UPDATED: 2:02 p.m. ET, July 4 —
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.
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 last weekend 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.”
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 just last week 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 a public park in New York City where bird watching is popular. 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 after that and shows Karen, clearly embarrassed at being rightfully called out, reacting mercilessly on both a 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.
An inane social media debate broke out last month over the racial connotation behind the name Karen, with white women claiming it was the “N-word for white women.” But not all of the 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 as the underlying theme each time remains the same — how dare anybody go against what Karen says?
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 police on Black people who were somehow exhibiting threatening behavior by participating in everyday activities that included but were not limited to having a cookout, selling Girl Scout cookies and studying in a 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 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 videos of the Karens is the decided absence of police violence from any of them. In one video, a Karen is joined by a throng of other Karens at a playground, one of the many places 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 Karen had other ideas and decided to mouth off to the cop, who gave her multiple chances to leave before he finally arrested her.
To be sure, there are male Karens, as well. That much was proven earlier this month when a white man 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 on the videos below.
1. Trader Joe’s ‘Karen’
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.
2. ‘Karen’ the angry neighbor
3. ‘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.
4. Nurse ‘Karen’ Fired
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!”
5. 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.
6. ‘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.
7. Convenience Store ‘Karen’
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.
8. Nurse ‘Karen’ Loses Her Job For ‘Black Privilege’ Video
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.
9. Seattle ‘Karen’ Has A Total Meltdown After Black Driver Records Her ‘White Tears’
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.
10. San Francisco ‘Karen’ Who Called Cops Over ‘BLM’ Art
Lisa Alexander and her husband were fired for racially profiling their Black neighbor in San Francisco and then calling police on the innocent man.
11. 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.