UPDATED: 10:00 p.m. ET, Dec. 28 —
One of the many byproducts of the coronavirus pandemic has been the very predictable emergence of white women amplifying their privileges when it comes to exerting their purported moral authorities in reaction to the public health crisis. The people consistently at the center of such disturbing incidents have been mockingly dubbed “Karens,” a generic name for the white women being immortalized on the viral videos in which they are unwittingly starring.
Case and point: The white woman who not only confronted a father — famous jazz musician Keyon Harrold Jr. — and his teenage son with false accusations of stealing her iPhone but also allegedly physically attacked them in a New York City hotel in which she wasn’t even a guest. The unfortunate encounter took place just one day after Christmas. There are calls for the Manhattan district attorney to charge her criminally for the ugly episode that was captured on a video that went viral. Her phone was later found in an Uber.
With the proliferation of all the Karens, it can be hard to keep track of them, especially as people are protesting against the very racism that they represent. But they resiliently keep exposing themselves, like in June when a Karen who lives in the Milwaukee area confronted protesters and spit on a teenager. The uncontrollable rage of Stephanie Rapkin toward a young, diverse group of protesters peacefully demonstrating against the kind of racism she was unabashedly displaying got the 64-year-old lawyer arrested not once but twice in the span of as many days. Her’s was a special kind of Karening that was recorded on video and went viral for the world to witness the person who became better known as the “Shorewood Spitter.”
Shorewood attorney Stephanie Rapkin spent the night in the Milwaukee County Jail after being arrested first for spitting on one BLM protester and then shoving another. Shorewood police are asking prosecutors to charge her w four counts, including battery and resisting/obstructing pic.twitter.com/Hl9usdAFG5
— Daniel Bice (@DanielBice) June 8, 2020
And if you thought Karens could only be women, get your sexist mind out of the racial gutter. There have been a growing number of instances of white men unknowingly vying against their female counterparts (though there doesn’t seem to be anything more irresistible to police officers than a white woman’s tears, but we digress…) to one-up each other’s irrational anti-Black racism.
Those folks have been Christened as “Karen’s Husband.” We met one earlier this year when a white man decided to call the cops on protestors because they were allegedly “honking horns” near his home. In peak white entitlement fashion, he tried to use his service in the military as a reason why he has the authority to make demands.
In another video, a group of Black entrepreneurs described being racially profiled by a white man in a Minnesota building where they rent office space.
Previously, one Karen had an unwanted moment of international attention when a woman named Amy Cooper claimed to be deathly afraid of a Black man because he asked her to put her dog on a leash in New York City’s Central Park where bird watching is popular. Oh, and because it is against the rules to have dogs off leashes in the public park. It was one of the more egregious instances of Karen trying to police a Black person under flagrantly racist pretenses.
The incident unfolded early on the Memorial Day holiday after Christian Cooper (obviously, no relation) spotted Karen’s dog off the leash in a part of Central Park called the Ramble. The video begins directly afterward and shows Karen, clearly embarrassed at being rightfully called out, reacting mercilessly on both human and canine levels, fumbling to put the leash on her dog while scrambling to call police at the same time. In doing so, she appeared to be choking, lifting and dragging her dog by the leash.
Karen can be seen and heard repeating in a shaky voice on her phone that “there’s an African American man threatening my life.” Christian Cooper’s video, of course, showed that the only apparent threat came when Karen moved aggressively toward him despite his pleas for her to stop advancing in his direction.
Watch the video below.
Oh, when Karens take a walk with their dogs off leash in the famous Bramble in NY’s Central Park, where it is clearly posted on signs that dogs MUST be leashed at all times, and someone like my brother (an avid birder) politely asks her to put her dog on the leash. pic.twitter.com/3YnzuATsDm
— Melody Cooper (@melodyMcooper) May 25, 2020
Prior to that madness, a social media debate broke out over the racial connotation behind the name Karen, with white women claiming it was the “N-word for white women.”
But not all of these videos have a racial undertone to them, either, as many of the so-called Karens show just as much negative energy toward their fellow white folks as they do to Black people. The underlying theme each time remains the same — how dare anybody go against what Karen says?
Karen wore a mask for 45 minutes and now she's crying because she can't see strangers' faces or hold their babies.https://t.co/AYE0N5Xtxo
— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) May 20, 2020
That privileged attitude, however, has not prevailed as it used to not so long ago when an earlier incarnation of the Karens — BBQ Beckys — dominated the news cycle by calling the police on Black people who were somehow exhibiting threatening behavior by participating in everyday activities that included but were definitely not limited to having a cookout, selling Girl Scout cookies and studying in a university library.
Karens were already rising to infamy before the coronavirus pandemic set in. But as the COVID-19 crisis has continued, so have the Karens, undeterred in getting their points across.
