Calling all Karens

A couple of weeks ago, a video [1] was released of a white woman reporting a black man to the police because he asked her to put her dog on a leash in New York’s Central Park. The woman’s tone and choice of words (and her apology and admission of harm, which followed) demonstrate a deliberate move on her part to incite the legacy of police brutality in order to intimidate the man who made the request.

Recently, the name “Karen” was co-opted in race discourse to describe white women who exhibit the kind of racism demonstrated by the woman in the Central Park incident. “Karens” are middle and upper-class white women who act in seemingly innocuous ways that cause incredible harm to people of colour.

Just last week, the Honourable Janet Austin, OMC Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia launched the #differenttogether pledge.[2] On the eve of Pentecost, our own Archbishop Melissa Skelton issued a pastoral message [3] to “strengthen our commitment to working on the racism that we ourselves carry within us.”

In the light of these calls, I want to say to all of the white women out there and especially to the white women in my own Christ Church Cathedral community: it’s long been time to deal with the ways we uphold structures of white supremacy in society. We are “Karen” and it’s time to address the racism we are responsible for. This summer I’ll be reading Robin DiAngelo’s, White Fragility. I implore you to join me.

If you’ve ever said, “I don’t see colour, I see people,” this book is for you.

If you think the term “Karens” is sexist or unfeminist, this book is for you.

If you’ve ever claimed that you “don’t make choices based on skin colour, but on skillset,” this book is for you.

If you’ve ever held your purse a little tighter when a person of colour passes you on the street, this book is for you.

If you think advocating for LGBTQ issues means you are automatically aware of racial bias, this book is for you.

If you own property in Vancouver, this book is for you.

If your “summer beach reads” include some light historical fiction from a certain turn of the century when white classes ruled and people of colour still didn’t have the right to vote, this book is for you.

If you think, “we’re fortunate that racism isn’t a problem in Canada,” this book is for you.

Introducing White Fragility, a Cathedral book club for white women who think we’re progressive. Email to sign up.

[1]  Amy Cooper is the kind of white woman black families warn their children about;

[2]  #DifferentTogether: Join Me in Opposing Racism;

[3] Pastoral Message Regarding Racism: Pastoral message from Archbishop Skelton on the Eve of Pentecost;