One of the unintended consequences of a global lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic is that a good number of people have been searching for ways to spice up their otherwise boring, home-bound existences. That could explain why the Twitter account for a group of “journalist advocates” decided to haphazardly (emphasis on the “hazard”) post a poll asking the opinion on whether the social media platform should ban the “term ‘Karen.'”
Friends of Journalism, which describes itself as “journalist advocates recognizing those enlightening us through their work,” said “Karen” was “being used as a sexist and racist slur” against white women. The strange thing was, though, Black people responding to the now-viral tweet said they hadn’t heard of anyone using that name, word or term to refer to white women, or anybody, really.
If anyone thought the tweet was a practical joke of sorts, they may want to think again after Friends of Journalism followed up its first tweet by admonishing any potential “troll” whose intent is to “harass” in response to the question.
Apparently, Friends of Journalism was not the only person tweeting this concern this weekend.
Matthew Cherry had what was perhaps the most clever response by tweeting a video of actor Delroy Lindo that went viral over the weekend and brilliantly involved the N-word.
Of course, NewsOne participated in the decidedly unscientific poll — guess how we voted? — which then revealed the results. Out of more than 45,000 votes, more than 95 percent of the respondents said that no, “Karen” should not be banned on Twitter.
To suggest that there is any word in the English language that is on a par with the N-word is preposterous at best. It’s a word entrenched in hatred the likes of which “Karen” could never come close to. That fact was not lost on folks on social media reacting playfully to the ignorance displayed by whoever was manning the Twitter account for Friends of Journalism.
With that said, a quick look on Urban Dictionary found that “Karen” is defined in part as “gives raisins to kids on Halloween,” a reference to a food that is, for better or for worse, associated with white people. A separate entry for “Karen” says “somehow karen always turns up asking to see the manager.” So while there may be some credence that it is a reference to a white woman, it’s unclear how the feminine name could be sexist, let alone a slur, a word defined as “an insulting or disparaging remark or innuendo.”
A Reddit thread started a year ago had the title, “It must be really hard to be a black woman named Karen or Becky.”
For the record, Twitter makes plain on its website what type of behavior is banned. But if the president can avoid Twitter punishment after openly tweeting that a Black man is a “sonofabitch” for kneeling, chances are that “Karen” won’t garner any scrutiny from the company.
Alas, sometimes there is no reasoning on social media, a truth that was arguably reflected in Friends of Journalism’s Twitter poll. In the meantime, scroll down to see some of the other responses across social media reacting to the allegation that “Karen” is a sexist.
"Karen" is not a slur, she is a good character from Spongebob. Stop spreading around misinformation. pic.twitter.com/jBzJu57ob0— Renegade (@renegademaster5) April 6, 2020
Well off cis White women explaining to minority women why Karen is such a hurtful term pic.twitter.com/DgFrHjKmYM— The Stuffing Liker (@tholzerman) April 6, 2020
Black and Brown people have endured colonization, slavery, marginalization AND oppression for CENTURIES:— Jon Paul, Ed.D.✊🏾🏳️🌈 (@DoctorJonPaul) April 6, 2020
But you’re mad because someone is calling you Karen.
I can’t. pic.twitter.com/dxGA4sUYde
ACTUALLY KAREN IS A RACIAL SLU- pic.twitter.com/hnhbiTKu4k— Whacktose Intolerant (@MillyTamarez) April 6, 2020
in case you’ve been lucky and haven’t encountered a karen, here’s what they’re like: pic.twitter.com/lAcTW0sjkp— 🖤 (@vxxxdhxxx) April 5, 2020
How are the witches who couldn’t burn this pressed over being called a Karen pic.twitter.com/RrK8kY1iuA— imagine the x-men cupid shuffling w/sentinels 😬 (@Steph_I_Will) April 6, 2020
petition to change Karen to Carole pic.twitter.com/vXOK6MqVwK— Dustin Dailey (@ThreeDailey) April 6, 2020
This is a white woman who is not a Karen pic.twitter.com/9KrwnhUTjs— Stew Pitt (@fern_jimenez) April 6, 2020