This is my first Blog post so feel free to comment.
"Karen", what is the origin behind it?
By now, most Americans are aware of this woman, Amy Cooper; nicknamed "Central Park Karen." We generally are familiar with the circumstances of how she gained that nick name (side note: I've never felt this bad for a dog, other than PETA commercials, smh). Nevertheless, we understand the reasoning behind why she was given that nick-name, "Central Park Karen." Besides using the name "Karen" as a funny moniker for the managerial stalker or popular Tik-Tok hashtag, where does the name Karen come from? What is the origin behind it? And, why is it a needed symbol?
Did it originate with recurring themes of middle aged/middle class White women constantly looking for the manager? Nope. Did it come from the power of the helpless White women archetype? Eh, there, maybe some truth to this. The reality is, Black Americans have been using names to call White women who assert power that they did not often have over matters, since slavery. However, during this period, society was a lot more hostile and deadly.
So, a name was given to those "Karen" type of White women as a way to deprive them of that power. According to CNN article entitled, "How Karen became a meme, and What real-life Karens think about it", Andre Brock, an associate professor at Georgia Tech, stated, "Miss Ann is one example, from the time of slavery. It was a name Black slaves would use specifically to refer to White women who wanted to exert power over them-power that they didn't actually have."
Brock Andre's definition makes complete sense; however, one point that I have to disagree with, despite not wanting to, is the part of "White women who wanted to exert power...they didn't actually have." The reason why these women exerting power over matters because they Society actually convinced them they were afforded this power. A primary example would be, that's right, Amy Cooper again. Prior to her calling the cops, she stated clearly and confidently, "I'm going to call the cops and tell them an African-American man is threatening my life." Where did she get the confidence and assurance from that the cops would believe her? Hmm, hmm, well, history. American history has shown that White women at points, used Black men or Black people as scapegoats to their own problems, causing lynching and often, Black towns to be destroyed altogether.
Some examples would be Carolyn Bryant statement of a little boy whistling at her which lead to the brutal death of that little boy at the hands of her husband and brother in law. That little boy was Emmett Till. Carolyn later stated on her deathbed that she lied about the incident. Lastly, and not far from the end, a "Karen" that history tried to bury, Ann Taylor of Rosewood, Florida. Ann Taylor was a sixteen year-old White women who had been assaulted by her boyfriend/side dude. Ann Taylor was in a marriage at the time and did not want to admit the truth to her husband, so what did she do? Well, much like a lot of "Karens" she saw a problem (her own created problem) and phoned the manager. Who was the manager? They happen to be her husband and a gang of other White men coming from a Klan rally. To avoid being ridiculed by her husband, she said a Black man had assaulted her. What happened next? Well, Rosewood is no longer on the map. But, there is a movie named Rosewood, based on the massacre, plus scores of documents that I believe people should check out.
How does this tie in with Amy Cooper and the modern "Karen"? Well, it goes back to what Amy Cooper said, "I'm going to call the cops and tell them that an African-American man is threatening my life". Instead of just placing the dog on the leash, she instead decided to turn the tides by using the Black man as a scapegoat. She understood that she as a White woman, had an undocumented power over Black men in particular, and maybe even Black people, due to history given her that option. This is no different than Ann Taylor. However, times have changed drastically from those days.
Are there some solutions for Karens?
Towns aren't being burned down anymore but people are liable to be hurt by the actions of "Karens". So, how do we stop this? How do we change the trajectory of the "Karen"? I would say continue to call it out when you see it. Support the brand in that we are doing our part in working on solutions for serious incidents caused by "Karens". Also, check on the C.A.R.E.N. Act of San Francisco. Do the research first, don't just take my word for it because of this well written blog. Do the research and Make it Happen!
Here are the links to the CNN articles on 1) How Karen became a Meme, and What Real Life Karens Think About It. 2) San Francisco official proposes C.A.R.E.N Act, making racially biased calls illegal. Please check it out and comment. Thanks. Peace.
Will have to Copy & PASTE Links: