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Past Karen: White Girl Archetypes within the Third Sector – Non Revenue Information | Nonprofit Quarterly

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Picture credit score: Yermine Richardson/www.popcaribe.com

Editors’ observe: This piece is from Nonprofit Quarterly Journal’s spring 2024 concern, “‘Stop Drowning Us, and Stop Making Us Disappear’: A Critical Report on the State of Black Woman Leadership.”

The query stays in my thoughts: How do so many Black girls who have by no means met, don’t reside in the identical neighborhood, don’t work in the similar trade, and have completely different life backgrounds, all have comparable tales that converse to the similar dynamic? It can’t be a coincidence.

—Alicia S.1

Black girls can’t catch a break in America,2 and that features our expertise within the American office. A latest research, printed by the Harvard Kennedy Faculty of Authorities, of entry-level US-based workers at a big, international professional-services agency discovered that White workers—and specifically, White girls3 —had the very best retention and promotion charges, whereas Black workers had the bottom retention and promotion charges, relative to their White, Asian, and Hispanic/Latinx colleagues.4 The biggest relative turnover and promotion hole was between White girls and Black girls. As well as, Black girls had been the one employees whose turnover and promotion outcomes had been impacted by the variety of White coworkers that they had on their groups.5

The Karen archetype of latest years—an irate White girl who calls the authorities on a Black individual for simply present and minding their very own enterprise…has clarified the hurt that’s taking place to Black folks and who the perpetrator is.

At across the similar time that research was launched, the Washington Space Girls’s Basis printed a research of 36 Black girls leaders’ experiences within the Washington, DC, space nonprofit sector.6 “Nearly 70% of respondents [in this study] agreed or strongly agreed that Black women’s leadership has been notably under attack in recent years,…[and] over 90% of respondents expressed that their occupations have had detrimental effects on their health and well-being, manifesting as chronic stress, fatigue, elevated blood pressure, and impacts on mental health.”7 One research respondent mentioned, “[Black women] are not doing well.”8

On this article, I discover a dynamic which may be accountable, partly, for Black girls’s experiences within the office: White girl fragility—a time period based mostly within the work of writer and professor Dr. Robin DiAngelo, whose e-book White Fragility: Why It’s So Arduous for White Folks to Discuss About Racism introduced the phenomenon of White fragility into mainstream consciousness.9 In my e-book, White Girls Cry and Name Me Indignant: A Black Girl’s Memoir on Racism in Philanthropy, I describe debilitating interactions with White girls within the philanthropic sector throughout my tenure as president and CEO of a non-public basis in Washington, DC.10 As I engaged Black girls readers across the themes in my e-book, I found that they, too, had skilled strikingly comparable interactions, which led me to an exploration of archetypes.

An archetype is outlined by Collins Dictionary as “a perfect or typical example of a particular kind of person or thing, because it has all their most important characteristics.”11 In our society, archetypes are sometimes rooted in dangerous stereotypes. This isn’t the intention of this exploration. My intention right here is to level to constant White girl behaviors which have brought about Black girls hurt. The Karen archetype of latest years—an irate White girl who calls the authorities on a Black individual for simply present and minding their very own enterprise—which has been codified in Web memes, has clarified the hurt that’s taking place to Black folks and who the perpetrator is. Dr. Apryl Williams, an assistant professor in communications and media on the College of Michigan, mentioned in a TIME article, “These memes are actually doing logical and political work…[and] highlighting and sort of commenting on the racial inequality in a way that mainstream news doesn’t capture.”12

The first aim of this text is to offer Black girls with language and perception into further White girl archetypes—particularly within the third sector (philanthropy and nonprofits), the place White girls are dominant actors—to allow them to start the necessary therapeutic work of naming racial aggression and releasing the disgrace and embarrassment that usually accompany our experiences of racism within the office. The secondary aim is to influence basis leaders in philanthropy to take pressing motion to guard Black girls who’re doing necessary labor within the third sector with and on behalf of essentially the most marginalized communities of shade.13

