Dear Karen, Not You, the Other Karen

Dear Karen, no, not you, the other Karen.  Yes, you. I wanted to tell you how sorry I am about the hijacking of your name. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jami. I have no “e.” My parents left it off. Perhaps because they wanted to be original, or cute, hence the Jami Jo.  

It was darling when was I five but at 49, I find it questionable.  

When I was 11, my mother grew tired of my complaints about my lack of vowels and offered to take me to have my name changed to “Jamie.” And while I coveted the little license plates and glitter embossed pencils in the museum gift shop with Karen, Beth, and Emily, neatly printed on each, I am Jami with no e.  

So we never went to the courthouse to make the change.

And while my Uncle Jim insisted on calling me “Charlie,” because “Jami is a boy’s name,” it is also, my name. Gifted to me by adoring parents and a desperate wish from my beloved Grandma Mickey who hoped to name her daughter Jami, with no e, but met with great objections from her mother. 

And so, this letter is not to criticize, rant, or rave, this is a letter to say, I am sorry that society has messed with your name.  

I hope you know, your name originated from Scandinavian descent, as did I.  First, let me encourage you.  Karen is an excellent choice in the lineage of Scandanavian names.  My Great Grandmother, who immigrated from Norway was named Solveig.

Yeah, this is the same woman that found the name Jami objectionable.    

I also hope you know, Karen means “pure.” 

It is this meaning that I love.  

The other day on the news there was a report about the rise in cases of the Delta variant of Covid-19.  The reporter displayed a map of “hot spots” and went on to say, the majority of unvaccinated “spreaders” are made up of Christians in the South.  I stopped in my tracks. 

I am a Christ-follower in the South and I am vaccinated. 

Granted, I rarely leave my house, because you know, people, but I am traveling to New York, to deliver my daughter to college, (insert wailing and gnashing of teeth) in two weeks.  I am not hard-headed, nor do I consider myself a dummy, but I did what I felt was in the best interest of my daughter, myself, other travelers, and is required by her school.  

And before everyone goes nuts and starts commenting about how I shouldn’t have, or whatever your opinion is, the vaccine is already in my person… let it go.  

My point with that is, the raging opinions and ranting of this side, that side, us, them, and all the others, seem entirely too loud lately. 

But you, Karen, your name still means, pure.  

Recently, my sister made the observation about all the signage instructing us to “Be Kind.”  But she went on to say, it seems like no one is being kind at all.  And I agree.  We aren’t being kind.  

Division seems to be the name of the game.  

Democrat, republican, protestant, catholic, race, creed, color, and toilet paper usage are morphed into pre-determined groups, and the world stands by ready to name, isolate, reject, rebel, fight, and condemn.  Granted, in an age of viral videos of humans losing their cool and behaving badly, division can sometimes be a blessing.

After all, we learn from bad behaviors just as we learn from good ones. 

But I reject the idea that any belief system or culture can be easily lumped and branded into good or bad based on the latest fad.  We may have huge gaps in agreements, but we are unified in our humanity. 

The labeling of irate, rebellious, privileged white women, under your name, is not fair to you whose name means pure.  

I am sorry, and I don’t know that it even really matters, except for the baby girl in a car seat at the grocery store today.  The beautiful doe-eyed, caramel-skinned darling was a little nugget of perfection.  Jet black curls framed her dimpled face.  I stood behind her mother in line and when our eyes met I said, “Your baby is just beautiful!”  We chatted a bit and I refrained from begging to hold the little cherub, but I did ask, “What is her name?” 

And her mother hesitated and then she said, “Karen.”

Before I could say anything the woman said, “I know, it is the least popular name in the country.  And my husband is African-American and my father was Columbian, so we had the conversation, ‘we are naming our baby a name that is very unpopular, and really isn’t normal for little brown babies.’ But, it was my mom’s name. She died in a car accident two years ago.  I just wanted to bless my daughter with her grandmother’s name.  It was like I was giving a piece of my mom to her, even though she will never experience how wonderful my mother was.”

I still hadn’t picked up my hormone cream from the pharmacy, and that is why I feel it was completely acceptable that I burst into tears and found myself hugging this dear young woman and celebrating her baby’s wonderful name.   

OH MY WORD, we both had masks on… everyone calm down.  


Spring-loaded for a fight and ready to accuse every Tom, Dick, and Karen of horrible atrocities against humanity, I wanted to let you know, it’s not you Karen, it is us and… them. I looked at that little muppet, dressed in purple polka-dots, vigorously gnawing on her pacifier, and thought, I could take one for the team.  I don’t know what team?  But I thought I could pull a “privileged white woman” meltdown right here in Kroger. Perhaps I have just enough notoriety, if it were ugly enough – if I lost my ever-loving mind because the peaches were mushy, could the “Karen” trend be swapped for the “Jami with no e” trend?  

Could a bad deed by me mean peace for wee Karen and her delightful (and OMGOSH GORGEOUS) momma?  

Alas, I am Jami with no e, who decisively doesn’t like to cause a scene.  

