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On Sunday evening, the Global Opinions editor for The Washington Post tweeted “white women are lucky that we are just calling them ‘Karen’s’. And not calling for revenge.”
Karen Attiah wrote in a since-deleted tweet, “The lies & tears of White women hath wrought: —The 1921 Tulsa Massacre — Murder of Emmet Till — Exclusion of Black women from feminist movements — 53% of white women voting for Trump. White women are lucky that we are just calling them ‘Karen’s’. And not calling for revenge.”
She added later: “This is not patience and strength. It’s the result of knowing the price of resistance, and that much blood would be spilled. We must get away from the idea that enduring abuse is admirable.”
Four minutes after that, she tweeted, “I’m just saying. Be happy we are calling for equality. And not actual revenge.”
Prior to those three tweets, Attiah explained: “But here’s the real thing about ‘Karen’ memes. The dark side to handwringing about how ‘Karen’ hurts white women’s feelings is that it is a distraction from how everyday white women uphold white supremacy through violence, aggression and the weaponizing of their gender.”
But here’s the real thing about “Karen” memes.
The dark side to handwringing about how Karen” hurts white women’s feelings is that it is a distraction from how everyday white women uphold white supremacy through violence, aggression, and the weaponzing of their gender.
— Karen Attiah (@KarenAttiah) June 28, 2020
Attiah has described the use of the name “Karen” to belittle people this way:
In the past several years, “Karen” has come to represent a certain archetype of middle-aged white female privilege — or the new n-word, depending on whom you ask. Yup, “Karen” is the new black …Becky and Karen memes and jokes should be understood in this context, part of a long tradition to use humor to try to cope with the realities of white privilege and anti-blackness.
An article published on the site bitchmedia surmised that using the name “Karen” as a pejorative arose from the “custom (also largely based in social media) of giving white women nicknames that reference their specific brand of racism.” The article continued, “In current contexts, white women’s power is translated into that of a Karen; Black women know that Karens have always walked among us.”
“Because Karen is white, she faces few meaningful repercussions,” Robin Abcarian of the The Los Angeles Times wrote in a May 23 column. “Embarrassing videos posted on social media is usually as bad as it gets for Karen. This is the subversive genius of the meme. It’s not especially vicious, but with luck it causes all the Karens out there to examine the way they move through the world. The Karen meme exists for the amusement of those who take pleasure in watching the privileged take themselves down. It is observational, darkly funny and racially pointed: We see your privilege, even if you don’t.”
Business Insider added, “The ‘Karen’ meme, which has become so ubiquitous it’s been used as a Halloween costume, burst onto the scene in the last couple of years to describe white women who were perceived as acting entitled in public. Now, it’s used as a moniker for any white woman who’s thought to be acting inappropriately, rudely, or in an entitled fashion.”