A Temporary Historical past of Archetypes

Carl Jung is taken into account the daddy of archetypal psychology.14 He posited that there are common patterns expressed in pictures and current within the collective unconscious of all people throughout all cultures.15 These pictures are known as archetypes. Examples of archetypes embrace “the mother” (somebody who’s nurturing, loving, and protecting),16 “the trickster” (somebody who cheats or assessments boundaries),17 and “the hero” (somebody, often depicted as male, who overcomes obstacles to achieve a aim).18 These should not simply private traits; archetypes are considered deep, abiding, and highly effective. In line with Jung, they “create myths, religions, and philosophies that influence and characterize whole nations and epochs of history.”19

Whereas Jung argued that archetypes are innate, others argue that archetypes should not mounted—for instance, that they “operate in a contested space where actors exploit elements of religious discourse…to provide meaning and moral and political authority to support their vested interests.”20 And in keeping with Karl Marx, these with energy, the elites in a society, are those who produce, distribute, and regulate essentially the most highly effective concepts of their age.21 This explains why we’re, proper now, in a heated battle over the origin story of america. I’d argue that one of many the explanation why American elites are actively suppressing books like The 1619 Mission: A New Origin Story22 is as a result of these books problem the hero archetype, which has legitimized the wrestle of White males who fled non secular oppression, “discovered” land, and instituted the “necessary evil” of slavery to construct america,23 arguably essentially the most highly effective nation on the earth.

Black girls navigate White girls day by day to maintain themselves and their livelihoods secure—generally efficiently and generally not. We discuss White girls’s behaviors in hushed tones over brunch, however we don’t discuss them out loud for a lot of causes, primarily as a result of it is just too harmful to take action.

Three archetypes specifically have been used to marginalize Black girls in service of the identical highly effective White elite agenda rooted in slavery and persisting in American workplaces. The Mammy archetype is the picture of an unattractive Black mom who is robust and content material in her caregiving position for a lot of youngsters within the service of White slave house owners or White employers.24 To justify slavery, White slave house owners invented and propagated this archetype to recommend that Black girls had been proud of slavery and appropriate for home duties. The Sapphire archetype is the picture of an aggressive, dominating, indignant, emasculating Black girl.25 This archetype, too, serves a goal—it means that Black girls are ill-tempered and must be formed and managed. Lastly, the Jezebel archetype is the picture of an immoral, sexually promiscuous, sexually obtainable Black girl,26 used throughout slavery as a rationale for enslavers to sexually exploit Black girls. Black girls had been painted as seductresses to excuse rape, a software utilized by White enslavers for each domination and the birthing of latest slaves.

These archetypes have harmful penalties even in the present day. They body concepts concerning the varieties of labor for which Black girls are appropriate; they silence our calls for for higher therapy and justice for our communities; and so they restrict our capacity to earn on the similar ranges as our counterparts. It’s no surprise that when a Black girl lands a management position, the assaults start nearly instantly. I’ve been in confidential conversations with Black girls because the pressured resignation of Dr. Claudine Homosexual. Their tales are astounding, from being informed “You are a token Black” (that’s, you don’t belong right here) to “She wears whore boots”27 (that’s, her presence is offensive and inappropriate, and he or she doesn’t belong right here). In all of those circumstances, these Black girls had been fired or pressured to resign and stripped of earnings and their profession trajectory.

White Girl Archetypes

In White Girls Cry and Name Me Indignant, I talk about on a regular basis interactions with White girls within the philanthropic sector in Washington, DC.28 Black girls navigate White girls day by day to maintain themselves and their livelihoods secure—generally efficiently and generally not. We discuss White girls’s behaviors in hushed tones over brunch, however we don’t discuss them out loud for a lot of causes, primarily as a result of it is just too harmful to take action. Until racism manifests in essentially the most salacious methods, we usually don’t name it out. I nearly didn’t. I nervous about politeness. I believed the “micro” in microaggressions meant “not a big deal.” I feared backlash: who would rent me after talking up about what occurred to me? I typically informed myself on the time of the interactions that the communities I care about are scuffling with “real” issues, and I ought to be thankful for the privilege of a great job. I believed I had the wherewithal to persevere. However that striving got here at a value.

