Thursday, August 6, 2020

Karenism: Taking the Heart Out of Community

Blogging is a relief valve and amid the Covid-19 crisis, where the DC community is still in Phase 2, it's quite a relief to not have to worry about what this editor deems inappropriate. Normally, at StreetSenseMedia, there are several checkpoints. Willy checks, then the intern, and finally the editor. Although well-meant, it perpetuates a limited hangout and often for the sake of optics.

It creates a lacuna between what homeless people can or cannot talk about, and trying to bridge the gap is designed to become your entrapment. You must be ill, you must want money, you must want to cause trouble, you must want to become a famous writer, you must hope to carve a name for yourself...

Actually, no, we just want to broach topics that we are not supposed to be able to talk about because that doesn't fit your marginalization plan for us. Nor does it augment the liberal argument for building more affordable housing that is okay so long as it remains mostly unaffordable. Nor for more educational programs for our betterment, if we can be bettered at all.

Normally in an essay we will take the time to define karenism according to Oxford Dictionary, or whatever else exists out there. But it doesn't take a Masters degree to understand that it is basically the Orwellian version of caring, taken to misconstrue kindness and benevolence as an opportunity to frustrate, to torment, to exert one's petty authority as a minion, to target, to convey harmful messages.

As Poor News Network/Prense Pobre recently described in "Abolishing the Karens" the well-meant Karens (perhaps misplaced feelings about living in a Stepford Wives Neighborhood) are out in force making phone calls to report on black/brown or any Other undesirables in the vicinity. As the case of the Montclair Karen (aka New Jersey Susan) demonstrates, these are acts of hate in the name of security, health, safety, following orders, etc. BlasianFMA's podcast didn't include what the black couple looked like: a respectable Boomer-aged couple who undoubtedly are not the type to cause trouble.

ANY person of color understands the deep rooted fears and implications over a call to the police. Especially blacks/browns. Here in DC, I have had my challenges being on the receiving end of harassment before the new term. If we use the word micro-aggression that is also apropos, but again the liberals often object to its very existence. At Chevy-Chase, I have had people walk or RUN at a full 8-feet distance going out into the roadway just to "stay a safe distance." Obviously they don't do that among themselves or their co-equals, but this is how they have appropriated these distancing measures as tools for objectification and hostility. The same thing has happened along P Street in Dupont Circle, where the woman broke into a sprint to avoid any germs. Bearing in mind that I was dressed appropriately, bathe regularly, had a mask on, nothing unusual except my being nonwhite...

Its a sad day when I have to resort to reporting these types of pathetic incidents because when I visited the Far East, there was no such paranoia, delusionary fears, frantic acting out, or subverting what should be a time of true caring. People everywhere wear masks, and the atmosphere is practical and peaceful. There are no political subterfuges, no targeting of others, no ridiculous scenes.

But perhaps the West is still mistaking mask-wearing for the days of the Wild-West with its romance of train robbers and murderers. Or perhaps the West is in love with the idea of the Venetian Black-nobility with its masked balls, in which there are often political intrigues, illicit liaisons, and treason taking place. Wearing a mask makes the white-race angry because their noses have to be covered up.

This explains the "Cover Your Nose!" bark that I hear from white dudes. I've heard it now from at least two white-minions working at front desks. I've heard it from a couple grocery store workers, but the hostility from the minions was obvious: Unless you conform you will not be admitted! You better know your place! You better obey me! Obey me now!

This sorry demand for respect is self-evident of the petty insecurity of the white-male whose power and self-affirmation is reduced to being a willing participant of the panopticon, where everyone can view and snitch on their neighbors. He's willing to become a Karen, for the sake of patting himself on the back that he is quite an authority.

I mean, seriously, there might be a lot of germs coming from my nose, but hey, if it's Covid-19 virus emanating from my nostrils, do you seriously believe one cheesy mask is going to protect you from my germs? Get a load of yourself, dude, for having such fine critical reasoning skills.

And then there is the stress of family. According to National Healthcare for the Homeless Council:

"Call centers and police stations around the country report a staggering increase in domestic violence; violence in the home has become more common and significantly more severe during this crisis. For many households, safe places and coping strategies have been compromised while family stress has exponentially increased. For some, the threat of homelessness, incarceration, physical harm, and even death are much more pressing and real than the risks associated with coronavirus."

Again it's not rocket-science to realize how many safe-places are shut down due to COVID-19. Having come from a family with occasional domestic violence, school was a safe place, where you could hide from the fear and frustration. If you had a sister who was a bully, you didn't have to see her for a good part of the day, and to boot, you had your own friends, and the wisdom of teachers.

Locally many African immigrant men made especial use of the library because they live in such crowded apartments, and that is the only place where they can study for their community college courses. At Silver Spring Library, one could see how seriously they undertook their studies. They were always already stressed out there, so how much worse might it be at home! The same places are used by various others in the community who are hoping to go out for a short while, and in some places already hurt by austerity measures forcing the closure of parks and museums, this was the last straw.

The entire catastrophe has been made needlessly worse than any other country because American culture is steeped in the Hollywood culture of hedonism, individualism, and atheism. There is nothing preventing us from fostering the nexus of careerism, narcissism, and cut-throat competition, which is what a real successful Karen might look like from the outside. She is more than entitled to her beautiful world and life, because she deserved it, worked so hard for it, and nobody should get in the way of her freedom.

