• Lucia Joyce

'Karen' Energy

The term 'Karen' is flying about, and even though I think the premise is deeply hilarious (and occasionally useful for explaining a situation with a Karen-type), I don't necessarily think it's always helpful.

A harmless label used to poke fun and move past something is great, but using that label to spread more hate is the opposite of productive at a time when we need all the support and help we can get, yes, even from demanding white women in layered pixie cuts.

I have a theory that the explosion of 'Karen' call out videos during this time of increasing Coronavirus outbreaks, political confusion, racial injustice illumination, and overall uncertainty has to do with select white women not processing their own traumas and oppressions in a white-male supremacist society. They are in this place of being targeted by anti-racists for their privilege and ignorance but they are victims, too, of systems that favor men, and they are often ill-equipped to direct their fear, anger, and confusion to the source of their oppression, also the source of their privilege. Do I think entitled, ignorant white women are part of the problem? Of course. But again, I ask if it is truly helpful to point harassment at someone we could use on the side of justice and change. I like the memes. I like that the concept is forcing us all to look inside ourselves and check our privilege. I just hope the really rowdy 'Karens' can pivot their focus from threatening well meaning people of color to the system itself and the knowing white males who orchestrate it. We need Karens... asking to 'see the managers' of our political, judicial, education, and medical systems. We need them on our side... :)

We thought our neighbor was a Karen for a day. She was bent out of shape over us parking in front of her house, in perfectly legal public street parking. Her fear and gut assumptions based on old beliefs caused her to rush to text our landlord about an easily reconciled issue we could have talked out in mere minutes. A few things were at play: she was simply trying to hold the parking space for her daughter, a 22 year old health care worker with an unpredictable schedule, and she was caught up in memories of prior house tenants who enforced the same unwritten rule about parking in front of our house. We certainly could have directed hateful assumptions at her 'Karen energy' but instead we just laid low and didn't give the situation too much thought. I moved my car, and there she was on our shared sidewalk, anxious, but determined. I entered her world with caution and curiosity. The first thing she said was, "I'm sorry." She called herself out for being a rude neighbor and getting caught up in her own frustration with someone who wasn't us (our house owner and prior tenant). She politely explained the situation with the parking spot, and proceeded to chat lovingly with me about how much she loved the kindness and diversity of the neighborhood, how the pandemic has separated her and her daughter more (who is her bestie) and how she actually is thrilled to have us living next door to her--she just lost her truth in a heated moment and would make sure it didn't happen again.

I'm not making this up! Karens are people too. Everyone is going through a lot and should be allowed to make mistakes. That's how we all learn and get better at this stuff. That's how we come together and build a system that works for all of us.

Empathy, y'all. It's the only way forward.

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