Under, I define six potential White girl archetypes in response to Black girls’s resounding resonance with the tales in my essay assortment. Within the house of every week or perhaps a day, Black girls within the office could expertise anyplace between every one of those archetypes, and the racism-related stress residing within the physique due to these interactions has devastating penalties. However first, I wish to acknowledge the needle that I’m threading through the use of unfavorable archetyping to explain White girl behaviors. I don’t imagine this exploration of White girl archetypes will result in unfavorable repercussions for White girls collectively, on condition that they’re a dominant group with important and consequential energy within the third sector. I’m balancing this most unlikely potential with the potential reduction that Black girls could expertise as they higher perceive what is occurring to them at work. The danger of the previous feels value it if these White girl archetypes can reveal truths and supply Black girls with a form of White girl literacy—that’s, language to elucidate why we really feel so exhausted and used up after interacting day after day, week after week, yr after yr with White girls within the office.

Kristy is a progressive White girl. She wears her causes on her sleeve. Each time you see her, she is annoyed with some social concern or one other. She is from an overtly racist household and has been attempting for many years to distance herself from this shameful previous. She marries an individual of shade and has youngsters of shade, but she imagines she lives in a world that may be or ought to be race-ignorant. She prefers it this manner. She is prone to imagine that American society has a category drawback, and if we may simply clear up for that, then race variations would disappear. She is evading race and at the exact same time is confronted by it every time she refuses to just accept {that a} succesful Black girl actively experiences racism at work. She denies Black girls’s lived actuality because of deep-seated disgrace associated to her upbringing in an overtly racist household.

Lauren is the antithesis of progressive, though she is adjoining to liberal circles. She exudes Southern contempt for Black folks wrapped in feigned hospitality. For instance, she is going to all the time say hey. That’s, after all, the Southern method—genteel but brutal. She has energy, whether or not that be institutional, political, or monetary. In lots of instances, Lauren is much less educated than most of the Black girls round her, however she doesn’t want excessive ranges of formal training. Her energy comes from Whiteness. If you end up along with her, you’re feeling one thing fairly disconcerting and eerie. You attempt to avoid her as a lot as you may, as a result of at any second one thing may come out of her mouth that’s paying homage to our plantation previous.

In at some point, a Black girl can expertise all these White girl archetypes. She might be reeling from an e-mail from Nancy, go into the workplace and face Kristy, get on a name with Lauren and Madelyn earlier than facilitating a board assembly that night time with Rose, after which drive residence reflecting on a teary change with Beth.

Madelyn is an older liberal White girl who holds institutional energy—and he or she wields it. She blesses and he or she withholds blessing. She has labored at a number of massive establishments, presumably in labor, massive nationwide nonprofits, or well-endowed foundations. She is quiet and “strategic.” She is aware of how one can navigate halls of energy. She helps activism, is pro-LGBTQ and proabortion, and he or she provides the looks of being pro-Black. She has many Black colleagues with whom she could be very pleasant. She mentors, she introduces, and he or she supplies sturdy references. However she doesn’t cede energy, nor does she belief Black girls’s management. She maintains her place on the prime of the racial hierarchy.

Rose is a liberal White girl who conceals her Whiteness along with her Jewishness. She believes that after we discuss concerning the racism that White folks perpetuate, we should always say White Protestant. That’s as a result of she both doesn’t imagine she is White, or she doesn’t imagine that White-presenting Jewish folks could be racist, due to their very own harrowing experiences with White supremacy. In conferences centered on the challenges dealing with Black communities, she is going to interject with Jewish considerations or blame Black folks for his or her issues. She could be very fast to accuse others of antisemitism at the same time as her anti-Blackness is on full show. When confronted about her overtly racist remarks, she turns into defensive and aggressive.

Beth is a younger White liberal skilled. She works in largely White areas and lives in a gentrifying a part of city. She votes Democrat each time and is a staunch feminist. She is formidable and has her thoughts set on parlaying her regulation diploma right into a White Home profession. When confronted with battle, she calls the authorities or invokes the regulation to resolve issues that don’t require that degree of escalation. In conferences, she is going to overtly query Black girls’s {qualifications} or will interrupt or discuss over Black girls. When pressed about her behaviors towards Black girls, that is her cue to start crying. She is outwardly fragile and depends on tears and victimhood to keep up her energy.