The Karens in our neighborhood might not be as unfriendly as in Chevy Chase, nor as snobby as at Cleveland Park, but they don't have a moment to spare with their homeless neighbor forced to sleep on the church steps. Not a dime to spare for their unhappy sister. Not a kind word of comfort to someone turned out on the street. Instead, all that attention is therapeutically lavished upon their pet dog. This is what their head-shrinks recommend for making them feel good about themselves and to demonstrate they are fully human: to love their pet dog.

Siriusly, these folks don't give an effing-arse for their neighbor so long as they have their concrete box, I mean, luxury home, to escape into with all the right touches, the granite countertops, the stainless steel appliances, the centralized heating and cooling, the rooftop swimming pool and indoor gyms, the business office, the indoor laundromat, the LEED-certified platinum building rating, etc.

It's just not cool to be Christian or kindly anymore. I can tell this from how precipitous the drop is in church attendance everywhere. My friend who grew up during the Great Depression used to tell me that everyone in his middle-class neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio kept a bag of spare food near the door. Any hobo passing by and begging for food would be provided at least a sandwich and a drink of water. They did not have to ransack through garbage bins looking for food, and there were a considerably lot less Karen-ism in those days.

In the 1930s, if you read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, it was okay to be a hobo. I mean, nobody should have to live that way, but if you wanted to travel the country and were desperately poor, you could travel as a hobo. Of course, maybe as white-hobo you had it a world better than a black-hobo. Most likely, yes.

Karenism, in my view, has a lot to do with what our country is missing due to years of offensive wars and war-mongering. We don't appreciate peace. We don't believe in family values much anymore. It's much more sexy to be satanic and engaged in virtual reality games and able to recite hate-mongering poems. Our politicians care much more about having their election campaign troves filled to the brim with enough cash than about conducting real conversations. 

It's the missing piece in the puzzle about why we feel so disconnected. Not only are we yielding to a culture of artificial intelligence and isolationism, but we revel in it. So communication with a so-called therapist takes only 10 minutes now, because she is not obligated to actually explore your issues. Your sibling, a medical professional himself, might generously offer you money. If you turn it down, he snarls nastily that no wonder you are to blame for your own troubles, when you have so much pride and lack humility. And to complete the jibe, he might say, well I hope you don't suffer too much.

Money is the root of our evils and problems, yet we think it is the panacea. Does giving money replace the pain and suffering of living with a wife-beater? Do these one-time handouts replace the dignity and contributions of work? How well are we addressing the fact that so many have invested years and thousands of dollars in education, only to be told because they didn't graduate at the top of their class, or from the right university, their chance in finding a job will be nil?

And what of all the wage-earners, the taxi-cab drivers, the chefs, the bakers, the baristas, who have all lost their jobs over the past months. Will we just conveniently say it was really their fault too? Will we just focus on a smaller and smaller segment of those who are currently enrolled in pay-to-play universities, where now one does not even hardly get the full advantage of what used to be known as a Learning Community? Sure, it can be conducted all online with Professor Karens, who are mediating the conversation to ensure that some are heard, while others are ignored. Some get to work for the EPA, but only if they agree that others never will. You can teach online, but only if you design a course that will give the University and unknown Third Parties unlimited rights...

There are schools much more important to attend in the 21st century besides the white-washed versions which will tend to lock you into paths for years of servitude and overspecialization, years that we do not have anymore due to impending climate chaos and extinction. You will realize, 30 years too late, that you have frittered away your active life passing away the time watching CNN.

Part of being schooled in life is learning to embrace the reality of silenced youth, adults, and elders in poverty across the globe, silenced only because of being materially poor, even when they may be full of wisdom and streetsense. They've learned to fight back against Karenism because Karens have no problem over your demise, or having other people kill you.

The saddest personal story that I have to share today has to do with a ferocious Karen living on the premises of our home that is shared by a group of low-income women. So on top of the usual stress navigating around troublemakers around town, at home, we have had this person who I shall nickname T-2020, because she dresses in tea-party red, and is a maniac with the glue-gun, being very creative in crafting T-2020 on purse, walker, shoes, sweater, eyeglasses, jackets, coats, etc, so we all know who she admires as the greatest President ever. This T-2020 Karen has an unconscious desire to get-even on those who don't submit to her master. It emerges at night, and against certain persons who she targets. One of them, an African American woman who had a bit of a communication problem, became her gaslighting target. Typical of gas-lighters, she befriends the person, offers help such as free cigarettes, or paid shopping trips, but in return that person must essentially become her side-kick, such as being woken up several times a night for going out to smoke. Anyway, somehow word got out, and Karen had to drop her. But that came at a price, which was a certain enmity. The Karen now became a covert bully, even concocting a necessary restraining order, and calling the police. The eventual ending has been quite tragic.

And this is exactly why we are including this sad-story and indeed, this blog entry. These "Karens" be they man, woman, white, black, brown, red, yellow, or any shade, they are harmful people who utterly disregard humanity over Rules, Things, Following Orders, and justifying twisting such to suit Their Own Bigotry. They may say they are not bigots, but the facts indicate otherwise. When this black/brown/other person passes on, or is imprisoned, or loses their job, or loses their home, or gets divorced, or is expelled from organization, it is STILL ALL ABOUT THEM. Just ask them if they remember that person's name. They don't. Just ask them if they have any regrets. They don't. Just share with them that others feel differently, and do they see that perspective. They don't!

They can't or they won't because they have had their heart operated on, and they may still have a mind, but their heart is damaged or missing. That's the doggone truth about these "Karens" imho.

So beware of the possible fakes out there.

Real cute, but not real people!