Internet discourse is ever evolving and when something becomes overwhelmingly popular, it’s natural there will be backlash.
Over the last few months the name ‘Karen’ has become commonplace to describe a bigoted white women, usually middle-class, who uses her privilege as a leverage against a more marginalised group in order to get what she wants.
Calling someone a ‘Karen’ has become shorthand for accusing someone of racist or otherwise prejudiced behaviour, usually perpetrated when they think they won’t get caught but instead are filmed in the midst of an encounter.
For example, Amy Cooper, the white woman who called the police on a Black man who asked her to leash her dog, and falsely told them he was attacking her, was quickly labelled a ‘Karen’.
There’s already been pushback on ‘Karen’ from the people it mostly refers to: white, middle class women who said it was a ‘slur’.
But now, there’s been more pleas to stop using the term so loosely in regards to any racist encounter.
After a woman was caught on video, pointing a gun at a Black family, people have begun to question whether ‘Karen’ conveys the seriousness of racism and its often fatal impact.
As one Twitter user pointed out, the use of ‘Karen’ also masked the very disparate professions and class position of the women being caught in the act. Racism, sadly, is structural.
From privileged people to those at the bottom of the totem pole, you can find it.
Others said it allowed people to distance themselves from the actions of individuals.
An artist named Taylor Goethe helpfully shared a graphic she'd made as part of a quarantine comic series, explaining why we should be replacing the word “Karen” with “white supremacist” in some cases.
Comedian Jaboukie Young-White also voiced his apprehension at “Karen” being used to describe women who were posing a serious threat to Black individuals.
“Karen” is a term to denote insidious racism and white entitlement. Not to refer to someone pointing a gun at Black people.
There were also concerns at how the term had been adopted by white people.
So, in short, maybe it’s time to put the Karens on pause until people are able to apply a little nuance and critical analysis.