Police brutality and racial discrimination is a daily reality for any non-white citizensB trying to go about their daily lives in the US. Social media has catapulted the reality of being Black in America to take centre stage, exposing a plethora of all too entitled Americans racially profiling innocent passersby who they’ve deemed to be causing some kind of disturbance.. We know these perpetrators online as ‘Karens’.
Initially a harmless internet meme that poked fun at self-obsessed suburban American mothers who sport that haircut, always ask to speak to the manager, and have a serious issue with e-scooters, the term has now come to encompass anyone who seeks to obstruct or question people going about their business, more often than not because of unjust racial profiling.
Thanks to global movements like Black Lives Matter, legislature combating the problem has begun to finally surface and take shape, with San Francisco being a forerunner for progress, with its bill from 2020, the Caren Act.
The Caution Against Racial and Exploitative Non-Emergencies Act, abbreviated to Caren, is a play on the internet-appointed term for the bigots so often caught on film, who exploit their privilege by calling the police on innocent people trying to do simple things like barbeque, birdwatch, sell lemonade, or drive their car.
The bill aims to make the placing of racially-motivated 911 calls without legitimate merit or good reason a hate crime. POCs targeted by the calls made with racist intent now have the ability to sue those involved, provided the call can be proven to have been made on baseless grounds.
The act came at a time of great social upheaval in the US and has helped to grant power to those affected by these relentless attacks. However, the years that have followed have proven that the issue of Karens isn’t going away anytime soon, and the countless viral videos that have surfaced since the act was passed are making us wonder why this bill hasn’t been extended to the federal level.
If you need proof that the problem of Karens requires strong legislative backing, look no further than this video which was posted to Reddit on 15 May 2023. In the clip, we see a white woman painting herself out to be the victim, despite the fact that she’s trying to use someone else’s rented e-bike. Calls for help and tears become weaponised, and ultimately put the young Black men in a very dangerous situation.
This TikTok, posted only three days ago, shows a lady calling the police on a group of nannies who’re supervising children in a park. Her reasoning? Because “they aren’t from around here.” The incident took place in Maryland, but due to the lack of widespread implementation of the Caren Act, the woman in question will invariably be let off without even so much as a warning.
This next video from February shows an altercation between a Black woman in her car and, you guessed it, none other than a Karen calling the police. It’s unclear what the accuser’s problem actually is but from the video, she seems to be stuck on the phrase: “Cloth on your steering wheel!” Naturally, the woman filming tries to ignore the Karen freaking out beside her car, but this proves difficult when she sticks her fingers into her pocket, miming a gun.
It doesn’t take an expert to recognise how incredibly frustrating and infuriating this scenario is, particularly considering the amount of unarmed Black individuals who’ve been murdered by police because the authorities claimed they were holding a gun when they actually weren’t.
Sometimes it’s not Karen—it’s Ken. This video from May shows a grown man harassing a group of teenagers who are trying to film a music video inside of a mall. The caucasian Ken becomes immediately aggressive, using slurs and discriminatory language against the group. It’s become evident that Karens clearly aren’t alone in this hate-fuelled crusade.
How much more evidence do we as a society need to witness to accurately prove just how important pieces of legislation like the Caren Act are in helping attempt to protect marginalised communities in the US?