Style is an Expression of The Devil Works Hard… But Aunt Karen Works Harder
There is a new kind of Karen running these social media streets around and she has flipped the “Karen” trope on its head.
Denise Bradley, former human resources representative from Michigan, is working hard to expose racists and racist issues in the United States. Bradley, better known as “Aunt Karen,” is using her public platforms–Tik Tok, Instagram, and her podcast Fresh Tea–to publicly demand accountability from those who are intent on perpetuating racism in our country.
Aunt Karen didn’t plan to build a Tik Tok following but decided to focus on anti-racist content after a video she posted went viral. Trolls called Bradley out as a “Karen”, a term typically used to describe entitled white women who commit racist acts, when she posted her first viral video in which she confronts a man removing a Biden sign after the 2020 presidential election. Bradley decided to embrace the term and is now known as Aunt Karen to her 1.6 million followers on Tik Tok. She aspires to be the good kind of Karen, and her work helps to support that idea.
Aunt Karen is inspired by her grandmother, who she has credited with preparing her to move through the world today. She remembers being with her grandmother at the tender age of 5, when a man called out the n-word. The memory brings with it a sense of civic duty to call out people comfortable in their racism, and she and her followers demand accountability from them.
Aunt Karen works with her followers to complete her work. Ending racism is “a walk we have to take together,” she says during a Three Plus One Media interview in 2021. Aunt Karen’s followers take that seriously and help her ID and expose the featured ‘Racist of the Day.’ Bradley also takes requests from followers, which makes her anti-racism activism a full-time job.
What calms me is my purpose. If anything I do can help take another step towards the end of racism. I’m going to do it.
More recently, Aunt Karen impressively infiltrated and dismantled a ‘White Lives Matter’ group online. According to Bradley’s interview with Indy100, the group’s posts were unabashedly racist “every post made was rooted in hatred. At the heart of it all, skin color was their only excuse for it. They held people of color (particularly Black people) in such low regard. To them, we’re the root of all problem[s].”
During her interview with Three Plus One Media, Aunt Karen discusses the positive and open dialogue that stems from her work and how that also helps dismantle racism and stereotypes. She says that in response to her videos, she gets questions from people who want to truly be educated in how to be anti-racist and effective allies. This continued dialogue can be draining, but Aunt Karen assured Three Plus One Media that she has a strong support system and strongly believes in self-care and working on her mental health.
Bradley tells the Daily Dot “what calms me is my purpose. If anything I do can help take another step towards the end of racism. I’m going to do it.” This aligns perfectly with Bradley’s mantra: The Devil Works Hard… But We Work Harder!