Deconstructing Karen, a new provocative documentary exposing white women’s role in white supremacy, observes a group of white women as they attend a dinner party in Denver, Colorado, hosted by Race2Dinner co-founders Regina Jackson and Saira Rao. But the buffet of conversation planned to be served at the table is one the attendees aren’t fully prepared to swallow.
Jackson asked the women, “How many of you would trade places with a Black person in this society? Raise your hand.”
Stunned silence and awkward looks were their responses.
One attendee answered, “I don’t know the answer to that.”
Jackson replied, “Well, it’s yes or no. How many of you would do it?”
The woman attempted to defend herself by sharing her experience of dating a Hispanic man.
“I had a relationship with a dark skin Hispanic. For many years, I thought about having children with really dark skin.”
More shocked and confused looks were shared, prompting Jackson to ask the initial question again for clarity — and it gets the women talking.
One guest stated, “I’m not saying there isn’t racism, I just don’t see it.” Another guest admitted that racism is real and knows that she doesn’t experience the same. To her, Jackson frankly quipped, “And you never will.”
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As blindsided as the women appeared to be, they knew what they were getting into. According to the NY Post, Jackson, a Black woman, and Rao, an Indian American woman, launched their dinner-party venture in early 2019. They use the serene setting as a way to inform white women how they are racist. A seat at the table costs $2,500 for a group of eight to 10 white women.
“If you did this in a conference room, they’d leave,” Rao told The Guardian. “But wealthy white women have been taught never to leave the dinner table.”
The dinners are two hours long, and white men and Trump voters are not invited. Jackson and Rao see them as lost causes.
Jackson shared, “White men are never going to change anything. If they were, they would have done it by now.
Jackson added, they focus on liberal white women because they feel they can actually influence them. Those women, in turn, will likely go on to influence their own circles.
In the beginning of the unique experiences, women at the dinners were constantly crying. And some of those early dinners got out of hand, with attendees attempting to place their hands on Jackson and Rao, alongside racial slurs thrown around.
There’s also required reading before attending a dinner, including White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, a popular book articulating that everyone has moments of racism in their lives.
One visit to the Deconstructing Karen website and it’s clear that Jackson and Rao are using these dinners to do more than share recipes. The “Herstory” page on the website provides a timeline of white women’s role in the racist history of America. The co-founders subtitled the page, “Becky and Karen aren’t new characters in the story of Race in America.”
“The dinners are a starting point,” according to Race to Dinner’s about section. The organization describes the sit-downs as “a place to start thinking through how you actively uphold white supremacy every minute of every day.”
The application for the dinner is accessible on the website, and the message for interested guests and hosts is pretty upfront: “Change starts with you.”