The Karen who pays lip service

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 stepped down from your D&I responsibilities, leaving your Black colleague to lead that work alone. 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:

  • Taking a “break” from the work of anti-racism when it gets challenging or you get bored, as only a white person can do
  • Forcing labor onto a Black person without their consent, as your ancestors did for hundreds of years 
  • Disavowal of responsibilities, both at work and in the work of dismantling white supremacy; blaming your willful ignorance on your hair and eye color
  • Lack of awareness of the power and privilege you hold (see above point) and your particular responsibility to engage in this work
  • Demonstrating a “persecution complex” through your dramatic assessment of yourself as the victim in this situation 
  • Setting a Black colleague up to fail, then attempting to discredit  her work after she picked up the pieces you left behind
  • Centering yourself and what you feel is important (deciding your other work responsibilities were more important than your colleague’s – or than the work of advancing equity in your workplace)
  • Concern-trolling; following up about something days later, pretending to care 
  • Inability to name white supremacy and one’s own role in it, or communicate directly with your Black colleague about your refusal to participate

Furthermore, while we aren’t aware of how you were assigned to be Chair of a D&I taskforce in the first place, it is concerning that you took your leadership role so lightly, particularly since you had an existing relationship with the person you harmed most by shirking your duties. There is much anti-racism work to be done on your part before stepping into a leadership role again, and we feel we should mention that this work must be done on your own. DO NOT ask a person of color how or where to start – that’s what your internet access is for. 

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


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