Suck it Up, Karen: Our History of Using Our Wyte Tears as Weapons
A few years back, the insult "Karen" became a thing we applied to white women who were telling on people. Calling managers, mall security, the police, or other government officials. Tattling on adults and children of color, mostly. We Karens were tattling to authority for any perceived slight- if we FELT uncomfortable or threatened, if we WONDERED if someone belonged where they were, if we did something nefarious or criminal and needed someone to blame. We knew we were protected and they weren't. We have presumed innocence and authority. We belong almost everywhere. If we're upset, we cry foul. We cry. The tears of a white woman have murdered many a man.
The anniversary of Emmett Till's murder was this weekend- it's an important date in the Civil Rights movement- August 28, 1955. It's been 66 years since that sweet-faced fourteen year-old was brutally tortured and slain while he was visiting cousins in Mississippi from his home in Chicago. We know who the killers were. We always knew. They stood trial, but it was a joke- by all accounts even the jury was laughing- they acquitted them in less than an hour. The men later admitted their guilt in an article- and were paid money for it. The men, and their wives, became local heroes, in fact. They were so supported that five attorneys offered to represent them in that joke court case, pro bono.
The men who used fists and guns to mutilate that poor child are dead, but the Karen who lied and said he whistled at her, setting her husband and brother-in-law on him in violence? She's not. She's alive and well. She's since admitted to a biographer that he never touched her, that she made it up. She's never faced any penalty at all for her major roll in the murder.
There have always been brutal men supporting white supremacy, but there have also always been tearful, brutal white women encouraging and benefiting from it.
There's a little backlash now when white women do our thing- when we start a fight in a mall and blame the Black shopper when security comes, when we call the cops on fucking bird watchers for fuck sake(!!!) or on people having picnics, or walking through neighborhoods, or whatever.
I support the idea of penalizing these women for wasting tax-payer money, but also, knowing that we're operating from inside a white supremacist, violent policing system- we should be held accountable for the potential danger we're putting BIPOC in by shedding our tears and dialing our phones. Even this ancient case doesn't need to rest- we can still ask the Karen involved to answer for her crimes.
For anyone who has an issue with the "Karen" thing and thinks it's insulting, offensive, racist against white people (not a thing) or whatever- stop. Just sit with me and own our crimes of the past and present, and work on ridding ourselves and our houses of white supremacy. We're not excusing men here- men are their own violent, murdering mess and, yes, we're often at their mercy, but sometimes we're their instigators, we use our pseudo/approximate power to protect and elevate ourselves and it's dangerous bullshit. So, yes, get mad. But not at being called a Karen. Good Lord, no. Get mad at all the shit our kind has done before you and the violent weakness we still display today. Get mad at our history. Get mad at Carolyn Bryant for accusing that little boy of impropriety that led to his gruesome, horrifying murder. Get mad when you think of his poor family, his poor mom, having to survive that trauma. Get mad at the system and fix the system from inside it, because although we aren't the top of the dog-pile, we're close, and we often holding the leashes.
Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels