08 September 2021

When it's o.k. to be a Karen

The Madison [Wisconsin] School District is considering whether to remove the word “Karen” from a section of its online student enrollment form where parents can identify their children’s ethnicity, apparently after some expressed concerns about its modern-day connotations.

“Karen” in the parlance of current American race relations has come to mean a demanding white woman blind to her own privilege and racism.

Think the woman who called police on a Black birdwatcher in New York City’s Central Park last year after he asked her to put her dog on a leash.

“Karen,” though, also refers to “a number of ethnic groups with Tibetan-Central Asian origins” who speak 12 related but distinct languages, according to the London-based human rights group Minority Rights Group International. The group estimates there are some 4 million Karen (pronounced “kuh-REN”), mostly in Myanmar. An estimated 215,000 live in the U.S.
Detailed explanation at the Wisconsin State Journal.  You learn something every day.


  1. Why is it a federal law that a school has to ask a student's ethnicity?

  2. For anyone who is offended by the current use of the word 'Karen', may I introduce you to my great-uncle Richard...


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