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How Karen became a meme, and what Karens thought in real life



Lisa Nakamura is the director of the Digital Studies Institute at the University of Michigan, and has studied feminist theory and digital media theory.

In addition to the shared first name, Sun – a 23-year-old Chinese-American – does not exactly fit the stereotype of a middle-class white woman, who uses Sun’s words, acting like she “can” get whatever she wants. “

But Sun, who has spent years working in the fast food industry, has found a fair “Karens” section.

But where do these terms come from, and what do they represent? And what does it mean for people of color, people like Sun, who find themselves sharing names with this stereotype?

How the term “Karen” began

Although these names have recently been popularized, thanks to the power of Twitter Black culture, these names are not new.

Not just “Karen,” of course. There are also names like “Becky,” which also came to symbolize certain vaginal stereotypes. And Susan. And Chad.

André Brock is a professor at Georgia Tech, and he spent years studying the intersection of race and digital culture.

The modern iteration of these names comes from entertainment, he said. Even comedian Dane Cook, a little from 2005, used “Karen” as a joke, as a substitute for a friend that nobody really liked.

Brock also referenced Sir Mix-A-Lot’s 1992 hit, “Baby Got Back” as an example. The introduction of the song begins with a reference to “Becky,” who insults an unnamed black woman: “Oh my God, Becky, look at her ass. It’s very big. She looks like one of those rap people.” girlfriend. “

And who can forget the Beyoncé icon “You should call Becky with good hair” from her album “Lemonade” in 2016?

But history goes back even further. Black people, he said, also have names for white people who want to be responsible but actually have no control over them.

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Miss Ann is an example, since slavery. That is a name specifically used by black slaves to refer to white women who want to exert power over them – powers they do not really have, Brock said.

So even though the names have changed now – we have largely replaced “Miss Ann” with “Becky” and “Karen” – the idea behind the names is still the same.

The pattern of using these basic names continues. In 2018, after a white woman called the police to a group of black people who were roasting in public parks, the term “BBQ Becky” was coined. In 2020, when Amy Cooper called the police to a black man in Central Park who asked him to tie his dog, the phrase “Karen” appeared on social media.

“It’s always about views,” Brock explained. “And the desire to control what is in view.”

In other words? It’s about the desire of some white women to exercise control over black people – just like in the slave era, like in 1992 and the same as it is today, he said.

Names like Karen, or Becky? It was an act of resistance by black people, Brock said. It names the behavior and acts as a way to get solidarity with injustice, maybe laugh at it and live your day.

What does “Karen” symbolize

For the term “Karen,” part of its appeal is that this name existed, for the most part, in ancient times. And in that case, it is a strong moniker for someone who is clearly not touched.

Just look at the baby name data from the Social Security Office. Between 1951 and 1968, the name “Karen” saw its peak – sitting enough in the top 10 for the most popular baby names in the US.

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But in 2018, the last available year, “Karen” ranked 635th in the most popular names, quite far from grace.

Lisa Nakamura is director of the Institute of Digital Studies at the University of Michigan, and has studied feminist theory and digital media theory.

“Karen is a name no one will name their child anymore,” Lisa Nakamura, director of the Institute of Digital Studies at the University of Michigan, said bluntly.

So the use of names like “Karen,” Nakamura explained, was part of finding someone, and their actions, in a regressive period of time.

That This phenomenon is demonstrated by the “BBQ Becky” incident in 2018, a viral video showing how a white woman calls the police to a group of black people who are baking in a public park, claiming that they are breaking the law. At the beginning of the video, the woman confirms herself, but in the end, when the police come, she cries, saying, “I was harassed.”

A white woman calls the police to bake black people. This is how people respond

White women – “Karens” in particular – can gather sympathy for showing their vulnerability, Brock explains, taking from the focus that they are doing something wrong and will be called to it.

“They get away with behavior that no one else will do,” he explained.

How does Karens feel about that term

So how do people named Karen feel about this?

Sun told CNN that no one ever seriously called them “Karen.” Of course it did, they said, and sometimes they used it in jest. But they don’t think it’s a slur at all.

