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(3,818 posts)
Mon Aug 7, 2023, 04:48 AM Aug 2023

Don't Call Her 'Karen' [View all]

Don’t Call Her ‘Karen’
July 27, 2023
By Pamela Paul
Opinion Columnist


Sarah Comrie is a 34-year-old physician assistant from San Diego. After getting a master’s degree from Cornell, she took a job at Bellevue, a public hospital in New York that serves many people that the city’s for-profit hospitals might decline to treat, including the uninsured, the homeless and members of the Rikers Island jail population. In 2020, she was profiled by The Times as one of the workers who risked their health to care for others during the pandemic.

Today Comrie’s life has been turned upside down. She has been doxxed and faced death threats. Bellevue placed her on leave. She had to hire a lawyer. She is widely known, as a result of a viral video in which she appeared in May, as Citi Bike Karen.


Without knowing what transpired before the footage began, it’s easy to leap to a judgment about what you’re seeing, depending on your biases. If you view the episode through the lens of sex alone, you might draw one conclusion: A pregnant woman was harassed by a group of teenage boys who wanted her bike. Viewed strictly through the lens of race, a white woman took a bike from a group of Black kids, then tried to get them in trouble.


Many who watched the video were certain of what they saw. The civil rights attorney Ben Crump, in a subsequently deleted post on Twitter, accused Comrie of attempting to steal the bike and called her behavior “unacceptable,” an example of “the type of behavior that has endangered so many Black men in the past.” The website Anti-Racism Daily accused Comrie of trying to “weaponize her tears.” The Miami Times called her “an aggressive woman.” Tariq Nasheed, a filmmaker and social media personality, called her “a suspected white supremacist.” A blog post on the website Daily Kos said she “weaponized her whiteness over a stupid bike ride.” NYC Health + Hospitals, the network that includes Bellevue, issued a statement to CBS News describing the video as “disturbing.” A local NBC News affiliate sent a camera crew to Comrie’s apartment.


But given the grave consequences she suffered, Comrie, who recently spoke to me in her first public comments since the incident, hasn’t had the luxury of moving on or forgetting. As for the young men, their identities have not been confirmed — despite my attempts to track them down and reach them — which may have spared them direct racist attacks and reprisals. But surely, they haven’t benefited from being vilified by uninformed commenters online, either.

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