The Karen Next Door

Dear “Karen,” 

My Karen Translator is a service for Black people dealing with everyday racism from colleagues, friends, family, acquaintances and more. My Karen Translator aims to shift the burden of education and growth onto white people who have, consciously or unconsciously, acted out white supremacy in any number of ways.

We were recently informed that you assumed your neighbor, a person of color, could not or would not follow building codes. We are here to give you an opportunity to reflect on this interaction with the shared goal of fighting white supremacy everywhere it arises, including within oneself. 

We found this incident to have the following “Karen-like” (white normative, white-centric, white supremacist) characteristics:

  • Passive aggressive tone: implying threat of action without naming the threat, feigning an “interest” in “rule-following” rather than clearly stating what your problem is
  • Entitlement: assuming you have the right to know everything on demand (“what will it look like and what color will it be? How much privacy will we lose?” – how does someone even answer the second question?)
  • Assumption of power, righteousness, and ability to give direction (“Perhaps you could move your shed that probably wasn’t supposed to be that close anyway and continue your hedge.”)

In addition, policies and practices involving land ownership and property rights are some of the most enduring ways Black, Indigenous and other people of color have been lied to, denied full citizenship, segregated, contained, and suppressed from economic mobility over hundreds of years. Please refrain from participating in the continuation of these practices. 

Lastly, we are going to proactively address your defensiveness at receiving this letter: you do not exist in a vacuum universe where your actions are untethered to history, current events or complex systems of inequality designed to be invisible to those who benefit from them. It is likely you feel your actions had nothing to do with race, while your neighbor understands they had everything to do with race. It is not your intent that matters here, it is the reality of your impact. 

We hope this experience inspires you to act more boldly against racism anywhere it arises and join the life-long fight for racial equity and Black liberation.


My Karen Translator


If you have questions or complaints, please email

1 thought on “The Karen Next Door

  1. najeeb khan

    Wow Thank you so much for putting into to words how we feel about this Karen! Well done!


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