“There is no real systemic oppression there,” they said. “That won’t prevent you from getting married, or getting health care, you just act right and be rude and that’s why you are called ‘Karen.’

Karen Sun:

Even so, Sun notes that having Karen’s name has an impact on how they navigate the world, at least the way they choose when to talk.

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Karen Shim, 23, based in Philadelphia, has a similar feeling.

Even though he knows memes or comments aren’t directed at him specifically, he says it can still feel a little personal – if only because of its name.

Now, Shim says he might not be comfortable talking in certain situations, for fear that someone might, even joking, make fun of his “Karen” movements.

But Shim, who is Korean and Chinese, also said his name was not the first thing people might judge him – it would be his race, he said.

Sun agrees.

“There is already a way I move in the world, as someone who is strange and not white,” they said. “Even with the name association, it adds another layer, but I’m not necessarily defined by that layer.”

Karen Chen, 20, based in North Carolina, told CNN that although her name association with stereotypes made her a little uncomfortable, she said she was fine with its use.

Karen Chen:

“I know that’s clearly just a name, and this doesn’t represent me at all and how people think of me,” he said.

More than the name itself, what really upsets Chen is the implication of the actions of “Karen,” and how the use of their privileges can be detrimental to marginalized groups.

Brock, though not named Karen, sums it up like this: “If you are offended by archetypes, which say more about your insecurities of being a liberal ally, than about people who use the word to describe unfair situations.”

In other words, you can become Karen without becoming “Karen.”

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Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.



Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.

Method Media Bermuda will present the documentary FABRIC: Portuguese History in Bermuda on Thursday, December 29 at the Underwater Research Institute of Bermuda.

A spokesperson said: “Method Media is proud to bring Bermuda Fabric: Portugal History to Bermuda for its 5th and 6th showing at the Bermuda Underwater Observatory. In November and December 2019, Cloth: A Portuguese Story in Bermuda had four sold-out screenings. Now that Bermuda has reopened after the pandemic, it’s time to bring the film back for at least two screenings.

“There are tickets For $ 20 – sessions at 15:30 and 18:00. Both screenings will be followed by a short Q&A session.

Director and producer Milton Raboso says, “FABRIC is a definitive account of the Portuguese community in Bermuda and its 151 years of history, but it also places Bermuda, Acors and Portugal in the world history and the events that have fueled those 151 years.

“It took more than 10 years to implement FABRIC. The film was supported by the Minister of Culture, the Government of the Azores and private donors.

Bermuda Media Method [MMB] Created in 2011 by producer Milton Raposo. MMB has created content for a wide range of clients: Bermuda’s new hospital renovation, reinsurance, travel campaigns, international sports and more. MMB pays special attention to artistic, cultural and historical content.

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Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.



Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.

Maestro Filipe Cunha, Artistic Director of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Braga, has been invited to conduct the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra, as announced today.

According to a statement sent by O MINHO, “he will be the first Portuguese conductor to conduct this orchestra in its entire history.”

In addition to this orchestra, the maestro will also work with the Lyceo Mozarteum de la Habana Symphony Orchestra.

The concerts will take place on 4 and 12 March 2023 at the National Theater of Cuba in Havana.

In the words of the maestro, quoted in the statement, “these will be very beautiful concerts with difficult but very complex pieces” and therefore he feels “very motivated”.

From the very beginning, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 will be performed by an Italian pianist (Luigi Borzillo), whom the maestro wants to bring to Portugal later this year. In the same concert, Mendelshon’s First Symphony will be performed.

Then, at the second concert, in the company of the Mexican clarinetist Angel Zedillo, he will perform the Louis Sfora Concerto No. 2. In this concert, the maestro also conducts Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.

“This is an international recognition of my work. An invitation that I accept with humility and great responsibility. I was surprised to learn that I would be the first Portuguese member of the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. This is a very great honor,” the maestro said in a statement.

“I take with me the name of the city of Braga and Portugal with all the responsibility that goes with it, and I hope to do a good job there, leaving a good image and putting on great concerts. These will be very special concerts because, in addition to performing pieces that I love, especially Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, I will be directing two wonderful soloists who are also my friends. It will be very beautiful,” concludes Filipe Cunha.

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