CJ Hirschfield: Karen

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From time to time a name becomes more than a name. It becomes a thing. Think Katrina after the massive hurricane. Right now, it's not so great to be a Karen. C.J. Hirschfield has this Perspective.

Janet. Linda. Susan. And Karen. These were some of the most popular girls’ names when I was growing up. The popularity of the name Karen peaked in the U.S. in 1965, when it landed at No. 3. So, doing a little math, the majority of Karens would now be about 55 years old.

These days, Karen has become a symbol of self-entitled, privileged, middle class white Boomer women. “Central Park Karen” called the cops on a Black man when he politely asked her to leash her dog, claiming he was threatening her life. The Karen meme has gone crazy-viral on social media, and some Karens — like African American global opinions editor for The Washington Post, Karen Attiah — say they’re still proud to be a Karen.

She quotes her mother as saying, “This is a time for you to be a Karen. Don't shy away from it. This is where you're going to call the manager out on racism and injustice."

According to a recent Harris poll conducted by AARP — 95 percent of older women plan to cast a ballot in November, indicating that women over 50 are going to be a decisive voice in the 2020 election. They listed the qualities most important in their leaders as ethics, trust and intelligence.


And yet, there’s this, from a recent Pew Research Center analysis: Voters ages 18 to 53, including millennials, Gen X and young voters, narrowly cast more votes than Boomers and older generations amid a modern record high turnout in the 2018 midterm elections.
Truth is, we have no control over the names we’re given at birth. But the decision to vote in the next election? That’s on us. This year, we celebrate 100 years since women were given the right to vote; not too long in the context of American history.

So come on, Gen Xers Lisa, Kimberly and Jennifer, and millennials Jessica, Ashley and Emily — join the Karens, Lindas and Janets and cast your votes.

You’ll be deciding the fates of Sophias, Harpers, Brooklyns and Willows.

With a Perspective, I’m C.J. Hirschfield

C.J. Hirschfield is an Oakland writer.