I was having a conversation with one of my good friends and she made the following astute observation: “You put a white woman in a situation and a ‘Karen’ will come out.”
Truer words have never been spoken.
In case you missed it, Sarah Jane Comrie—a white woman and physician’s assistant employed by NYC Health + Hospitals—is the latest “Karen” to make it onto the Twitter Summer Jam Screen after an incident that took place over the weekend.
Sarah Comrie was caught on video trying to physically take a Citi Bike from a young Black man who had already rented and paid for it. Citi Bike is a bike sharing service available to the public where one can rent both manual and motorized bikes in and around New York City.
In the video, “Citi Bike Karen” appears to be coming off a shift at nearby Bellevue Hospital. She is wearing her hospital scrubs with the NYCH+H logo on them and her hospital identification badge around her neck. The video starts with her attempting to wrestle a bike away from a young man who can be heard telling her that it’s not her bike and that he had already paid for it.
When Comrie realizes the young man is not going to willingly give the bike up to her, she begins yelling “Help! Help me” as people walk by on the streets.
I want everyone to stop and think about the optics for a minute.
This is a white woman who walked into the middle of a group of young Black men (they honestly look like older teens if we are being frank). She tries to physically take a bike from one of them. We see that much on camera.
The people passing by on the street can’t see that, however. What they see is a white woman surrounded by a group of young Black men, and she seems to be in distress. Are they attacking her? Are they harming her? Why are they crowded around her like this?
Sarah Jane Comrie knew exactly what she was doing when she began yelling. She wanted to draw the wrong type of attention to those young men so she could force them to give her what she wanted — the motorized bike.
She understands that as a white woman, she is always going to be viewed as the victim in any situation. She knows that white comfort is always prioritized over everything else. She is aware that if she makes a loud enough scene, some white man or a cop will come flying in to “rescue” her.
It’s what she wanted.
Sarah Jane Comrie is a 2023 version of Carolyn Bryant.
Bryant, who died two weeks ago on April 25, should have been tried in Emmett Till’s murder, but she never was. She died of old age — a luxury she denied Emmett Till.
She told her husband Till had called her “baby” as he was leaving their store.
Knowing what we know about Black mamas and grandmamas and most especially Black mamas and grandmamas back in the 1950s, I highly doubt Emmett Till called that woman “baby.”
More likely, it was some smaller “slight” that Till wasn’t even aware he was making.
Maybe he looked her in the eye. He wasn’t from the South, and he wasn’t used to the way Black people in the South were forced to “humble” themselves around white people. It would not have occurred to him to look down when he handed Bryant the money for his purchases.
And she, being a “good” Southern white woman, would not have known how to take that. How dare this boy look directly at me!
We have heard enough stories and seen enough videos to know for sure how white women behave when they feel slighted.
The story is that she initially went for her gun.
Stop for a minute and think about going to get a gun for something so small as a look. He didn’t touch her. He didn’t assault her. He didn’t harm her.
He didn’t do anything to put her life in danger, but her immediate response to whatever the small “slight” was violence, and although she wasn’t the one who exacted the violence in the end, she is equally responsible because she caused it. Without Carolyn Bryant’s lie, Emmett Till gets to have his summer in Mississippi and go back home to Chicago.
Because of Carolyn Bryant, Emmett Till died at 14 years of age.
Now take it back to that rack of Citi Bikes.
Yes, there was an entire rack of bikes, and there were bikes other than the one Sarah Jane Comrie was trying to steal that were available to her.
Sarah Jane Comrie put her hands on that young man. Sarah Jane Comrie snatched his phone. Sarah Jane Comrie kept trying to take a bike away from him that he already rented and paid for. Then Sarah Jane Comrie lies and accuses him of hurting her “unborn fetus.”
Sarah Jane Comrie initiated the incident. Sarah Jane Comrie walked into that crowd of young Black men. And when Sarah Jane Comrie didn’t get what she wanted, she began screaming and yelling for help as if she had been harmed.
It’s important to remember that the people on the street don’t have the same point of view that we have in the video. In the video, we can immediately tell what is going on, but the people passing by on the street see a crowd of young Black men surrounding a screaming young white woman.
Sarah Jane Comrie knew what she was doing when she set up that audio and visual performance.
Sarah Jane Comrie isn’t new to the United States. She is well aware of what can happen in police interactions with Black people. She is well aware that white men will come to her rescue, and one in fact does.
For his part, Captain Save-a-Karen immediately decides that no matter what is going on, she is in the right. Without hearing the full story, he urges the young Black man to let her take the bike.
When the young man informs him that he has already paid for and rented the bike, Captain Save-a-Karen then tells him to just “reset it” so she can take it.
You see that? Even after being told that the young man is the rightful possessor of the bike, Captain Save-a-Karen prioritizes her white comfort over what is just. Never mind that you already paid for the bike! She’s upset and now (fake) crying. Let her take the bike!
Sarah Jane Comrie brought out the fake tears when Captain Save-a-Karen came on the scene. Her eyes were drier than cotton mouth. She was quite literally scrunching up her face and making crying noises.
Her “tears” had an impact because Captain Save-a-Karen stayed on the scene to see the issue to its resolution.
The young Black man once again explained that he had already paid for the bike. It was already rented and already running on his time. His friends pointed out that there were other bikes available that she could rent and asked why she wasn’t trying to take one of those.
This actually made sense to Captain Save-a-Karen. He then asks Sarah Jane Comrie why she doesn’t take one of the other bikes.
The fake crying immediately stops. She says that she can take one of the other bikes, and she climbs off the bike she was attempting to steal.
One of the young men points out that she was fake crying. She doesn’t even flinch.
I assume she hopped on her bike and made her commute to wherever she was going after that, and she probably didn’t give a second thought to the fact that had anyone else happened upon that scene — a cop from NYPD, a “Good Samaritan trying to be a hero,” or Daniel Penny — the outcome could have been deadly.
She didn’t think twice about yelling for help and faking tears. The look on her face as she was yelling help is stuck in my mind because it was so non-emotional. She clearly was not in distress. She was yelling help as a threat to those young men that they better give her what she wanted.
They bravely stood their ground. They maintained their composure. They kept calling her “miss” and didn’t match her tone or her energy.
And now they have been vindicated.
Sarah Jane Comrie left the scene of her crime and went about her business, likely not reflecting on how her actions mimic those of a white woman in Money, Mississippi, in 1955. She probably didn’t think about how it could have turned deadly.
She also underestimated the power of video and the internet.
She’s now the main character.
Everyone is searching Google for Sarah Jane Comrie.
Everyone is watching the video of Sarah Jane Comrie weaponizing her white woman tears.
Everyone knows that Sarah Jane Comrie works for New York City Health + Hospitals at Bellevue Hospital.
Everyone knows that Sarah Jane Comrie is on leave from Bellevue Hospital as NYCH+H conducts an investigation into the video of her weaponizing her white woman tears.
Everyone knows that Sarah Jane Comrie could have caused harm to those young men.
And now Sarah Jane Comrie is in the “find out” portion of the game.
I hope Sarah Jane Comrie gets everything that’s coming to her.
Monique Judge is a storyteller, content creator and writer living in Los Angeles. She is a word nerd who is a fan of the Oxford comma, spends way too much time on Twitter, and has more graphic t-shirts than you. Follow her on Twitter @thejournalista or check her out at moniquejudge.com.
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