As we entered the 2020s, an unfortunate phenomenon took hold: Karens. Now, white women finding any excuse to self-victimize is not a new concept. What is new is the public’s ability to document these moments of abject caucasity.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen video after video of Karens losing their collective mind at Black and brown people having a barbeque, going to the pool, or simply doing their job. (Sidenote: Can you believe that BBQ Karen was five years ago?) While we’ve seen numerous videos of Karens indulging in their white privilege, we very rarely see the aftermath of these incidents. Fear not, reader. Today I bring you glad tidings of Karens who messed around and found out. In this case, found out means they got arrested.
Miya Ponsetto aka SoHo Karen
Obviously we have to discuss Miya Ponsetto, the infamous SoHo Karen. Now, it’s generally agreed that Karens usually reach their final form in middle age. I guess that makes Ponsetto the Goku of Karens because at only 23 she took her spot in the Karen Hall of Fame. In December 2020, Ponsetto harassed the then 14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr. and his father at the Arlo Hotel in SoHo. She believed Harrold stole her phone and physically assaulted a child over an iPhone. Turns out, she left her phone in an Uber and traumatized a child for no good reason. After a rather bizarre interview with Gayle King, Ponsetto was arrested in January 2021 and charged with unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime, aggravated harassment and endangering the welfare of a child. She eventually plead guilty to the harassment charge, with the consequences simply being that she has to stay out of trouble for two years. After her initial brush with infamy, Ponsetto has stayed surprisingly quiet. I was genuinely expecting her to make the round on red pill podcasts arguing that she was the real victim in all this. Maybe she actually learned something, who knows.
Karen Turner, Anti-Mask Karen
A Karen actually named Karen? Y’all know I had to throw this on the list. In many ways, the pandemic illuminated all of our true selves for better and worse. While we saw essential workers and first responders put the country on their back, we also saw a litany of folks lose their minds at the idea of having to sacrifice for the collective good. The latter group includes Karen Turner, a white woman from Cleveland who felt wearing a mask somehow violated her freedom or something.
In January 2021, Turner went to a Marc’s grocery store without a mask. When employees informed her of the store’s mask policy and asked her to leave, she refused and made a seen. Eventually the employees called the cops. Now, I’m willing to bet that this woman is of the “Blue Lives Matter” persuasion, but that didn’t stop her from continuing her belligerent behavior when the police officers arrived. She refused to leave or provide identification to the officers which eventually led to her arrest. Turner was charged with misdemeanor criminal trespassing, resisting arrest, and failure to disclose information. She plead no contest and was fined, but because Karens gotta flex that privilege, she refused to enter the court to pay those fines because they had a mask mandate.
Some people just never learn.
Claudia Emanuele: Sidewalk Karen
Claudia Emanuele is an elderly woman who could’ve saved herself a world of trouble by simply being polite or saying “No thank you, I’m fine.” Tameka Bordeaux, a then-40 year old Black woman, was exiting her apartment in New Jersey when she saw Emanuele talking with a postal worker. Emanuele was newer to the neighborhood at the time, so Bordeaux stopped to offer some neighborly advice and was greeted with slur after slur. Why Karens keep trying it with Black women, I will never know.
Bordeaux understood she clearly wasn’t wanted and began to leave when Emanuele followed her. Bordeaux went on Facebook Live to document the tirade, which did nothing to stop Emanuele from continuing to follow and harass her. Eventually other people in the community took notice of what was happening and did their best to intervene. Emanuele left but the damage was done and most importantly documented. Shortly after the incident Emanuele was arrested and charged with bias intimidation and harassment. Bordeaux said in an interview with PIX11 that the incident had an adverse affect on her mental health as it reminded her what her grandparents went through in the Jim Crow south.
“That’s why it was traumatizing. I broke down, because those words are connected into some history,” Bordeaux said.
It’s unclear what consequences she faced after arrest, but I’m sure yelling racial slurs on the sidewalk didn’t endear Emanuele to her neighbors. In fact I’m willing to bet that she probably has the nickname “that racist lady,” in her community should she still be living there.
Sarah Jean Allen, Anti TikTok Karen
Now, I can’t even front. I’m increasingly annoyed by the sheer amount of Main Character Syndrome that’s been unleashed due to a desire to go viral on TikTok and YouTube. Why be good at something when you can just be annoying? That said, this is not a case of a TikToker doing something obnoxious. In fact, Bianca Figueroa was actually trying to be courteous to Sarah Jean Allen. Figueroa was walking down a sidewalk with her children when she saw Allen approaching her. She politely moved out of the way, and instead of saying “thank you,” or just moving along, Allen told Figueroa “As you should.”
If there is one lesson AMC Theaters taught me as a child, it’s that silence is golden. It costs absolutely nothing to keep to yourself. Many a Karen could save themselves so much trouble if they just followed this simple principle. Of course, white womanhood is built upon self-victimization so this was never an option for Allen.
Figueroa took umbrage with Allen’s tone, and told her she was being rude. Instead of apologizing she hit every note in the Karen playbook. She went racist by threatening to call ICE and when told that was racist asked if Figueroa and her family were triggered. She then physically assaulted Figueroa, began yelling for help as though she was the victim, and then tried to run off and use her white tears to convince bystanders she was the victim. Since systemic racism will always do its thing, her tactic almost worked, but when the police arrived and saw the footage on Figueroa’s phone, they saw Allen was the assailant and promptly arrested her.
Rita Bellew aka Pizza Karen
Our last Karen takes us to Hatboro, Pa., where simply hearing Spanish on TV was enough to set Rita Bellew off on a racist tirade. Earlier this year, Bellew went to Amy’s Family Pizzeria in Hatboro to pick up a pizza. The folks working at the pizzeria had Telemundo playing on a TV behind the service counter. Apparently for Bellew, hearing Spanish on TV is the equivalent to the Winter Soldier’s trigger words. Instead of throwing hands with Avengers, though, Bellew went on a racist tirade against the employees and owner. They began filming the incident when she refused to take her money back because it was “dirty.” She threatened to have them kicked out of town and called them illegal immigrants. The police eventually arrived, arrested Bellew, and charged her misdemeanor ethnic intimidation.
I just can’t imagine being so pressed over some Telemundo I catch a case over it. First, I can always get down with some Caso Cerrado, and second, as an Afro-Latino who’s lived around Mexicans and Spanish-speaking folks my whole life it is not uncommon for Second Generation Americans to be bilingual. Bellew really took some Olympic level leaps of logic to justify her racism.
But also, like, does she not watch movies with subtitles? Imagine getting yelled at and being called un-American for watching Godzilla Minus One (which you really should do, it’s easily a top three movie this year).
While random acts of caucasity have become increasingly common, at least the perpetrators have consistently faced social, financial, and in this case legal consequences. Heck, earlier this month a Karen in Utah was arrested for harassing her neighbors. I don’t think folks should be defined by their worst moment. Actions should always have consequences, but if a person is willing to show contrition, take accountability, and actually grow from their mistakes that should be celebrated. Sadly, Karens seem to lack the self-awareness to go about that route, so their mistakes will largely be the defining moment of their lives. Couldn’t be me, that’s all I’m saying.
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