Nancy is a midcareer progressive White girl who checks all the precise containers when it comes to racial fairness. She is insecure, nevertheless, and needs the approval of the Black folks in her community. She is personable and disarming, and he or she creates alternatives for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. She is snug speaking about racism, and also you come to imagine which you can threat a relationship along with her. When Black folks say they want White folks as allies or coconspirators, that is the White individual they want. However you discover yellow flags suggesting that she doesn’t query her biases as a lot as is required to reside into true solidarity. This undermines her capability to barter nuanced racialized battle within the office. You’re feeling confused in your relationship along with her. One second, you maintain out hope that she has Black folks’s backs; one other second, you might have a nagging feeling that she doesn’t, due to her refusal to totally reckon along with her Whiteness.

What These Archetypes Imply for Black Girls

Black girls want house to do the work with and on behalf of our communities with out the extra labor and penalties of navigating White girl racism and different types of racism and misogynoir.

In at some point, a Black girl can expertise all these White girl archetypes.29 She might be reeling from an e-mail from Nancy, go into the workplace and face Kristy, get on a name with Lauren and Madelyn earlier than facilitating a board assembly that night time with Rose, after which drive residence reflecting on a teary change with Beth. Alone, every certainly one of these experiences might be mildly irritating and deserving of merely a watch roll. Collectively, they’re exhausting and harmful. Not solely do Black girls should do their jobs with the stress to carry out at increased ranges than is required for the job or of others who should not Black, however additionally they should carry out the emotional unpaid labor of managing White girls, their behaviors, and their racialized worldviews.

The well being penalties of dealing with racism-related stress are actual and life-shortening. In her e-book Weathering: The Extraordinary Stress of Unusual Life in an Unjust Society, Dr. Arline Geronimus defines weathering as “a process that encompasses the physiological effects of living in marginalized communities that bear the brunt of racial, ethnic, religious, and class discrimination…and…afflicts human bodies—all the way down to the cellular level—as they grow, develop, and age in a racist, classist society.”30 Dr. Geronimus factors to research displaying that Black girls who wait to have their infants of their late twenties and thirties are at increased threat of poor toddler well being outcomes than White girls.31 I hope you caught that. This analysis suggests that Black girls’s our bodies are deteriorating as early as their late twenties and early thirties, the age at which White girls have their greatest maternal and toddler well being outcomes. Whereas this text is targeted on the office, I level to those well being outcomes to emphasise how the physique will get implicated by racism-associated stress.

What Black Girls Want

Black girls want house to do the work with and on behalf of our communities with out the extra labor and penalties of navigating White girl racism and different types of racism and misogynoir. There are office intervention research being examined by Dr. Sanaz Mobasseri on the Boston College Questrom Faculty of Enterprise.32 Dr. Mobasseri and her colleagues are exploring the potential profit to folks of shade within the office if White folks can deliberately cope with their very own insecurities associated to Whiteness—and threats to the advantages of Whiteness—when folks of shade enter the office.33 We have to transcend DEI trainings and produce rigorously examined antiracist interventions to workplaces.

Within the meantime, Black girls want alternatives to heal. Transformative justice frameworks recommend a number of methods through which hurt restore can occur. In a 2021 presentation to the funders collective Resourcing Radical Justice, two practitioners, Richael Devoted and Whitney Benns, requested members to contemplate restore methods that rely on the extent of relationship between the individual inflicting hurt and the individual harmed.34 Devoted and Benns clarify, for instance, that in an aspirational relationship (that’s, an early-stage relationship), distance and a useful resource switch from the individual inflicting hurt to the individual harmed could also be most applicable. For the closest relationships, a cool-down interval adopted by small-group work, a restore course of, searching for counsel, and a useful resource switch could also be most applicable.35 Within the third sector, we don’t have transformative, justice-inspired interventions and infrastructure to assist us to call and restore the hurt that has occurred to Black girls. Funders want to return collectively to create a fund to assist such transformative justice processes within the third sector. The sector can’t proceed its social change work externally whereas persevering with to perpetuate and go away unacknowledged the hurt that it causes.

