Denise Bradley, known on TikTok as Aunt Karen, continues her mission of exposing racist Facebook groups. In one recent video she successfully infiltrated “White Lives Matter 2.0.”
Within days of Bradley posting her expose, the Facebook group she had exposed had disbanded with the help of viral video. Now her goal is to uncover more fraudulent organizations.
What is Karen?
Karen is a term that refers to an overly entitled white woman who self-appoints as the gatekeeper and arbiter of other people’s behavior. This person would typically throw tantrums at Starbucks, complain about her food at restaurants or publicly shame a local business over service issues; or contact law enforcement on black people for reasons such as asking them to leash their dogs in Central Park – basically being an all-round jerk.
Social media users have taken to using “White People Are Extinct” as an internet meme to poke fun at real-life stereotypes of white people and their inability to adapt with changing times. Similar memes include Beckys, Kyles and Chads that also poke fun at real stereotypes.
Some have decried this meme as sexist; others have used it as a platform to encourage critical discussions around white privilege and racism. A viral video featuring a woman refusing to wear a face mask at CVS pharmacy was seen as evidence of this trope; similar instances can also be found throughout the coronavirus pandemic where people act out like Karens by refusing to cover their faces or demanding that service workers speak with a manager directly.
Many of these cases stem from an assumption that being Karen is an inalienable right. Unfortunately, this can lead to people acting like Karens policing and judging other groups, especially marginalized communities – something which runs counter to the spirit of coronavirus pandemic. Therefore it is crucial that we understand their ramifications so as to combat their power structures within society while providing safety during times of crisis.
Who is Karen?
Anyone who spends much time on social media has probably come across Karen or heard about her. Her name has become shorthand for an entitled, thoughtless white woman who doesn’t consider how her actions impact those outside of her own world – whether that involves insisting on using charcoal grills in public parks, monitoring nonwhite people on Nextdoor and calling police over minor or even fabricated infractions; Karen is now synonymous with white privilege being weaponised against those of color.
Academic research backs the notion of Karens as memes with solid academic studies from professors Allisa Richardson and Jessica Williams. At a Berkman Klein event held in May 2020, Williams discussed their roles as gatekeepers of society; often acting as “agents of oppression,” by forcing their beliefs upon others and often acting out of fear rather than empathy toward marginalized groups.
These incidents have provided fuel for the Black Lives Matter movement, with Karen becoming an essential part of cultural discourse about race. Furthermore, she’s been used as an attack target against middle-aged white women upset about coronavirus pandemic outbreak. These women have come to be known as Coronavirus Karen or Trader Joe’s Karen due to their refusal to wear masks in stores where she’s been seen having meltdowns.
Real-life Karens can be dangerous and must be addressed when engaging in racist or entitled behaviors. White people who use their privilege to harm other people should be immediately denounced in strong terms that demonstrate this is unacceptable behaviour.
Thank goodness we’re not at peak Karen just yet, and the efforts of people such as BKC are helping expose this damaging behavior for what it is. There is still much work to be done, but at least it’s a start.
Why is Karen important?
As many may already know, Karen is one of only a few adults to understand what lies beyond Hawkins in the form of Upside Down and monsters that have invaded it. Therefore it’s essential we support her.
Though most residents of Hawkins remain blissfully unaware of supernatural goings-on, Karen puts herself in mortal danger to try and understand what’s going on. She has made numerous trips into the Upside Down and tried to help prevent other friends from becoming victims themselves. It has become an exhausting and dangerous way of life; peace would bring much relief.
The Karen, also pronounced Kah-Ren, are an ethnic minority from Myanmar or Burma that live across its mountainous eastern border regions and western Thailand, especially within Karen State, Kayah State, northern Shan States, Ayeyarwady Division Southern Kawthoolei Regions and Tenasserim Coastal Region.
After British granted independence to Burma (since 1989 known as Myanmar), Karen politicians hoped they would gain their own nation. Instead, they were quickly integrated into its government and began experiencing oppression at the hands of military rule – such as soldiers killing innocent villagers and insurgents – which fuelled resistance against it and caused many refugees from this ethnic minority group to flee across Thai-Burmese borders in search of safety – many multiple times!
As opposed to other ethnic groups in Burma, the Karen are not traditional opium producers; however, some Karen villages still cultivate marijuana for medicinal use and feeding elephants. Furthermore, many Karen men begin smoking cigarettes around 10 years of age.
Denise Bradley (popularly known by her TikTok nickname Aunt Karen) went undercover to infiltrate a private Facebook group titled “White Lives Matter.” While white supremacists and other forms of racism have long been an issue on social media platforms like Facebook, what was most shocking was how these women in this private group completely disregarded any notion of equality when discussing race-based topics.
How can I help?
As incidents of racism continue to surface, people have begun wondering why so many people act like Karen and what can be done about it.
Denise Bradley, otherwise known as Aunt Karen on TikTok, has been fighting this type of racism online since 2020 when she began her TikTok account to expose it. Many of her videos have gone viral including when she infiltrated a Facebook group called White Lives Matter where members discussed fear over Michael B Jordan as Superman among other topics; successfully dismantling white supremacy groups via this channel as well.
Be part of Aunt Karen’s movement against racism by subscribing to her newsletter and following her on social media platforms such as Instagram or Patreon. Additionally, you can support her work by making donations directly.