By Miles Jaye
Who is Karen? What has such a common given name come to represent? Fairly or unfairly, the nomenclature is inaccurate if the intention is to simply identify a person or type of person who is not well-meaning, at best, and at worst is a clear and present danger to our community. I feel a sense of regret for actual well-meaning ‘Karens’, who are decent moms, sisters, and wives of all races and cultures.
I took a chance and googled “Karen” uncertain if I would find an explanation for the slang use of the name. To my surprise, this is what I found. “Karen is a pejorative slang term for an obnoxious, angry, entitled, and often racist middle aged white woman who uses her privilege to get her way or police other people’s behavior.” Bingo!
Interestingly, along with Karen, I also found similar accounts for Becky, Stacey, and Suzie, only distinguished by assumptions about age and lifestyle. Either way, the names are now popularized for use with negative connotations. Becky, for instance, is presumed to be a younger version of Karen, clueless and insensitive in matters of race relations, but she somehow still feels entitled and superior.
My issue with the use of the slang is that aliases like Karen, Becky, and Suzie, camouflage the actual perpetrators of the indignities of false accusations, police calls, and the accompanying public embarrassment. Worse… real women fitting the “Karen” description share households and views with known racist public figures in Congress, the media, and on courts throughout the nation. They should be publicly identifiable, as easily as Michelle Obama, and open to as much scrutiny.
Call them by their names, let them bear the shame. Heidi Cruz is the wife of Ted Cruz, Jeanette Rubio is the wife of Marco Rubio, Elaine Chao is the wife of Mitch McConnell, Erin Hawley is the wife of Josh Hawley, and Patricia Lott is the wife of Trent Lott.
Black History Month is the perfect time to unwrap these cute, coined slangs, like a roll of pennies, and unravel some recent and past history of the prototypical portrait of the innocent victim. Typically, discussions of ‘Karen’ are steeped in irony and humor, but I contend, the matter is much too serious for fun and jokes.
Trump stoked the fires of the Karen issue by calling out to suburban housewives with promises of protection and safe communities, but the history of Karen in America must include wives of its slave-owning Founding Fathers– Martha Washington, Martha Jefferson, Mary Lincoln, Deborah Read Franklin, and Rachel Jackson, Andrew’s wife to name a few. Modern day candidates might include Melania and Ivanka.
No serious list of Karens would be complete without the name Carolyn Bryant Donham whose false accusations cost Emmett Till his life. Add to this list, all of the other Karen’s known and unknown, who throughout America’s bloody history, with a scream and a few streams of convincing tears, could land an unsuspecting innocent man dead, swinging from a tree limb.
Here’s the real problem… Somehow and for some inexplicable reason, we’ve been conditioned to believe, to presuppose the women in question, fitting the Karen profile, are kind and caring, vulnerable, when there is no evidence and absolutely no reason to believe they are any less vile and violent as their male counterparts– their husbands, boyfriends, sons, brothers and fathers. Pull up your phone, replay January 6th and look into the crowd. Karen is not just a nuisance quick to dial 911, she’s just as much an insurrectionist, a terrorist, as the men in that footage.
No laughs? No jokes? Good… because I don’t find it funny, at all. Time to retire the pedestal. Start prosecuting false claims, and frivolous 911 calls and watch it stop. My hope is that every woman involved in the attack on the Capitol resulting in the deaths of civilians and Capitol policemen, gets the very same treatment as the men involved. Remember, Bonnie met the same fate as Clyde.
That’s what’s on my mind!