From questioning why a Black police officer was “breaking into” his own home to assaulting workers at a Red Lobster restaurant who were only enforcing social distancing guidelines to finding a UPS worker “suspicious” for delivering packages to threatening pharmacy employees, the coronavirus has emboldened Karens across the world.
Another hallmark of the Karen videos is the decided absence of police violence. In one video, a Karen is joined by a throng of other Karens at a playground, one of the many places initially ruled off-limits during the pandemic. The video opens with a police officer politely and patiently asking the lead Karen to kindly leave since playgrounds were closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, especially among the young. But the head Karen in charge had other ideas and decided to mouth off to the cop, who gave her multiple chances to leave before he finally arrested her. We shudder to think of the police treatment a Black person would have received for exhibiting the same behavior.
That came after a male Karen blocked a Black delivery driver from leaving a gated community and called the police over the same kind of misguided suspicions that white folks have been known to have when they see Black and brown skin.
For the full Karen experience of living life feeling like there are no consequences and repercussions for one’s own actions, scroll down for a hearty dose of Karens’ reality as documented in the growing number of videos below.
1. Arlo SoHo Karen
Wow! This woman made baseless claims against @keyonharrold and his 14yo son at @arlohotels Arlo SoHo — then assaulted them, scratching Keyon & tackling his boy. Worse, the hotel manager defended & empowered her actions, and refused to apologize after her claims were proven wrong! pic.twitter.com/LqHboiAEd6— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) December 27, 2020
This unidentified white woman got her “Karen” on by falsely accusing a 14-year-old of stealing her iPhone before she “attacked” his father, Keyon Harrold Jr., in the lobby of the Arlo SoHo hotel in New York City on the morning of Dec. 26, the day after Christmas.
When they came downstairs for breakfast, Karen angrily approached them and accused Harrold’s son of stealing from her even though she had no proof to back up her allegation. At one point she had to be restrained by a hotel employee, who, of course, took her side in the matter.
Karen then allegedly grabbed, tackled the young boy and scratched Harrold.
Karens don’t die, they only multiply.
2. Trader Joe’s ‘Karen’
This is a Trader Joe’s today. In Los Angeles. Cases are through the roof in California. Is there any way to reach these people?— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) June 27, 2020
This “Karen” refused to wear a mask while inside a Trader Joe’s and was promptly asked t leave — but not before she put up a privileged fight.
3. ‘Karen’ the angry neighbor
hey guys!! this is my new neighbor!! pic.twitter.com/yZxsQD1daS— bailey (@bailey3jenkins) June 27, 2020
4. ‘Karen’ Pulls Gun On Black Woman And Daughter After Chipotle Argument
A white woman was arrested after she was shown on video aiming a gun directly at a Black woman and her daughter who were just feet away following a nonviolent dispute at a Chipotle restaurant in Michigan.
5. Nurse ‘Karen’ Fired
Caron Jones — that’s Caron with a “K” as in “Karen” 👩🏼⚕️ — also called the Black Lives Matter movement a "ploy" for Black votes before the North Carolina nurse got fired for her racist social media posts.https://t.co/WQn68gNToF— NewsOne (@newsone) July 1, 2020
Caron Jones — that’s Caron with a “K” as in “Karen”— was fired for complaining about #BlackLivesMatter in a lengthy Facebook post that said in part, “All Lives Matter and BLM is just a political trick to upset a group of people to riot and terrorize!”
6. St. Louis ‘Karen’
Patricia McCloskey and her husband confronted nonviolent Black Lives Matter protesters in St. Louis with their guns, including her husband’s assault rifle.
7. ‘Karen’s Husband’ Investigated After Calling Cops On Black Men
“Karen’s husband” has surfaced as an offshoot to Karen, describing a white man who will also call the police over the pettiest of things. One man in Connecticut exemplified “Karen’s husband” when he called the cops on a group of Black men and referred to himself as “God,” declaring “White lives matter too.” He even allegedly pepper-sprayed the guys.
8. Convenience Store ‘Karen’
It was the I’m the wrong nigga for me 😭 pic.twitter.com/2Rv33NNn2k— HEAVYY ON IT 🗣💕 (@HeavyyCampp) June 25, 2020
An unidentified white woman in Sacramento who is now known as “Convenience Store Karen” or “Sacramento Karen” got into a heated argument with an unidentified Black woman after calling her the N-word. Karen’s racism was promptly met by Black power in the form of the Black woman’s fist colliding with the white woman’s face, repeatedly.
