission.
These incidents aren’t the only Karen-like incidents to go viral on social media, but they’re the most infamous. Due to their shocking nature, these have caused both online and in real life backlash.
Some view them as an expression of white privilege and an attempt to maintain the status quo, particularly in neighborhoods with predominantly white populations. On the other hand, some view them as forms of racial profiling and harassment perpetrated by white Americans – sometimes even their own neighbors!
Racial profiling and harassment are part of what’s known as “othering,” the practice of separating White people from people of color. This form of racism permeates every aspect of everyday life – from workplaces to college campuses and businesses.
Karen-like behavior may include calling the police on a black person who parks in an assigned spot or asserting Asian Americans brought the coronavirus to America. When someone who calls on their neighbors for such actions, they often face worldwide condemnation as well as financial and professional repercussions.
Karen-like incidents became widely publicized a few months ago when Amy Cooper called the police on a Black man watching birds in Central Park. While she was eventually held accountable, it remains unclear what compelled her to act this way.
4. Rude Karen Calls the Police on a White Neighbor
If you’ve ever browsed the internet, chances are you’ve encountered plenty of humorous memes about Rude Karens Gone Wrong. These typically depict white women behaving inappropriately, rudely, or sexistly.
An example of this is when a Karen calls the police on someone of color for something that doesn’t involve any actual crime. These videos often go viral, with the Karen receiving public shame and criticism.
Though videos usually depict white people acting rudely, some Karens also engage in acts of racism. Not only is this behavior hurtful to those involved but it can have detrimental effects on business and professional opportunities as well.
Last summer in Montclair, N.J., a woman known as “Pool Party Karen” called the police on a Black family for cutting their lawn. This incident went viral and is one of many highly publicized instances where bystanders have called police on people of color for seemingly minor offenses.
These incidents are part of a larger pattern of discrimination and harassment that has permeated American society. Black Americans in particular have been the targets of racial profiling and disproportionate police violence.
At a time when many white women are feeling entitled and resentful, these viral videos can be particularly infuriating. They serve as reminders of the sexism, racism, and power dynamics that have been built up over generations in America.
Matt Schimkowitz, a senior editor at Know Your Meme, believes the origin of Karen is an internet joke about a woman with hairstyle that read “speak to the manager.”
In 2014, “Karen” made her first appearance on Reddit and quickly went viral. As a result, the term “Karen” has become widely used as an umbrella term for any woman perceived to be acting inappropriately or disrespectfully.
Some might argue that viral videos and memes are necessary, while others argue the focus on white women over white men is sexist. They note that people of color often face racial profiling – an entirely different issue than calling the cops on a white neighbor who is simply going about their day.