Culture

The Latest Racist Karen Proves Not All Of Them Are Middle-Aged White Women

22-year-old 'SoHo Karen' physically attacked a Black teen over an iPhone, but thinks she's not racist because she's "like, a woman of colour".

SoHo Karen Miya Ponsetto

Amidst the mess of everything that happened in the first two weeks of 2021, another Karen emerged and quietly slipped on by relatively unscathed.

But after racially profiling and footage of her physically attacking a Black teen in a New York City hotel at the tail end of 2020, SoHo Karen’s actions finally caught up with her this week.

With a number of charges to her name and an excuse-filled train wreck interview with Gayle King going viral, 22-year-old Miya Ponsetto is now facing the consequences of her actions — and effectively proving that ‘Karen’ is no longer just a name reserved for racist, middle-aged white women.

Who Is SoHo Karen?

On December 26, Black Grammy-winning jazz musician Keyon Harrold shared a disturbing video to social media that showed Miya Ponsetto falsely accusing his 14-year-old son, Keyon Jr., of stealing her iPhone.

Recording of the altercation, which happened in the lobby of the Arlo Hotel in SoHo, showed Ponsetto repeatedly accusing the teen of stealing her iPhone as she tried to block the family from leaving until they “show me the proof”.

As Harrold continued to film, Ponsetto is then seen running at the child and father in an attempt to grab the phone while the hotel manager tries to force the teen into showing the phone in question, too.

“I am furious!!! The lady in this video assaulted my 14-year-old son and me as we came down from our room in the @arlohotels Soho to get breakfast,” Harrold captioned his video on Instagram. “This person quote on quote ‘lost’ her iPhone, and apparently, my son magically acquired it, which merely ridiculous.”

 

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Despite not even being a guest of the hotel, Harrold shared his disappointment that the manager “advocated” for Ponsetto and “empowered” her by trying to use his authority to “force my son to show his phone to this random lady”.

“Her phone was magically returned by an Uber driver a few minutes after this incident,” Harrold also said. “No apology from her after this traumatic situation to my son, not me. No apologies from the establishment. This shit happens so often. It needs to stop!!!”

Explaining that the incident had continued after the video ended, Harrold claimed that Ponsetto also “scratched me, [and] tackled and grabbed [Keyon Jr.]”. A few days after the incident, security footage from the hotel confirmed that Ponsetto did tackle the teen in an attempt to secure the iPhone before fleeing the scene.

As internet sleuths tried to help the NYPD uncover the identity of the mystery woman, who was labelled SoHo Karen due to the racial profiling and location of the attack, Miya Ponsetto was eventually identified a few days later and arrested on Jan 7.

What Makes SoHo Karen So Bad?

Miya Ponsetto was ultimately charged with attempted robbery, grand larceny, acting in a manner injurious to a child and two counts of attempted assault, but in the morning prior to her arrest, SoHo Karen actually managed to squeeze in an exclusive, and now viral, interview with Gayle King on CBS This Morning. 

This interview, however, was really what made everyone take notice of Ponsetto, who had previously skated on by relatively quietly.

While Ponsetto admitted that she “could have approached the situation differently and maybe not yelled at him like that and made him feel some sort of inferior way and making him feel as if I was like, hurting his feelings,” she made excuse after excuse for her actions.

Feeling like one big joke, Ponsetto sat down for the virtual interview wearing a ‘Daddy’ cap, and despite saying that she “considers herself to be super sweet”, silenced the Black interviewer by interrupting and putting a hand out saying “enough” when she didn’t like what what she was hearing.

Not even Ponsetto’s lawyer, who was sat next to her during the interview, saying “stop, stop, stop” under her breath could get the 22-year-old to reel back in the attitude.

Clearly not understanding why she was in the wrong for her targeted attacked, Ponsetto also tried to claim that accusing “a guy” about a phone isn’t a crime.

“I’m a 22-year-old girl, racism? How is one girl accusing a guy about a phone a crime? Where is the context in that? What is the deeper story here?,” she said. “Yeah. The footage shows me attacking [Keyon Harrold’s] son. Attacking him, how? Yelling at him? Yes. I apologise, can we move on?”

The second-half of the interview, released yesterday, paints Miya Ponsetto in an even worse light. In this interview, Ponsetto still peddles this idea that 14-year-old Keyon Jr. did steal her phone — and better yet, that the Harrold family are only “claiming” the child is 14 and that she’s “just as a kid at heart as he is”.

“The hotel did end up having my phone… so, maybe it wasn’t [Keyon Jr.] but at the same time, how is it that as soon as I get asked to leave the premises after I had accused this person of stealing my phone, all of a sudden [the hotel] miraculously have my phone when I come back?” she questioned. “And it didn’t seem as if my accusations really bothered the son and the father because they were just enjoying a nice meal right after this whole encounter.”

The cherry on top, however, was easily Miya Ponsetto’s claims that she simply can’t be racist because she’s a person of colour herself.

“I wasn’t racial profiling whatsoever, I’m Puerto-Rican. I’m, like, a woman of colour. I’m Italian, Greek, I’m Puerto-Rican,” she tried to justify. Confused and seeking clarity, Gayle King asked, “You keep saying you’re Puerto-Rican, does that mean you can’t be racist because you’re saying you’re a woman of colour?”

“Exactly,” Ponsetto confidently replied. “Well, I disagree with that. People of colour can be racist, too,” King sighed.

While Karens have traditionally been older white women, as we saw with Central Park Karen who falsely reported a Black bird watcher to the police after she refused to leash her dog, people like SoHo Karen are particularly dangerous.

The issue with people like Miya Ponsetto is that people of colour tend to think that because they’re not white, they are automatically absolved from racism. But just as Black people can be racist towards Asians, and Asians can be racist to those from the Middle-East, Latinas, like Ponsetto, can very well be racist towards Black people — as she was with her actions to Keyon Harrold and his son.

Plus, it’s quite alarming to see someone as young as Ponsetto at 22, being hell-bent on not taking accountability for her actions and being unable to see why her actions were wrong.

Ponsetto trying to justify her actions by saying that she, as an adult, is “just as a kid at heart as” the literal child she assaulted is insulting. Similarly, Ponsetto attempting to claim that she is just as “traumatised” as the 14-year-old that she racially profiled and physically attacked is disgusting. And Ponsetto’s inability to apologise without trying to rationalise each of her actions with excuses is extremely disappointing.

But above all, what is most scary about SoHo Karen is that this instance proves that truly anyone can be a Karen, not just middle-aged white women determined to speak to the manager.