Till this infrastructure could be developed (and I hope it occurs sooner quite than later), Black girls urgently want areas to inform our truths, look after ourselves in neighborhood, prioritize relaxation and pleasure, and use breathwork and different somatic practices to launch as a lot stress from the physique as potential. The Affiliation for Black Basis Executives hosts an annual retreat for Black Girls in Philanthropy.36 Practitioners like Erika Totten (@toliveunchained) and Tosh Patterson (Black Goddess Collective) are teaching girls and facilitating retreats with them.37 I, too, am experimenting with choices, reminiscent of an upcoming therapeutic retreat centered on the intersection of enjoyment, soma, and neighborhood constructing, and a soon-to-be-launched assist group for ladies who’re in lively racism-related misery on the job. There can by no means be too many of those areas.

Within the podcast episode “Striving Is Bad for Your Health,” printed by The Dream, Dr. Geronimus poignantly states that the stress-related deterioration of a denigrated group’s our bodies (because of each the exterior stress we face and the high-effort, proactive coping methods that we use to cope with that stress) occurs even in our sleep.38 Dr. Geronimus, who has centered most of her work on Black girls, doesn’t imagine that having a constructive angle or partaking in actions like meditation whereas awake will reverse the well being impacts of weathering. (Nor do I.) She says that what we have to reverse weathering is security—which she describes as “life-or-death safe” or the sense that “we can be [our] authentic” selves and “will be treated fairly.” Due to this fact, Black girls are in a little bit of a conundrum. Racism isn’t going away anytime quickly, and our coping methods gained’t cease the weathering. For the foreseeable future, we’ll proceed to get sicker and die prior to we should always. It is a sobering actuality. However on the very least, whereas we nonetheless have breath, Black girls ought to be afforded areas to breathe.

That is my name to motion for the third sector: Create enduring, resourced areas for Black girls to breathe.



