The Karen who gaslights the Black Students Matter union

Dear “Karen,” 

My Karen Translator is a service for BIPOC 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 you chastised a group of Black teenage girls for “being disruptive” because they started a Black Students Matter union at the school you lead. Then, you proceeded to talk about your commitment to these students on a recent podcast that may have fooled listeners into believing your anti-racist efforts and support for these young women were genuine. We’re here to give you an opportunity to reflect on this 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:

  • Misogynoir; leveraging your unique position of power to oppress young, Black women leaders before they’ve reached adulthood and in doing so, upholding the long legacy of white women weaponizing their privilege against Black people with, often, deadly force  
  • Perpetuating the long history of erasure of the work and efforts made by cis, trans and femme women of color (refusing to cite the BSM union in your latest podcast debut)
  • Fake allyship; publicly condemning racism and then turning around and knowingly allowing it to happen under your supervision
  • Gatekeeping; dismissing the incredible anti-racist efforts being made despite having the work and plans all laid out for you 
  • Making the wicked attempt to stamp out the wisdom, creativity and bravery of young revolutionaries 
  • Ignorance of the fact that these young women are protesting for their right to live and at the same time putting their lives at risk to do so given the omnipresence of the school-to-prison pipeline 
  • Positioning yourself to benefit from the tireless, creative and critical work of young Black women while simultaneously tempering and demeaning their voices and effort to do the work you should already been doing
  • Demonstrating your leadership is name only, lazily leaving the work of creating a safe and affirming school culture to your students who are already managing so much in this COVID-19 era

Furthermore, students are supposed to look up to the leaders in their school and find role models to help shape their minds and development. What you’re doing is causing what too many Black and brown people have had to do: come face to face with the harsh realities that the people who should be protecting and supporting you, just won’t. They can actually harm you. Your actions are not the beginning and, unfortunately, not the end of the interactions with problematic white women these students will face. This cycle must stop. Period.

Finally, we took the time to listen to the podcast you were featured in and recommend you start by working down the list and following through with the plethora of presumptuous statements you made in regards to your leadership:

  • Work with BSM to ensure the school is a “can do place” where “no opportunity is off limits”
  • Support the “budding strong leaders” at the school who you claim to care about 
  • “When you do get a seat at the table – bring another chair”, please Karen!
  • “Meet with the Black/POC/LGBQT+ alumni” to make reparations for the long history of racism embedded within the walls of that school  
  • Give credit to BSM whenever you mention the “anti-racist statement and action plan”
  • “Accountability” – show it.
  • “Lean into discomfort”- do it. 
  • Always “encourage those voices” that speak out against oppression  
  • Instead of simply “acknowledg[ing] that [you] do have a group of girls who want to see policy change” – name them, listen to their demands and set a date for when the new policies will be in place  
  • Don’t say “American activism” when the only thing truly “American” in this context is the white supremacist systems and structures that deny BIPOC basic human rights

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.

For the My Karen Translator community: Take over the comment section below with an overwhelming affirmation and encouragement to these incredible young leaders who are doing their part – above and beyond, to create space not only for themselves, but for countless others to learn in a safe environment that affirms their genius and worth. 


My Karen Translator


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