But I do have words.  And while they may not meet you, now, they are out there, along with millions of Karens who do not fit into the crude model you have been dealt.  

I admit, I knew a Karen once, she was less than delightful.  But I have known other Karens who were some of the most fantastic humans on the planet.  I imagine there are some Jamis wandering the globe wishing for an e, behaving badly, and running our good name through the mud.  

Still, it is my name.  It is important to me. 

I guess I just wanted you to know, Karen, your name means pure.  It is a lovely name, with a spot-on spelling, just the right number of vowels, and long history of Greats.  

Karens have conquered kingdoms, saved lives, taught the masses, fought for justice, nursed babies, kissed boo-boos, fed, clothed, and nurtured, the least of these.  I don’t know why your parents chose to gift you this name, but I bet you do, and I know that it means something important to you. 

In a world of labels and severance, where we must tiptoe the fine line between offenses and defenses,  I guess I just wanted you to know, there are still people who recognize the human behind the label. 

Greater, the label only has power if we let it rob us of our true self.

It is interesting, the lines drawn dividing us are actually an opportunity for us to look more closely at what we are saying and who we are saying it about. And while the powers of whoever attempt to dictate what we feel, believe, and say, while constantly blasting us with negativity, hate, and opinion from the same high horse demanding we “be kind,” there’s the rest of us. 

The Jamis, the Karens, the Kates, Mirandas, Emilys, and Shellys, we are ALL more complex than the stories reported, the color of our skin, poverty, wealth, orientation, or the good or bad acts of each.  I guess that is what I hate most about the #Karen craze.  More division, more false assumptions, which all lead to more unwarranted hatred among us.

I am you. We are all part of this miraculous tapestry called humanity. 

Yeah, we have all made mistakes, but I am sorry that someone else’s mistake attempted to taint your good name.  And if this does reach you, I hope you rally the pride of the Vikings who coined it and remember the baby girl in a grocery store in South Texas, who like you, should be very proud of a pure and lovely name, such as Karen.  

May you rise to the occasion, that all might call you blessed.  

Love, Jami with no e

P.S. Go check out my good friend Shelby Spear’s talented and wonderful daughter and her magical music @pure_kahrin on Instagram and Spotify here!  She is pure magic.  Also, she’s actually KAR-Hin, a fourth-generation Norwegian. She’s a beautiful soul. Love her and her music, I think you will too!



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  1. Laura ODonnell on August 11, 2021 at 7:54 am

    The whole off kilter world or at least the US needs to read this! So tired of labels and you’ve written what I couldn’t say without having to apologize later.

  2. Sara on August 11, 2021 at 12:09 pm

    You have no idea how many times I’ve said, ‘I’m glad I’m not named Karen.’ I feel so sad for for the poor Karens out there. I don’t know who decided to use this name to punish white women, but I wish they hadn’t done this. It’s scary out there…meaning outside my home. Humans have gotten seriously mean and my heart on my sleeve personality can’t take much more. I keep telling myself…it will be okay, God’s in heaven. Thank you for this, Sara without an h

    • Karen on August 12, 2021 at 5:12 pm

      You may be glad but you do realize a lot of us Karen’s are proud of our names. To me, reading that, is almost as bad as the rest, like we shouldn’t be proud of our names because some ahole decided rather than calling someone a jerk or whatever they really are they’d be cute and call her Karen.

      I was named after my Norwegian great grandmother who immigrated here from Norway back in the 1910’s.

      Don’t feel bad for us, help us change things. As a Sara without the h I would think you could relate as much as Jami.

      Jami, thank you gor sharing this!

  3. Glenna McKelvie on August 11, 2021 at 12:54 pm

    Fabulous post! I have a niece named Karen and it seems unfair

  4. LAUREN Koepf SPARKS on August 11, 2021 at 1:56 pm

    Jami with no e, this is perfect for my friend Karen who has really been hurt by this stupid trend. And it’s perfect for all of us, really. I’m sharing it now.

  5. Carolyn Cheer on August 11, 2021 at 2:53 pm

    I love this! I was just talking yesterday with my neighbour about the division that is happening right under our noses. The sheep in wolves clothing now wears a vaccine – if you get it your this, if you don’t get it your that! How about, you are still you with either the vaccine or not. You are still you. neither higher nor lower than another – still you.

  6. Kirsten Heatherly on August 11, 2021 at 9:46 pm

    You know my children tell me that the infamous Karen came from the lady on tv with many children who divorced her husband and lost her tv show. I loved her hair, to me it is the epitome of southern chic mom. But know with the ruination of poor Karen, I’m no longer allowed to where my hair the way I like it, because it is her haircut too. And apparently, very embarrassing for the boys. Mother, you may not wear Karen hair! I agree, it is very unfair that one unpleasant tv rich white woman has ruined names and hair for a bunch of us… dang it all!

  7. Kristie on August 12, 2021 at 5:07 am

    How you come up with the stuff you write boggles the mind. This was genius! I can’t believe a beautiful name like Karen is now kind of a slur, I don’t get it. The world can be scary, thank you God that we know the only one truly in control is you. Thanks for writing this, all the Karen’s need to hear it. From Kristie with me Ch or y.

