The Weaponization of White Fear

Since the beginning of time, the fear and panic of a white woman or child has been enough to get innocent Black men jailed and killed.

A principle tenet of white supremacy has been that Black men are hypersexualized savages (The Black Brute) and will do anything to conquer or sleep with white women. The sexual insecurity of racist white men, leads to the castration, marginalizing, hanging and killing of Black men.

A white woman’s fear needs no facts, DNA or justifiable context to enact reactions from citizens and law enforcement alike. The idea of a Black man doing anything to infringe on the safety or privilege of white women has long been a catalyst to usurp judicial processes.

The wives of slave owners did not have a passive role in the oppression or brutalization of Black men. These women often instigated and created narratives that allowed the atrocities to occur (much like the 53 percent that participated in the great atrocity of 2016). They were all too eager to organize and have a voice of their own after slavery ended. In 1894, under the guise of “preserving confederate history”, they formed the United Daughters of the Confederacy. They are largely responsible for the confederate statues and monuments that many are demanding to come down.

On July 23, 1889, in Missouri, 19-year-old Frank Embree was whipped over 100 times into the confession of raping a 14-year-old white girl. Frank was beaten and tortured before he was lynched by an angry mob with no judicial process.

On June 16, 1944, in South Carolina, 14-year-old George Stinney was the youngest person ever to be executed. Charged with the murder of two white girls who went missing, Stinney was interrogated without his parents, there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime. Stinney’s trial was a mere two hours and it took them 10 minutes to sentence him to death.

On Aug. 28, 1955, 14-year-old Emmitt Till was beaten and killed while visiting family in Mississippi for allegedly winking at a white female store clerk (who later admitted she lied).

In 1989, five teenage boys were held, tortured and questioned for over 30 hours without counsel or their parents until they confessed that they raped a white female jogger in Central Park. The boys (Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, and Korey Wise) were promised that they could go home and none of the information provided matched the crime. However, they were tried and wrongly convicted and imprisoned for over a decade. A then prominent real estate tycoon (who later went on to become president) took out a full page ad in multiple major papers, advocating that the death penalty be applied in their sentencing. When DNA later exonerated the men there were no apologies; they had to fight for years to get restitution from the state.

The emerging widespread acceptance of racism and white privilege has made living in America like walking on mine fields.

Racist white women have taken it upon themselves to engage as the unauthorized reporters of all things Black, and to call 911 for non-criminal behavior. This phenomenon has been called “Karening” and trended so much it is this Halloween’s most frightening costume addition. However, rather than stop the behavior, these women have chosen to be offended by the term. These nonsensical calls to 911 create a heightened response for police and further endanger the lives of unarmed Black people.

Cops have been called for children playing in the park, walking, jogging, asking dog owners to put their dogs on a leash, barbeques, appliance deliveries and everything in between.

The white caller puts panic and outrage in their voice and the cops show up. Interestingly enough, this action is caught with harsh and swift consequences. Many of the callers have lost their jobs, been investigated for various things and face epic fails in the court of public opinion. It’s interesting how discernment is able to be applied in these situations, and not in the numerous other situations where Black lives are snatched without cause. However, it does give hope for common sense and human decency.

If law enforcement is able to exercise good judgement in the face of white privilege, perhaps we can extend that same response to unarmed Black men.

If white mass shooters are able to be peacefully arrested without incident or a scratch after knowingly committing violent crimes, maybe Black men can be arrested without being killed?

Just a thought, just hopeful.

For now Karening has to have a punishment. Arrests for misuse of 911 and stiff high fines to match. Perhaps it can be categorized as a federal hate crime.

As of the publishing of this article, New York has taken the lead in the fight against Karening.

What you can do about Karening? 

  • Call your local legislators and request that frivolous 911 calls carry a penalty.

If it happens to you:

  • Take out your phone and begin recording immediately.

  • Stay calm.

  • Call or text a friend as it’s happening with your location.

  • Educate and empower your family.

If you are a Karen:

  • Mind your business. You are only in control of yourself.

  • Stop calling the police on people you come in contact with that are different than you.

  • Think of how many innocent Black people are killed by police interactions.

  • Ask yourself if you are in fact a racist, and seek help if you are unsure.

  • Ask yourself if you are ready for the world to consider you a racist.

Kai Kelly is a published author, creative writer, visionary and regular contributor to Born Brown: ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Her book of poetry, Love, Kai is available for purchase here. Follow her on Instagram @author_kai_kelly and Kai Kelly on Facebook.