If there’s one name that probably won’t make the most popular baby names list next year, it’s Karen. In 2020, Karen has become a kind of catch-all term for the type of (mostly) white women who proudly wield their entitlement and privilege wherever they go. Classic Karen behaviors include saying “All Lives Matter,” even after the purpose of Black Lives Matter has been explained to them 100 times, and refusing to wear a mask because of like, freedom.
Obviously, not every actual Karen displays the behaviors of a ~Karen~, and it might make you feel a certain way if your name was suddenly turned into an insult. But while most of us can recognize that a mild annoyance is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things if you’re a grown-ass adult, Domino’s Australia and New Zealand missed the memo. They came up with a promotional idea to benefit non-entitled Karens, and let’s just say it didn’t go as intended.
CALLING ALL (MASK WEARING, LAW ABIDING) KARENS! 😷🚨It’s a tough time to be a Karen. Karen the nurse, Karen the…
Posted by Domino's Australia on Monday, July 27, 2020
In the post, they say, “it’s a tough time to be a Karen,” and invite all “mask wearing, law abiding Karens” to fill out a form for a chance of getting some free pizzas. They say that “a vocal minority who believe rules and laws don’t apply to them” have ruined the name Karen for everyone else, but that “Karen the nurse, Karen the teacher, Karen the mum, Karen the neighbour, Karen the mask wearer” are “all in this together.”
Speaking about the new promotion, Domino’s regional chief marketing officer Allan Collins said, “What used to be a light-hearted meme has become quite the insult to anyone actually named Karen. Well, today we’re taking the name Karen back. At Domino’s, we’re all about bringing people together and we want to celebrate all the great Karens out there by shouting them a free pizza!”
But what the Domino’s team thought was a cute idea to get some press didn’t go over so well in the real world. While the negative qualities of a Karen certainly don’t apply to every single person with that name, people were quick to point out on Twitter that many of the people who feel targeted by this are probably… privileged white women. And even if they aren’t, having your name turned into a meme doesn’t even come close to comparing to the systemic racism and oppression experienced by Black people and other marginalized groups.
most of the time “Karens” are entitled privileged white women. If a few people actually called Karen can’t handle the meme of it they should try handling 400 years of oppression. They should try watching their people killed by police officers solely for their skin.
— ariel reyes (@aramreyess) July 29, 2020
And while giving out free pizzas to “nice Karens” is a nice thing to do, I guess, why not channel those resources to people who actually need them? Just spitballing here: Give pizzas to essential workers who don’t even make a living wage while keeping our society running through a pandemic, or give pizzas to people risking their lives to protest. When one commenter asked Domino’s NZ if they would also be giving pizzas to people in poverty, their response was comically terrible.
Sorry, who approved this comment?! There are millions of people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from, but Domino’s has chosen to direct their resources to Karens. Cool. As a company with an estimated valuation of nearly $20 billion, they could probably afford to do a little of both. The negative reaction to the campaign was so strong that Domino’s New Zealand issued an apology just a day after the initial post. They said that their post “lacked important context,” and that their “intention was one of inclusivity only,” but admitted, “we are always listening and learning and when we get it wrong, we fix it.”
We are sorry. Throughout COVID-19 we’ve tried to bring a smile to customers faces, with our pizza and our social…
Posted by Domino's New Zealand on Tuesday, July 28, 2020
But at least Domino’s New Zealand took down their post. At the time of publication, the Karen giveaway post is still live on the Domino’s Australia Facebook page, and the entry form for the giveaway can still be accessed. I guess the contest was only offensive for people in New Zealand?
When it comes down to it, “Karen” seems like a funny meme concept, but it stands for something way deeper than that. When “Park Karens” call the cops on innocent Black men, they are putting their lives at risk. When Trader Joe’s Karens throw fits about wearing masks in public, they are willfully enabling the spread of a disease that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, disproportionately Black and Brown people. If your name is Karen and none of this stuff applies to you, that’s unfortunate, but there are much bigger fish to fry right now.
