This is Not a White Karen Woman

I have to admit the whole Karen thing frightens me. As a white woman, I don’t want to end up on youtube for complaining about cold coffee on a hot day to a minimum wage struggling college student.

A few months ago, at a local shop, I got into line. As there were three lines, I chose the shortest line. This is practical and makes sense to me. Yet a woman in the longest line began to call over to me. “That line’s not open. There’s only one line. You have to go to the end of this line.”

I leaned over to the cashier – because I was only the 2nd person in that line – and asked, “Is this line open? Is there only one line?”The clerk appeared confused and glanced around, “No, there’s three lines.” I stayed in line.

The woman, yes, a white woman, probably middle class, bright eyes, lovely skin, hair in braids, got out of the long line to come over and inform me, once again, that there was only one line and that I needed to go back to the very long line because “it wasn’t fair.”

I told her I’d asked the cashier and, indeed, there were three lines. This annoyed the woman. She grew a little louder, more insistent, trying to engage me. I ignored her. I felt the click of cell phone cameras everywhere. She grew more insistent, “You can see how unfair this. You know you should go to the back of that line.”

I finally raised my hand between us and offered, “I will not engage with you.”

A gasp of disappointment rose to the ceiling. Wouldn’t the internet have loved that?! Two Karen’s going at it in a DIY while buying plants and pots, unneeded glassware, a light fixture.

It was early. I was tired. It was hot. I really did not feel like fighting because I was smart enough to get into the shortest line.

HOWEVER, sometimes I do want my coffee hot or my tea cold. I want to feel free enough to lean over the counter and say something, but I don’t want to be the next victim of Karen fame.

I guess, maybe, it’s the way we engage. I complained about a postal delivery. Not having any luck over the phone, I went in. I never received my package, but the post office maintained their “GPS proves it was scanned at my door.”

When I went in, the post master said, “I don’t know what to tell you, the GPS… ” I felt the cell phone cameras click on over my shoulder. I informed him what google said about gps’s accuracy limitations. He shrugged. “What do you want me to do about it?” I smiled, spoke softly. “Maybe find out who delivered the package and see if they made an error.” Another sloped shoulder shrug. I consider the postal shootings of the 80s. Even softer, even smilier, “You guys keep track of that, right? If you have gps, you know who scanned it.” I shouldn’t have to ask someone to do their job, but this is the world we live in.

I recently came across a cell phone video of a woman losing it at a fast food drive thru. I wanted to link it, but there are so many “Karen loses it at drive-thru” that I couldn’t find the right one. I did save a screenshot of the original when I saw it.

Officially, this is not a Karen. A Karen is defined as a middle class white woman upset because she’s not getting the privilege she believes she deserves. The woman pictured is most likely not middle class or upper middle class. Most middle class women do not dye their hair pink nor do they get out of their beaters to hang their bodies into a drive thru window and batter the tea dispenser while berating workers.

Everyone is posting videos of women (and men!) freaking out, and calling them Karens. Some of these “Karens” aren’t even white! Can we limit it? Find a new name? I feel bad for my friends named Karen – sweet, wonderful women. Who decided this Karen thing? Can’t we use Denise? I don’t know any Denise’s. Maybe Mable. No one’s named Mable anymore. Don’t those names signify a middle class white woman? Mable sounds nice though, she’d probably never freak out. And Denise sounds pretty calm, a Denise would probably never scream at a minimum wage clerk.

The woman in DIY didn’t seem like a Karen. Maybe a Kate or Jane, but not a Karen. The post master didn’t look like a Karen. He appeared to be a lazy Larry.

The truth is we’ve all been living in hell for the last 18 months. We’re all a little on edge. Some more than others. Some of the videos are obviously depicting people with a mental illnesses. Some people are dealing with that last straw – you know the one that broke the camel’s back? Humans have been stretched thin in the last FIVE years. We all lose it once in awhile. It’s terrible to take it out on others. But there are better ways to handle these outbursts than filming people at their worst.

I’m tired of the who Karen thing. Can we Bye Felicia it? Can we move on and make up something new now?

2 thoughts on “This is Not a White Karen Woman

  1. I agree. Karen seems inappropriate. I like Heather or Tiffany. I love the old fashioned names. Sarah, Anne, Emily- Noreen. These time honored names, along with Karen, should be sacrosanct. Maybe Krystal or Jasmin. I can see a Heather getting rabid over a Black male bird watcher in Central Park.


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