  1. Private communication from a reader.
  2. Treva B. Lindsey, America, Goddam: Violence, Black Girls, and the Wrestle for Justice (Oakland, CA: College of California Press, 2022).
  3. In a while, White girls start lagging behind White males, particularly after having youngsters.
  4. Elizabeth Linos, Sanaz Mobasseri, and Nina Roussille, “Asymmetric Peer Effects at Work: The Effect of White Coworkers on Black Women’s Careers” (HKS School Analysis Working Paper Sequence RWP23-031, Harvard Kennedy Faculty of Authorities, Boston, MA, November 2023), 16–17.
  5. Ibid., 17–18. The variety of White coworkers (each women and men) influences turnover, though White males affect it extra; solely the variety of White males influences promotion. My major level right here is that solely Black girls are impacted. No different minoritized or gendered group is impacted by the variety of White coworkers, whether or not girls or males.
  6. Thrive as They Lead: Advancing the Infrastructure to Help Black Girls Leaders in the D.C. Metro Space Nonprofit Sector (Washington, DC: Washington Space Girls’s Basis, 2023), 9.
  7. Ibid., 6
  8. Ibid.
  9. Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility: Why It’s So Arduous for White Folks to Discuss About Racism (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2018).
  10. Yanique Redwood, White Girls Cry and Name Me Indignant: A Black Girl’s Memoir on Racism in Philanthropy (self-pub., 2023).
  11. Collins Dictionary On-line, English Dictionary, s.v. “archetype,” accessed January 28, 2024, www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/archetype#:~:textual content=noun-,1.,universallypercent20presentpercent20inpercent20individualpercent20psyches.
  12. Cady Lang, “How the ‘Karen Meme’ Confronts the Violent History of White Womanhood,” TIME, final modified July 6, 2020, time.com/5857023/karen-meme-history-meaning/.
  13. See for instance Portraits of Us: A Guide of Essays Centering Black Girls Main Philanthropy, ed. Toya Nash Randall (New Orleans, LA: Voice. Imaginative and prescient. Worth., 2023).
  14. Frieda Fordham and Michael S. M. Fordham, s.v. “Carl Jung,” Encyclopedia Britannica, final modified March 18, 2024, www.britannica.com/biography/Carl-Jung.
  15. Ibid.
  16. “The Mother Archetype,” The Jungian Confrerie, accessed January 28, 2024, www.jungian-confrerie.com/phdi/p1.nsf/supppages/8209?opendocument&half=24.
  17. Daryl Sharp, C. G. Jung Lexicon: A Primer of Phrases and Ideas (Toronto, ON: Internal Metropolis Books, 1991).
  18. Ibid.
  19. Carl G. Jung, Man and His Symbols (New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1964), 79.
  20. Mike Sosteric, “A Sociology of Archetypes,” PsyArXiv Preprints, January 5, 2021, osf.io/preprints/psyarxiv/mn7b6.
  21. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, “The German Ideology: Part I,” in The Marx–Engels Reader, 2nd ed., ed. Robert C. Tucker (New York: Norton, 1978).
  22. Nikole Hannah-Jones, The 1619 Mission : A New Origin Story (New York: One World/Penguin Random Home, 2021).
  23. David Lay Williams, “Was slavery a ‘necessary evil’? Here’s what John Stuart Mill would say.,” Washington Put up, July 30, 2020, www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/07/30/was-slavery-necessary-evil-heres-what-john-stuart-mill-would-say/.
  24. Carolyn M. West, “Mammy, Jezebel, Sapphire, and Their Homegirls: Developing an ‘Oppositional Gaze’ Toward the Images of Black Women,” in Joan C. Chrisler, Carla Golden, and Patricia D. Rozee, eds., Lectures on the Psychology of Girls, 4th ed. (Lengthy Grove, IL: Waveland Press, 2008), 287–99.
  25. Ibid.
  26. Ibid.
  27. Martin Patriquin, “How Quebec’s Human Rights Commission Drove Out Its First Black Female President,” The Walrus, October 25, 2022, up to date October 26, 2022, https://thewalrus.ca/how-quebecs-human-rights-commission-drove-out-its-first-black-female-president/.
  28. Redwood, White Girls Cry and Name Me Indignant.
  29. Of the six archetypes described on this article, what number of have you ever skilled? And what different potential White girl archetypes exist? I invite you to take the survey, which could be accessed at: varieties.gle/6nkYuhUH5KbDgwvS7.
  30. Arline T. Geronimus, Weathering: The Extraordinary Stress of Unusual Life in an Unjust Society (New York: Little, Brown Spark, 2023), 10.
  31. Ibid., 94
  32. See “Sanaz Mobasseri, Assistant Professor, Management & Organizations,” Boston College, Questrom Faculty of Enterprise, accessed January 28, 2024, www.bu.edu/questrom/profile/sanaz-mobasseri.
  33. Sanaz Mobasseri, William A. Kahn, and Robin J. Ely, “Racial Inequality in Organizations: A Systems Psychodynamic Perspective,” Academy of Administration Assessment, January 4, 2024.
  34. Richael Devoted and Whitney Benns, “Learning Space/Teach-In: Repair and Accountability,” digital presentation, Washington, DC, Might 20, 2021.
  35. How interventions are used depends upon the state of affairs. For instance, small-group work may embrace the 2 folks in battle and a facilitator. It might be a (bigger) office workforce with information of the battle. Searching for counsel might be figuring out an out of doors individual with a specific experience, relying on the state of affairs. A “resource transfer” might be day without work granted by a superior to an worker who has been harmed.
  36. Tahira Christmon, “Leadership, Healing, and Legacy: Black Women in Philanthropy Retreat Recap,” ABFE, A Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities, accessed January 28, 2024, www.abfe.org/announcement/leadership-healing-and-legacy-black-women-in-philanthropy-retreat-recap/.
  37. “There’s a liberation within you that you can access at any time.,” web site for Erika Totten, accessed January 28, 2024, www.erikatotten.com; and “Welcome to Black Goddess Collective: Where Black Women Create the Life of Their Dreams,” web site for Black Goddess Collective, accessed January 28, 2024, www.blackgoddesscollective.com.
  38. Sherman James and Arline Geronimus, “Striving Is Bad for Your Health,” in Jane Marie, The Dream podcast, season 3, episode 8, October 25, 2023, www.pushkin.fm/podcasts/the-dream/s3-e8-striving-is-bad-for-your-health.


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