  8. Karen Yeager on August 12, 2021 at 3:45 pm

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  9. Karen on August 12, 2021 at 4:32 pm

    Your lovely essay made me cry. I’m in a large online support group with 1600 women named Karen, some of whom have felt afraid to even introduce themselves to anyone; we even made a website to try to explain to people how scary and hurtful the “Karen” thing has become. That you took the time to think of women named Karen and write this means so much to me. Any time I see signs that there are still people in the world who think of our name as our name, rather than as a badge of shame, it gives me hope. But that you really saw so clearly and took the trouble to reach out to women and girls named Karen in this way feels like someone reaching out a hand from the sane world we used to live in, the world I hope we’ll all get back to when this pandemic is over; I feel like I still haven’t fully expressed it but I can’t put it any more clearly than that. Thank you — and thank you to the other people I see here who are not named Karen but who get it and who support us. Thank you so much. I hope everyone stays safe and healthy.

  10. Karen P on August 12, 2021 at 5:10 pm

    Thanks for this. My name is Karen and it has been extremely painful having my normal, pretty name that my sweet parents chose for me when they were very young destroyed like this. I no longer give my name in public under any circumstances. The issue of white supremacy and racism is very real. This article is the first I’ve seen acknowledging the pain of people like me who have this name (none of us named ourselves) and how it feels to have that primary part of our identities trashed by the entire culture.

  11. Karyn on August 12, 2021 at 5:29 pm

    As a Karyn with no e, I’m so grateful for your words!

  12. Karen on August 12, 2021 at 7:46 pm

    Thank you! This put tears in my eyes. I’m glad I found your post. I needed this today and every day. ❤️

  13. Karen A Griffin on August 13, 2021 at 12:04 am

    Thank you so much for this! I used to laugh it off when it first started, then it was annoying, but when the behavior got worse, and when people expected that behavior from me when they learned my name, that’s when it became really painful. My parents gave me this name 55 years ago, and I had started becoming ashamed of it. As I was reading the last section, I decided not to be. Thank you again, Jami. I needed this today.

  14. Karen Alexander on August 13, 2021 at 6:56 am

    Thank you so very, very much. This means the world to me and thank you for the flowing of my tears. I’ve kept it bottled up for a long time, too long.

  15. Karen on August 13, 2021 at 9:57 am

    Thank you so much for seeing us, helping reclaim “Karen”.
    My middle name is Ann – always wanted an e as a child. Some years ago I realized it was absolutely perfect without.
    Much love to you

  16. Karen Lynch on August 13, 2021 at 2:35 pm

    I literally cried when I read this . I wish my friends could be this understanding. I have friends that haven’t spoken to me in many months because I complained about the Karen meme .
    God bless you ❤️❤️❤️

  17. Karen Sweeney on August 13, 2021 at 3:44 pm

    Dear Jami,

    I read your article about Karens and I had tears rolling down my face! It was so thoughtful and so beautiful. I can assure you that about 1,700 other Karens are reading your article and crying as well. We rarely get anyone to stand up for us and this thing has been a nightmare. We are so tired. It’s like a constant battle everyday. So this means more to us than you know. God bless you and thank you again. I, along with other Karens are beyond appreciation for your beautiful heart and words.

  18. KD on August 13, 2021 at 3:46 pm

    Dear Jami (with no E)

    I read your article about Karens and I had tears rolling down my face! It was so thoughtful and so beautiful. I can assure you that about 1,700 other Karens are reading your article and crying as well. We rarely get anyone to stand up for us and this thing has been a nightmare. We are so tired. It’s like a constant battle everyday. So this means more to us than you know. God bless you and thank you again. I, along with other Karens are beyond appreciation for your beautiful heart and words. This will not be forgotten!

  19. Karen M. on August 14, 2021 at 7:30 pm

    Thanks so much!

  20. Karrin on August 15, 2021 at 8:18 am

    Thank you so much for this as a Karrin, like you with a different spelling, recently I am hesitant when meeting anyone new because I have to say my name. I always get “oh are you one of those Karen’s?” As a child I loved my name being different. I knew one other than myself all through school and growing up. I believe, though I cringe when I hear my name used in that manner, that I’ve tried even harder to handle everyone and everything with grace and as of late I hoped that it’s made me a kinder human.

  21. Karen Chavana on August 15, 2021 at 9:35 am

    Thank you for this!

    I come from a home of five girls and we all start with the letter “K”. I was the chosen one, to receive the name Karen. These past few years have been really hard. Sadly, I’m judged, based on my name, before anyone gets to know me. And when people do find out what my name is, I have to act extra, extra nice and bubbly. Also, I had to change my name in all my restaurant mobile apps, because of the way I was being treated, when I arrived to pick up my food/drinks. Starbucks was the WORST!
    It’s kind of weird that you feel compelled to apologize for the general public, for how they have made my name derogatory. But thank you for doing so! ☺️

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