As of today, the debate on “Karen” (which is essentially calling a white feminist “Karen,” regardless of her actual name) is still happening. White women reject the name and liken it to the n-word, while Black people know that Karen is far from a slur and that the two are incomparable. “Karen” is a rather mild call out of those who fail to consider some of the social and economic privileges that can come with being a white woman.
But the “Karen” conversation has gotten to the point where people are acting as if they’re invested in the dialogue, but instead are just posting their hot takes. The problem arises when Black people unknowingly engage with these internet users, called trolls, and get worked up over a post from an anonymous social media account.
On April 19, a Twitter account under the name @EmillySwaven wrote “Yes. The K-word is stronger than the n-word, at least currently. Misogyny and patriarchy has been around longer than slavery. Just don’t use either, ok?” The tweet also had a note to millennials that included the line, “Calling a woman “Karen” is an attempt to get rid of women’s right to stand up for themselves. The major issue with this isn’t the ignorance of the tweet — it’s the account itself.
The Twitter account of “Emilly Swaven” was created in April 2020, and there are no other tweets beyond the one that was just shared. The bio reads “Actuvist,” and the misspelling is likely purposeful, as it seems its only point is to further irritate Black people. This is typical of trolls, or people who traverse the internet with the intention to incense others. Of course, there are less malicious trolls, who are aware of both themselves and meme culture, and share funny comments, but the “Karen” trolls are nothing of the sort. They understand the value of collective Black outrage and appreciate the attention — even if they have to receive from a secret account.
Speaking out against racism is an aspect of online activism. But when the racist you’re dealing with is operating anonymously, doesn’t care about being educated and only exists to agitate, then it may not be worth it.
Owning a troll might feel like a slam dunk, and it may help rack up online engagement. But to a troll, it’s fuel to keep making a mockery of Black rage.