Meet Dr. Karen Barbee EdD, LCMHCS, LCAS, Co-Author with Dr. Chris Hershey of The Definitive Guide to Understanding Karens Patriarchy and Other Modalities of Oppression


By Staff

What is a Karen/Ken?

Karen/Ken are individuals both female and male who police others using a lens of White Supremacy. These people believe that they have the power to overrule the lives of others whom they believe are “breaking a rule” in society, attempting to break a rule, or cause Karen/Ken to be inconvenienced. Their actions are viewed as oppressive towards others as they typically infringe on the rights and personal space of a minority, however, Karen and Ken can also be seen on any occasion, yelling at a White person in power who may be inconveniencing them. It’s important to note that Karen/Ken are usually White individuals, however they can represent other ethnicities, as the White supremacist and patriarchal thinking and behaviors are what drive the name.

Tell us about your experience with a Karen/Ken?

My own interactions with this type of person usually have been through having to explain myself to them regarding what I do when they meet me for the first time in my neighborhood. The frustrated feeling of having to justify how I can afford my home and vehicles as a single, Black mother to two boys, is something that never gets old. I find myself walking quickly to get away from these individuals in my neighborhood when I see them coming. I don’t want to explain my life to them, but they will attempt to corner me no matter what I’m doing to get their suspicious questions answered.

What inspired you to write a book in such a competitive market?

Currently, there is a lot of growing and robust research on racism and oppression and its impacts on people of color, however, there is currently not much literature available regarding the attitude and behaviors of a Karen/Ken on people of color. The name “Karen” and “Ken” are still a new phenomenon; however, it represents individuals who have always been around since the inception of slavery. Our book seeks to educate the reader on the patriarchal system through which Karen and Ken operate.

Where can people purchase your book and follow your movement?

An interested reader can currently find our book on in the form of an e-book, paperback and hardback copy. The reader can also purchase and listen to the book through Audible, which is associated with as well.

What are your thoughts on racism?

I believe that racism is very much still a real issue in our society. It also continues to negatively impact the lives of people of color in ways that may not be so overt. In fact, the clandestine ways that racism shows up today can be worse than the overt behaviors and interactions of those who held and shared racist values in the past. Racism should be met head on and exposed for what it is in every way and as often as possible. Individuals should also be educated on how racism appears in different situations. Lastly, we should also provide direction and feedback on healing and connecting people who hold racist and oppressive beliefs with those who are oppressed in an attempt to bridge the impasse that currently exists.

What does justice look like for some African Americans in America?

Justice can range from small to large victories for African Americans in America. However, overall, justice should be for the African American, the experience of being heard and seen for the oppression and racial injustice that has been our story and positive actions and decisions that are made to rectify and change our narrative in an equitable way.

What are some ways that African Americans can safely defend themselves when faced with racism?

It is sad and telling regarding the notion that African Americans should have to be concerned about their safety in defending themselves in the face of racist behaviors of others in the year 2022, however, this continues to be the society that we live in. Using your cellular device should be the first thing to consider recording any potential racist interactions that you may experience with another person. This is important not just to document the experience, but to hold the person accountable for their behaviors in the moment and to provide legal authorities with proof of the interaction. It is also important to consider your surroundings and how you can move to a safe place to remove yourself from the person or people who may not have your safety as their personal interest. If you do not feel safe, do not stand and argue, but move away from the scene and alert authorities if you believe that you were unsafe in the situation. It would also be important to move a step further to inform social justice organizations in your community who may be able to assist you in understanding and processing your experience and bring to light to the public what occurred. 

What does success look like for you regarding your book?

Success looks like people learning something new that is old, but so powerfully influential in the loves of people of color across the United States. Karen/Ken operate in every arena of life and in many ways impact people of color on all levels of structure. We want to educate the reader about Karen/Ken and how they appear. We also want to empower the reader to examine their selves and work to heal in a way that will begin to eradicate the existence of the patriarchal influence of Karen and Ken.

What has been the most memorable comment about your book?

A White woman informing me that the book made her cry real and emotionally painful tears as she read about the reality of Karen and Ken’s impact on people of color and the patriarchal society we live in that allows for their kind of beliefs and behaviors to remain intact.

About the Book

The Definitive Guide to Understanding Karens Patriarchy and Other Modalities of Oppression, is a groundbreaking book that is absolutely one of its kind.
For the first time, “Karen,” who symbolizes a White female who publicly polices and oppresses Black people and other people of color, is viewed through the lens of not an individual misbehaving, but an actual model of oppression towards People of Color, and writ large People of the Global Majority(PGM), a collective term to identify people racialized as ‘ethnic minorities’. In this book, Karen is finally described in a way that helps the reader understand their history and impact starting with slavery and the large role they continue to play in oppressing BIPOC today. The authors not only educate you on this modality of oppression and how it compares to others but also show you how to move towards a place of healing and unity as a human race.

About Dr. Karen Barbee

I am the owner and Clinical Director of Renaissance Wellness Services, LLC, a growing agency that provides outpatient mental health and substance abuse service in Chatham, Wake, and Orange counties. I opened my business with my future clients in mind. It’s very important to me that you always feel welcome and accepted for who you are. My passion is empowerment through the development of a healthy self-esteem. Self-esteem impacts every part of our lives and many times individuals will see major, positive changes as their self-esteem balances. An imbalanced self-esteem is the root cause of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, anger, obsessive compulsive disorder and so many other mental health issues. Therefore, as this area is targeted, other areas are positively affected as well.