(Photo Credits: Screengrab from @abc7newsbayarea’s Official Twitter Account)
The social media is abuzz thanks to the latest “Karen” incident in a posh neighborhood called the Pacific Heights in San Francisco.
Reportedly, a Filipino gay man named James Juanillo was stenciling the words “Black Lives Matter” using chalk in front of his house when a couple named Lisa Alexander and Robert Larkin confronted him about it.
Karen, by the way, is defined as:
a term used in the United States for a person perceived to be entitled or demanding beyond the scope of what is considered appropriate or necessary. A common stereotype is that of a racist white woman who uses her privilege to get her own way at the expense of others. Depictions also include demanding to “speak to the manager”, being an anti-vaxxer, or having a particular bob cut hairstyle.
Alexander could be heard in the video footage saying, “Respectfully, absolutely, your [Black Lives Matter] signs and everything, that’s good, but this is not the way to do it. It’s private property.”
Juanillo says, “You don’t know if I live here or if this is my property.”
To which Alexander says, “We actually do know.”
Juanillo then told the couple to “call the police.” Watch the video of the incident below:
A white couple call the police on me, a person of color, for stencilling a #BLM chalk message on my own front retaining wall. “Karen” lies and says she knows that I don’t live in my own house, because she knows the person who lives here. #blacklivesmatter pic.twitter.com/rOpHvKVwgP— Jaimetoons (@jaimetoons) June 12, 2020
Shortly after the incident, the cops arrived to their home but that they didn’t even get out of their patrol car because they recognized Juanillo. He simply informed them that he did the Black Lives Matter chalk stencil which, in turn, the police officer admired, saying, “‘Great stenciling work!’ before driving off.”
In an interview with KQED, Juanillo explained that “Lisa and Robert knew it was chalk art, and that it was going to be washed away in the first rain.” Juanillo believed the chalk wasn’t the couple’s problem but rather the “Black Lives Matter message itself.”
“And once I knew that, I can act how I needed to act. It was simple after that.” Juanillo added, “They’re wrong. And they rode that racial bias all the way off a cliff.”
Further, Juanillo said, “You can presume that she knew by calling the police that I could possibly die. She was OK with that. Even knowing that I was just working with chalk, she’s willing to call men with guns.”
Juanillo and his husband has been a resident in Pacific Heights for 18 years where they also own a small dog walking business called Pack Heights. He explained, “in the predominantly wealthy, predominantly white Pacific Heights neighborhood, It’s not unusual at all for me to get a look like, ‘Do you belong here?'”
He is, however, open to meet and talk with Alexander again. “If you want to come to my house and talk to me like an equal then I will hear what you have to say and consider an apology.”
After the story had gone viral online, Juanillo’s neighbors responded to the issue by creating sidewalk chalk stencil art of their own in addition to his “Black Lives Matter.”
‘CHALK OVER HATE’: James Juanillo’s SF house has become a canvas for the #BLM message after a #viralvideo showed a couple confronting him for writing "Black Lives Matter” on his own property. #blacklivesmatter https://t.co/tMtRN599Pr pic.twitter.com/TXU51zVXhe— ABC7 News (@abc7newsbayarea) June 16, 2020
As a result of the incident, Robert Larkin was fired by his employer, the Raymond James wealth management firm.
Birchbox, on the other hand, pulled their beauty products from LaFace Skincare. Lisa Alexander is reportedly the CEO of LaFace Skincare, a cosmetics company. As of this writing, the company’s website is no longer available.
A note from the Birchbox Team regarding Lisa Alexander and LAFACE. pic.twitter.com/CZSpBQegeA— Birchbox (@birchbox) June 13, 2020
Alexander had since then apologized for the incident, saying, “I would love to have coffee with Mr. Juanillo in our neighborhood so I can apologize in person and share a dialogue where I can continue to learn and grow and be a better person.”
#BlackLivesMatter | Lisa Alexander says she wants to apologize directly to Mr. Juanillo: ⬇️— Luz Peña (@LuzPenaABC7) June 14, 2020
“The last 48 hours have taught me that my actions were those of someone who is not aware of the damage caused by being ignorant”
For his part, Larkin has also issued an apology to KPIX 5. The statement said:
Over the last two days, I have had my eyes opened wide to my own ignorance of racial inequity, and I have thought a lot about my own personal blind spots. I was wrong to question Mr. Juanillo, and I was wrong to call the neighborhood police watch. It was wrong, and I am profoundly sorry for treating him with disrespect.
I have a lot to learn about how racism impacts people in their lives, daily. I have hurt my neighbor. I am full of regret and very sorry. I am hoping to meet with him soon to express my sincere apology and to ask his forgiveness and guidance in helping me begin the journey towards being a kinder, more thoughtful and sensitive person.</blockquote>
Meanwhile, some netizens criticized Juanillo for not explaining to the couple that he lives in the property.
“Do you really think they’re going to believe me if I point out a $10 million house and say I live there?” Juanillo explained. “She kind of said this very clearly, placating, condescending, speaking-to-a-fifth-grader tone, and that’s what I responded to.”
Take a look at some of the netizens’ reactions regarding the incident below:
Why don't you just say, "Hi, this is my place, it's fine. I'm Jaime, nice to meet you." So they're busybodies, they don't seem like my kind of people, but it's not that hard to get along with your neighbors. You're the one that mentioned the cops. Enough microaggressions.— Pat Dixon (@patdixon) June 14, 2020
Because saying “Nice to meet you” would be a lie. And they already decided I was a liar when they didn’t believe me, when I clearly said I was not doing anything illegal. You think they would have believed me if I said I lived in this enormous mansion?— Jaimetoons (@jaimetoons) June 14, 2020
Ppl are saying he should of answered, probably. The point is if this woman (like most ppl) would ask him the same question if he was a white man? Most likely no.(unless the wht person in question has a “bad” appearance) Why? societal and racial discrimination + stereotype.— Elle Haute Monstre (@hautemonstre) June 14, 2020
A similar incident occurred on May 25, 2020 (the same day as the George Floyd incident) where Amy Cooper, a white woman, called the cops on Christian Cooper, a gay Black man. The latter asked that she put her dog on a leash as per Central Park requirements. As a response, Amy called 911 to report that she and her dog were being threatened by “an African-American man.”
Amy Cooper, the white woman who called police on a black man during an encounter involving her unleashed dog, has issued an apology. That man, Christian Cooper, tells CNN “while she may not consider herself a racist, that particular act was definitely racist.” pic.twitter.com/4mxakOVK5l— CNN (@CNN) May 27, 2020