Am I Karen?

I fit the demographic. I have become very angry when something did not go exactly as I anticipated. I have vented frustration on a person in a service job. I have corrected someone because they were not following the rules.

For the past two weeks I have spent a lot of time thinking, reading, listening and having conversations about the racial divide in this country that has hit a breaking point. I have pondered my role in the divisiveness.

Self introspection is scary. It is difficult to admit that you have been a part of a problem. Self introspection shows you that you do not live the perfect life you have carefully curated on social media. Self introspection is moving beyond the good vibes only, light and love and other yoga catch phrases and actually showing up to do the work. Self introspection is moving beyond self improvement, it is facing personal beliefs and actions that cause harm.

Part of my explorations around the issues of race in the United States lead me to explore the Karen culture, women who throw tantrums in stores, demand the manager or call the police on black peoples, usually in public spaces. While both laughing at the audacity of these women and being appalled at their behavior, something sparked. I saw the Karen in me.

From my reading and viewing of videos, I saw patterns in Karen behavior:
She is primarily a white, middle aged and middle/upper middle class
She feels that she is the keeper of the rules in the park, the parking lot, restaurant, store and community.
She feels that her job, husband or time spent in a community entitles her to being the rule keeper while also making her exempt from the rules
She HATES being told no or, even worse, being told what to do
She does not take no as an answer
She is the personification of privilege.

I can see how some women, myself included, become Karen to maintain some form of control in a quickly changing world. Her angry self-righteousness is a is a cry to be seen, heard, acknowledged, valued and safe. Karen behavior is triggered by fear. The police have gone from providing safety from harm to being called for safety from uncertainty and fear.

For the two past weeks I have been noticing my thoughts and impulses to correct a stranger for not following the rules. I have recognized my privilege. I recognized my fear and how I have used it justified ugly behavior.

I will continue to show up and do the work of opening my years and learning. My practice has taught me to sit with what I find uncomfortable both on the mat and in my life. It is uncomfortable to explore my fear and other triggers that elicit my privileged outrage. My outrage has been misguided. Arbitrary rules that only protect the creature comforts of the Karens are not worth fighting for, not now or in the future.

What is happening in the world with a pandemic and protests about police violence and disparity in the United States is a demand for change on a grand scale. These times call for more than self improvement and kindness. Self-introspection and education are important to change, because both challenge beliefs and lay bare false narratives. It is time to look and act beyond my privileged world.

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