Posted on April 29, 2020

The ‘Karen’ Memes and Jokes Aren’t Sexist or Racist. Let a Karen Explain.

Karen Attiah, Washington Post, April 28, 2020

My name is Karen. I would like to register a complaint.

My name has been everywhere on the Internet in recent weeks, with #Karen trending on Twitter, flooding TikTok and becoming the subject of social media memes. #AndThenKarenSnapped also became a viral trend, describing white women losing their tempers. In the past several years, “Karen” has come to represent a certain archetype of middle-aged white female privilege — or the new n-word, depending on who you ask. Yup, “Karen” is the new black.

A young Karen likely would have been the class snitch, tattling on her classmates to the teacher to get them in trouble. Middle-aged Karen is the one asking to see your manager. And a Karen at the peak of her powers will call the police on someone for a mild inconvenience.

The most recent Karen fires came from across the Atlantic, fanned by white British women claiming that “Karen” is — wait for it — an oppressive slur. “Does anyone else think the ‘Karen’ slur is woman-hating and based on class prejudice?” tweeted Julie Bindel, a British feminist writer, whose credentials in oppression include being known for espousing anti-trans rhetoric. Nonetheless, the conversation around Bindel’s tweet included white women who did feel Karen memes were offensive. Hadley Freeman wrote in the Guardian that the Karen memes were sexist. Another viral tweet went so far as to call “Karen” the equivalent of the n-word.

As a millennial black Karen, and a child of immigrants, I find the brouhaha hilarious and twisted. “Karen” is not and will never be an oppressive slur. Anyone who disagrees can take it up with my manag … — I mean, with history.


Dehumanizing slurs don’t gain their cruel power overnight. They are part and parcel of generations of violence, erasure and discrimination. Calling the Karen meme the new n-word or asserting that it is a sexist slur only trivializes actual violence and discrimination that destroy lives and communities.

And to invent oppression when none is happening to you? Well, as a Karen, I just have to say — that is peak Karen behavior.