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Sarah Jane Comrie Citi Bike Karen

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Oh, brace yourselves, human church!

We’ve got a real doozy here—another emotionally manipulative, virtue-signaling op-ed from the New York Times written by Pamela Paul, who tries so hard to sound nuanced and introspective but ends up being a prime example of whitewashing and racial gaslighting.

The piece, “Don’t Call Her ‘Karen,” revisits the May 12 viral video involving Sarah Comrie, a physician’s assistant who tussled with a Black teenager over a rental bike in New York City.  Comrie can be seen in the video engaging in performative distress by shouting, “Help. Help me. Please help me,” while one of the teens says, “This is not your bike.”  Comrie, who was six months pregnant at the time, later fake cries and says, “You’re hurting my fetus.”

The teen holds his ground, calls her an actress, and he and his friends have some colorful words for Comrie. One of them tells Comrie that her baby is gonna come out “retarded.” While that comment was harsh, there is a point to consider. Being involved in a racially charged incident while pregnant could have exposed her body to stress hormones, which could have potentially affected the unborn child. These stress hormones could cross the placenta and impact the child’s development, possibly contributing to negative outcomes or even influencing attitudes and behaviors later in life.

But I digress.

After the video went viral, Comrie was branded the “Citi Bike Karen.”  Pamela Paul thinks that “Karen” is a mean slur that’s disrespectful of white women in general.

Since the incident last Spring, Comrie’s life has supposedly been “turned upside down,” Paul reports after interviewing her.  She’s allegedly been doxxed and faced death threats. Bellevue placed her on leave from her job and she had to hire a lawyer. Paul claims she couldn’t track down any of the teens to get their side of the story even though a mother of one of the teens shared his side and his sister showed a receipt from the bike transaction.

In her piece, Paul paints Comrie as a selfless hero, risking her health to care for others during the pandemic. But thousands of healthcare workers did the same without needing a front-page sob story.  Paul wants us to believe that we should all be sitting here, a safe distance from the “heat of the moment,” and reflect on that fateful day.

The writer tries to play both sides of the fence, questioning what really happened in the video, as if it’s some great mystery.  Oh, the “crucial questions” we must ask ourselves? Is Comrie a victim of racism and sexism who was bullied by Black teens for her precious bike?  Did the bike belong to her or the teenager?  Who cares?  The video shows a grown woman acting petulant, trying to wrestle a bike from a minor.

But wait, it gets better.

Paul throws in some cherry-picked quotes from Comrie to humanize her further.  The author graciously shares her Sherlock Holmes-level analysis of receipts, suggesting that she is somehow qualified to adjudicate this matter.  In her pathetic attempt at empathy, the author cries crocodile tears for Comrie, lamenting that she was caught in the crossfire of a “playground argument” turned racial and political.

Oh, come on, people, can’t we just cut her some slack? A playground argument! No big deal, right? I mean, who among us hasn’t bullied a minor for a bike?  Seriously though, it’s not a game when you’re dealing with real people and perpetuating harmful stereotypes that can end with an arrest or death.

In the end, the author’s plea to spare poor Sarah Comrie and all the other non-Karen women from being called Karens is just plain laughable.

“It’s impossible for a white woman to have a justifiable complaint and impermissible for her to speak up if she thinks she’s been wrong.  Yet that is what the term “Karen” implies: that if you are a white woman, your relative privilege renders suspect any complaint you might have; if you try to defend yourself, you thereby prove case against you,” Paul writes.  “The same goes for any woman who, whether out of female solidarity or because she believes an individual doesn’t deserve the slur, speaks up on behalf of a named “Karen.” To give the benefit of the doubt to the accused, let alone to defend her, is to become a Karen by association.”

Let’s get something straight: the term “Karen” is not some grand conspiracy against white women. It’s a label for a specific behavior that transcends race and sex.

The term has evolved into a specific pejorative label used to describe a certain type of behavior and attitude exhibited by individuals, usually white women, who are perceived as entitled, demanding, and often disrespectful towards others, particularly service workers, people of color, or anyone they consider beneath them. While it is true that the term “Karen” is associated with white women in most cases, it is essential to distinguish it from being a gendered slur for several reasons.

The term “Karen” is primarily behavior-focused rather than gender-based. It is used to describe a pattern of entitled and problematic behavior, rather than denigrating someone solely based on their gender.  It is not a broad term used to belittle women in general.  The label “Karen” does not target all women; it specifically refers to those who exhibit specific behaviors. It doesn’t perpetuate systemic oppression or reinforce gender-based stereotypes as other gendered slurs might.

The term “Karen” emerged from internet culture and memes, not as a calculated gendered insult. It gained popularity to satirize and call out problematic behavior.

It doesn’t carry the historical weight and systemic oppression associated with actual gendered slurs such as the “angry Black woman.”

It is essential to clarify that the term “Karen” is not intended to target all white women who have legitimate complaints and speak up about them, as Paul disingenuously suggests in her piece. Rather, it specifically refers to those who initiate confrontations over trivial matters, leading to racially charged attacks.

The widely circulated “Karen” videos usually depict women who act unreasonably, engage in arguments, resort to insults, and sometimes even display violent tendencies. These incidents often involve these women inserting themselves into situations that are not their concern and could easily be avoided.  For instance, situations where a little girl selling water is harassed, a Black man trying to enter his own apartment building is confronted, or a Black employee is subject to racist behavior in response to a mask request.

Now, let’s talk about how Paul is desperately trying to shield herself from any potential criticism.  It’s quite amusing, really.  She’s essentially saying, “Hey, I want to defend Karens, but I’m scared people might call me out for it, so let me preemptively whine about being unfairly attacked.” Classic move, right?

But guess what? If you feel the need to defend someone who’s exhibiting Karen-like behavior, be prepared for the consequences. Just like if you defend any other problematic behavior, people might question your judgment.

Paul’s whole argument reeks of insecurity and privilege shielding. Just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you get a free pass to defend bad behavior. It’s not about female solidarity; it’s about common sense and holding people accountable for their actions. She needs to own up to her sniveling opinion, take the criticism and stop trying to play the victim card. The world doesn’t revolve around her need to defend racist behavior.

When certain white women weaponize their privilege to gain an advantage in their interactions with Black people, they jeopardize the lives of those individuals. This behavior has tragically resulted in the loss of lives and freedoms for Black folks on a disturbingly frequent basis.

Next time, Pamela Paul, you should try writing something that makes sense and isn’t a pathetic attempt to rewrite reality and erase centuries of racial genocide, harassment, and discrimination because you’re in your feelings over a snarky trope. The priority lies in addressing the behavior of white women who demonstrate race-based hatred or violence rather than tending to their fragile emotions.

Dr. Stacey Patton is an award-winning journalist and author of “Spare The Kids: Why Whupping Children Won’t Save Black America” and the forthcoming “Strung Up: The Lynching of Black Children In Jim Crow America.”


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