A Twitter video with millions of views shows the complexity behind the hugely popular trend of exposing ‘Karens’ online.The Karen moniker has been used to publicly shame white women who have allegedly done offensive, problematic, or rude things in public. Recently, Karen footage has mostly shown incidents of outright racism or exposed microaggressions following unrest that came in the wake of George Floyd protests.In a new case, Karlos Dillard claimed that a woman had followed him, cut him off, given him the middle finger, and called him a racial slur, though none of those incidents were recorded. Dillard claimed that he followed her home and started filming, at which point she began to scream incessantly for the duration of the encounter, expressing fear that the video would be posted online and she would be labeled a “Karen.”Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
On Tuesday, the latest addition to ‘Karen’ culture blew up on social media around the quote, “I have a Black husband,” a line that’s now trending on Twitter.In the video that had 8.9 million views as of Tuesday night, less than 24 hours after it was posted, an unidentified white woman screamed the line after a man followed her to her home and began filming their interaction. The video was originally posted by Karlos Dillard, an actor, author, and comedian, whose website says he is “More than just a viral video star.” For the first minute of the video, taken in Seattle, Dillard, a Black man, asks the woman to calm down, while she screams, covers her face, and tries to block her license plate, which is clearly visible in the video. She specifically names her fear of being labeled a “Karen” if the video were to be posted online. Dillard explains to the viewers of the video that she cut him off and gave him the middle finger, so he followed her home to confront her. “You don’t understand,” the woman screams repeatedly in the video.
—Karlos Dillard (@wypipo_h8) June 23, 2020But later, Dillard claims that she also used a racial slur and had followed him with her car, which was why he followed her home. Dillard didn’t capture that on camera, but started filming the aftermath, when he began repeating his story, with minor changes each time. Throughout the whole encounter, the woman screams, begging him to stop filming her at her home and not publicize her license plate.Throughout the two minute and 20 second video, passersby pause to try and discern what’s happening, eventually siding with Dillard, as many people said they witnessed her following him in her car. The woman has not yet been identified, and Dillard has not returned Insider’s request for comment, or provided comments to other publications. He also posted a t-shirt design using the “I have a Black husband” line on his Instagram and Twitter pages. Dillard’s Instagram stories, as well as stories posted by bystanders and captured in screenshots shared on Twitter, do show the woman driving in her car, and conversations with witnesses who corroborated that she appeared to cut him off in her car before following him. It’s not clear from video footage posted online at which juncture Dillard began following the woman home. In his Instagram stories, Dillard added that he “drove away after she almost hit me, after she cut me off. I drove away, and she followed me.”
What exactly happened remains unclear, but the video has become the perfect storm for Karen discourseAs Karen content continues to take over the internet, new videos exposing white women for allegedly bad or racist behavior are going viral on what feels like a daily basis. While using the moniker “Karen” didn’t begin with Amy Cooper, the woman who called the police on a Black man in Central Park in May, that incident has certainly led to the huge and sudden influx of ‘Karen’ videos readily available online. In a span of weeks, we’ve seen parking lot Karen, sidewalk chalk Karen, coughing Karen, Kroger Karen, and farmer’s market Karen.The videos, at times, have led to real-world consequences for their subjects, some of which have been encouraged by governmental officials. When Maryland authorities sought out a Ken — the male version of Karen — who appeared to assault young people for posting Floyd flyers in a popular biking and walking path, the state’s attorney general asked Twitter followers to help identify the man (After multiple people were wrongfully identified as the perpetrator, a 60-year-old white man was arrested and charged with assault). In the case of the woman in the video at hand, dozens of comments on the Twitter video zoom in on her license plate, or share information they’re using to track her down.The factual questions around the video are typical of ‘Karen’ incidents and viral videos in generalAs Newsweek reported, it’s not Dillard’s first involvement in a viral video that calls out alleged displays of racism. On May 28, he claimed on Twitter that an Asian restaurant worker had used a racial slur when he arrived to pick up a Postmates delivery. He said that she was “racist” for asking to see his license to show that he was the correct Postmates driver, so he denied to show her identification. Like his new video, the person did not use a racial slur in the video.
On his Instagram stories, Dillard explained that it’s his duty to film these kinds of moments. “You have to stand your ground, and you have to f–king let them know that that’s not going to be okay. And hopefully, that Karen won’t do that to another Black man,” he said. Some people on Twitter have claimed that Dillard was dishonest about his encounter with the woman, pointing out his past experience with the restaurant worker and alleging that he made “false accusations,” as many lamented that this woman’s life would be ruined by the video footage (though she has yet to be identified).