Images: Scott Kenneth Brodie / Shutterstock.com; Domino’s Australia, Domino’s New Zealand / Facebook; aramreyess / Twitter
Another day, another white woman in NYC calling the police on a Black person who was just trying to go about their business. A woman named Svitlana Flom has officially joined the ranks of Amy Cooper and all the other Karens and Beckys who tried to weaponize their white privilege and call the cops because they were offended by a Black person simply existing… and then got virally shamed for it.
On Sunday, Instagram user @_brownsugarbaby uploaded a series of videos in which Flom can be heard on the phone with police, claiming the other woman is “playing the black card”, “attacking” her, and “threatening her kids”.
View this post on Instagram
From 6:15pm – 7:31pm this woman, Svitlana Flom, artdefete felt the need to not only approach me but call the cops MULTIPLE TIMES ON ME!! She was too “Alarmed” that I was sitting “comfortably” in “her neighborhood!” The first call was because she THOUGHT I was smoking in public.. but by the 3rd call, it was bcuz I was “threatening her & her children !!” While giving my description, she exaggerated her story & made it seem like I was the aggressor. “THIS AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMAN IS ATTACKING ME AND MY CHILDREN!” She had tears that were off & on & she stated things like “She’s pulling the black card!” Then wanted me to walk to the boys w/ her 🤦🏾♀️🤡 I probably could have just walked away!! I probably should have kept my mouth shut right ?! NAHHH!! I couldn’t understand why she was so mad ! Like ummmm first of alllll I pay alllll mine over here Miss Lady !! 🙄 How you come over here just feeling sooooo privileged & soooo comfortable enough to tell me I should leave ?! You’re buggin !! NOT THIS ONE!! She wanted to be a victim soooo bad!! NOT ONE PERSON CAME TO HER AID!! MULTIPLE PPL witnessed the ordeal & just wanted to make sure I was ok! SHARE THESE VIDEOS AS MANY TIMES AS POSSIBLE !! #SvitlanaFlom @maisonvivinyc @huffpost @ariannahuff
In the caption of the post, @_brownsugarbaby says that this went on for over 45 minutes, with Flom calling the police multiple times, “alarmed” that the Black woman had the audacity to sit “comfortably” in what Flom believed to be “her neighborhood”. She explains that the first time Flom called the police, it was because she thought the woman was smoking in public. (Smoking in parks is not legal in NYC and is usually punishable by… a $50 ticket. However, those who may witness someone violating the no-smoking law are encouraged to either inform a Parks Department employee or Park Enforcement Officer, or call 311. In other words, in case there was any doubt, Flom calling the police was reckless and in no way justified.)
After making her initial call in which she thought the woman was smoking, Flom then supposedly upped the ante, claiming the woman was threatening Flom and her children. This, despite the fact that in most of the footage, Flom is nowhere near her children, and her own husband walks away from her. As the woman points out in her video, Svitlana’s husband doesn’t even approach her to ask if she’s okay despite her supposedly being in such extreme distress.
Once the video hit Instagram and Twitter, the internet did their thing and dragged Flom for her dangerous racist actions.
Another day… another Karen using her privilege to call the police on an unmarmed African American woman minding her business getting fresh air in the park. #SvitlanaFlom is her name pic.twitter.com/wVAYu8ymgm
— Bunny (@ButtaNoBiscuits) May 31, 2020
Well another example of damsel in distress theory. The full video is available and for the record this KAREN literally walked herself up to the woman from a DISTANCE meaning more than 3 steps to harass her. Let do work to rid ourselves of people like #SvitlanaFlom https://t.co/DR57PeIe2l
— Danielle Golden (@DanielleGolde1) June 3, 2020
The internet also quickly figured out that Flom is reportedly the co-owner of Maison Vivienne, a French restaurant in NYC, which according to Yelp, is currently closed, though it’s not clear if the closure has anything to do with the incident in the park.
Flom, unsurprisingly, paints a different picture of what went down, telling Page Six that the video was edited “to make me look like a racist”, and that the altercation started because she told the black woman and her friend “they’re not supposed to be smoking “. She claimed the woman “jumped off , ran in my face. She didn’t care I was pregnant, or that I had two little kids.”
To that, all I have to say is:
Images: Photo by Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images; @_brownsugarbaby / Instagram; ButtaNoBiscuits, DanielleGolde1 / Twitter; Giphy