There was no direct connection between the “Central Park Karen” incident in New York City and the police killing of 46-year-old George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, beyond the coincidence of timing. Time in the pandemic has been elastic and confusing, and reports of the separate incidents did not emerge immediately, but the two events occurred on Monday 25 May, Memorial Day. The video footage of the two incidents loomed over the strange, violent summer of coronavirus and civil unrest as a kind of digital diptych representing the state of racism – and whiteness – in America in 2020. On one side we had Floyd being slowly and mercilessly suffocated to death beneath the knee of the white male police officer Derek Chauvin, a brutal portrait of the implacable indifference to Black life that defines American policing. On the other side was the 40-year-old white investment manager and scofflaw dog-owner Amy Cooper, an avatar for the respectable white civilian who demands that violence be brought to bear on her behalf because a Black man has dared to expect her to abide by the rules governing public space. (…) It was through that performance that Amy Cooper took on the mantle of an American archetype: the white woman who weaponizes her vulnerability to exact violence upon a Black man. In history, she is Carolyn Bryant, the adult white woman whose complaint about a 14-year-old Emmett Till led to his torture and murder at the hands of racist white adults. In literature, she is Scarlett O’Hara sending her husband out to join a KKK lynching party or Mayella Ewell testifying under oath that a Black man who had helped her had raped her. In 2020, she is simply Karen.
Julia Carrie Wong in The year of Karen: how a meme changed the way Americans talked about racism (Guardian)