Woman Labeled “Black Karen” Goes Viral, Sparking Racial Debate About Word “Trap”

Old video reignites race conversation and discusses if the words “trap” belongs to Black people.

A woman seemingly over-policing Black culture has gone viral and now, wears the name “Black Karen.”

Alewia Tola Roba, the person behind the camera, came into an Asian-owned boba shop in Colorado and accused them of cultural appropriation and “stealing Black culture” because they used the word “trap” and “plug” as a part of the store’s name and in their logo. Although the video is a few years old, a re-circulated version has more than two million views.

The Aurora establishment is called Trap Tea, according to Next Shark.

Roba, a Denver resident of Ethiopian descent, was offended and asserted that the Indonesian business was allegedly tricking people into thinking they were Black-owned to get customers.

“Do you think you’re not using Black culture to gain attention?” Roba asks. “Trap Tea? The boba plug? You’re using Black culture to gain customers. This establishment is not Black-owned. You’re stealing Black culture.”

People working behind the camera tried to explain there was no offense, but she shut them down, saying, “You’re thieves! Asian people stealing Black culture once again. It’s OK, you’ll be exposed though. You’re not Black-owned. You’re stealing Black culture.”

Many on social media thought Roba was taking it too far.

“Black people that get mad at other races using our ‘culture’ what do you want? You want it to remain exclusive to Black people only? Are you wanting to unite? Or is the goal to stay divided? I really hate Black people like this because it gives us a bad name,” one person tweeted, while another said, “Imagine gatekeeping the slang word for the location of drugs.”

A Reddit user wrote, “A trap house is a house known for drug dealing (usually old and rundown, where drugs are made/sold). I highly doubt ANY race would claim that as their ‘culture.'”

Roba owns her own company, Alewia’s Hair Care, which she claims is Black-owned and only uses homemade products free of harsh chemicals and sulfate. Another person showed how the Trap Tea owners changed their name and responded to all the attention that Roba had sent their way.

The brand took to Instagram and the wrote in August 2020, “Today has been an interesting day and we have received a ton of exposure. Some good and some bad but at the end of the day we want everyone to know that trap tea is about love and bringing everyone together.”

The company has since changed its name to “Banned Boba Bar.”

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