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  • Writer's pictureJames Frater

Karen Kulture

The Karen trend has been something I have observed for a while, and I have struggled to understand why it has bothered me so much. Until I had my eureka moment. As always, these posts are all a product of an idea in my head and I hope everyone can follow.

I really hate the fact that we refer to white women who try to take the law into their own hands as ‘Karen’. It works to trivialise a very serious and unnerving pattern. The most recent case – at the time of writing this – is the case of Amy Cooper or ‘The Central Park Karen’.

These white women are very aware of the position they play in society. They are positioned to be ‘protected’ by the white man. History shows us that black men have been incarcerated for years for ‘startling’ white women, for making them feel uncomfortable or for looking at them for too long. We also have everyday testimonies from black womxn who recount how white women have weaponised their tears when confronted or challenged, to the detriment of these black womxn.

“The Negro is an example of animal man in all his savagery and lawlessness" – G. M. F. Hegel

‘Karen’ can be very dangerous, and they should be viewed as such. The example I am focusing on is the way they weaponise the law and use it with the aim of inflicting violence – and/or death – upon black men in particular. I find a number of things incredibly chilling. In separate videos, there is a clear pattern in which these women know exactly how to act and know exactly what to say. These women clearly state (falsely) that they’re being attacked by an African American/black man. They are aware that within the systems that exist, ‘black man’ is often synonymous with physically strong, aggressive and violent.

I would like to give some examples:

The story of Archie Williams: a feel-good ending for some, but a bitter reminder for others (me). This is a story of a man that was sentenced to life in prison without parole because he was charged with the rape and attempted murder of a white woman. 37 years later, DNA evidence proved – within minutes - that he was innocent, and a serial rapist was implicated.

Another example. For those who have seen ‘Just Mercy’ you will be aware of the Walter McMillian case where he was given the death penalty because he was accused of murdering an 18-year-old white girl. There was no evidence, except the testimonies of coerced and intimidated witnesses. He was put on death row as a result and was only exonerated because of the relentless effort of Bryan Stevenson.

A lot of people have heard of Emmett Till. He was a 14-year-old boy who was severely beaten, mutilated and shot after being accused of offending a white woman in a grocery store. Even with the severity of the murder, his murderers - J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant - were acquitted. It was later revealed that the woman had lied.

The examples I have already given are all horrific in their own way, but I think about this one often. It’s the case of George Stinney, a 14-year-old black boy who was executed by electric chair after being convicted of the murder of two white girls. He is still the youngest person ever to be executed by electric chair in the US, and it only took 10 minutes to convict him. To make this worse, George – a child – was left to die alone because his family were forcefully run out of town.

I wish these were exceptional cases, but there are many more that follow this very clear pattern. A white woman who has been – or has claimed to have been - hurt in some way, and a defenceless black man (or boy) who has been implicated because of his blackness.

The systems in place (rightly) work to protect white women/girls, but the same systems implicate black people – including children - just because they exist. These ‘Karens’ are clearly aware of this, which is why so many feel emboldened to call law enforcement and are confident that their tears and words are enough evidence, even with contradictory video evidence. This is only one small – but incredibly dangerous – symptom of a flawed system that was only built to serve the interests of ‘whiteness’.

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