I Can Say ‘Karen’ – My Best Friend Is White

It seems like, in the world of social justice, there’s always another controversy. Words that were once totally acceptable suddenly become forbidden, at least forbidden to some. And while I’m normally down with the cause, lots of so-called activists just take it way too far sometimes. If I would never use a specific word to hurt anyone, why shouldn’t I be able to say it? No one around me, not even those closest to me, have any problem with it! That’s why I believe that I have the right to say ‘karen,’ given that my best friend is a white woman.


I have faced oppression. I also recognize that I have never been at the receiving end of the vitriolic and frankly dangerous utterance that is the word ‘karen.’ As a Black woman, I cannot think of a word more offensive, more demeaning, and more based upon an immutable characteristic with a clearly-defined history of directly causing discrimination, violence, bondage, and even death than the k-word. But I would never call anyone a karen, so why can’t I just say it casually? You know, like for fun?


My best friend wouldn’t even mind, she’s told me before.



I’ve even heard women calling each other ‘karens.’ And you hear it in the media all the time: in movies, on television, in a ton of music. White women have reappropriated the word. They have stripped it of its power. And that means that, even if I did call someone a ‘karen,’ (which I wouldn’t if I didn’t have my white best friend’s explicit permission), then it’s not an offensive thing. And I certainly never mean it in an offensive way! In fact, I even called my white friend a ‘karen’ the other day in front of her mom, who is also a ‘karen.’ Her mom seemed a little pissed and asked to speak to my manager, but my friend didn’t care at all!


Also, I think it should be acknowledged that not all white women are ‘karens.’ When I call someone a ‘karen,’ I’m talking about a very specific kind of white woman. You know, the hairstyle, the clothes, the attitude, the music they listen to, the disregard for anyone around them besides other ‘karens,’ you get the picture. Not all ‘karens’ are even white women! Anyone can be one. I’ve never called a non-white woman a ‘karen,’ but trust me, you know one when you see one.


Look, I’m just saying that I don’t think it’s fair that I should have to censor myself on a word that others can say freely. When one group is allowed to do something another cannot: that is privilege. And I’d know, because me and my white best friend talk about privilege all the time. You wouldn’t know her. She goes to a different school.