9. Nurse ‘Karen’ Loses Her Job For ‘Black Privilege’ Video
Kondescending Kunty Kristy AKA Karen pic.twitter.com/qBHivipJ2j— 👸 You Can Call Me ‘Queen (@OutOfFucksQueen) June 28, 2020
This time around, Karen — presented in the form of a nurse — seemed to not only be cognizant of her disdain for Black folks, but she also advertised it while recording a selfie video complaining about “Black privilege” (which, of course, doesn’t exist) and suggested George Floyd was to blame for his own death that a medical examiner called a homicide.
10. Seattle ‘Karen’ Has A Total Meltdown After Black Driver Records Her ‘White Tears’
"I HAVE A BLACK HUSBAND!"— NewsOne (@newsone) June 23, 2020
A "Karen" in Seattle identified as Leah completely lost it when Karlos Dillard, a Black man, confronted and recorded her after he says he was the victim of her racist road rage.
The video has gone viral as Karening gets worse.https://t.co/X5ryYpQlhF
A white woman driver was apparently more worried about becoming the next star of a viral “Karen” video than she was about allegations of her own racist road rage after a Black motorist confronted her on film in Seattle.
11. Officer ‘Karen’ Is Slammed For Crying White Tears Over McDonald’s Wait
A Georgia law enforcement officer broke down in tears over the delay of her McDonald’s order and took to Facebook Live to air her grievances about a topic that is not important in the vast scheme of things.
“It doesn’t matter how many hours I’ve been up, it doesn’t matter what I’ve done for anyone, right now I’m too nervous to take a meal from McDonald’s because I can’t see it being made,” she said in the clip.
12. Kroger ‘Karen’ Blocks Black Mother From Pulling Out Of Parking Lot Over ‘Gatorade’
A Black woman was grocery shopping with her three kids in a Detroit Krogrers when a white woman stood behind her car in the parking lot, preventing her from leaving, because one of the children allegedly stepped on the bottom shelf to reach a bottle of Gatorade. That upset “Karen,” who took the law into her own hands against something that isn’t even a crime.
13. San Francisco ‘Karen’ Who Called Cops Over ‘BLM’ Art
A white couple call the police on me, a person of color, for stencilling a #BLM chalk message on my own front retaining wall. “Karen” lies and says she knows that I don’t live in my own house, because she knows the person who lives here. #blacklivesmatter pic.twitter.com/rOpHvKVwgP— Jaimetoons (@jaimetoons) June 12, 2020
Lisa Alexander and her husband were fired for racially profiling their Black neighbor in San Francisco and then calling police on the innocent man.
14. Karen the “Shorewood Spitter”
Stephanie Rapkin blocked a group of protesters with her car, got out, walked up to protesters and directly confronted them before she spit in an unidentified Black teenager’s face in Milwaukee. The person who uploaded the footage and posted it on Facebook attributed Rapkin’s actions to “racism” and accurately pointed out that the victim who was spit on was participating in a peaceful and nonviolent protest.
Rapkin was arrested and released in just enough time to confront people who were writing in chalk on the sidewalk in front of her home in Shorewood, Wisconsin. When her neighbors rightfully called out Rapkin about spitting on the Black teen the day before, she went into “Karen” mode and allegedly assaulted one of the people confronting her. Police arrested her again, but not before she allegedly kneed an officer in the groin.
15. Karen’s husband
This white man pulled the ultimate Karen move and called police on Black people because they were exercising in the same office gym that he was in. He couldn’t believe they were tenants. Turns out, not only were they tenants, but the man — Tom Austin — consequently lost the lease to his office space in the building because of his anti-Black racism.
16. Karen’s other husband
Question: I get we’re living in stressful times but why do we keep seeing so many white women abusing workers like this? pic.twitter.com/UKfWG631TX— chris evans (@notcapnamerica) May 18, 2020
On the next episode of “are white people ok? 👀”.... meet Red Lobster Karen 🦞 pic.twitter.com/ElgRipPyrU— Tax the Wealth, All of It. ✊🏽🦺🌈 (@angel_felixv) May 13, 2020
I can’t believe this is real. This lady went out to video shame everyone who dared to have fun in the sun at the beach and then she yelled at a Trader Joe’s worker over social distancing.— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) May 18, 2020
Karen needs to just stay home and leave the rest of us alone... 🙄🤦🏻♂️pic.twitter.com/QUeZkRSudW
K*ren: "Arrest me"— Scottie PIPM (@scottiepipm) April 23, 2020
K*ren: 😲 pic.twitter.com/5NJnPsSj8k
I’m baffled. Just saw this on the news. Woman who drove 1.5 hours to go to the beach with her family complains about other people at the beach who have done the same as her. Does she not see she’s part of the problem #StayAtHomeSaveLives #COVIDIDIOTS pic.twitter.com/iowllyZEk2— Colm McAfee (@mcafee77) May 17, 2020