Can we not even get our panties in peace? Apparently not at the Short Hills Mall in New Jersey, where Ijeoma Ukenta went to cash in her coupon for a free panty at the mall’s Victoria’s Secret store—but ended up in the midst of a viral “Karen” incident, instead.
According to International Business Times, the incident began while Ukenta was sifting through the store’s assortment of panties for her free pair, and a white woman, since identified as Abigail Elphick, nudged her aside. After a rightful “excuse me” from Ukenta, Elphick apparently tried to flip the aggression, causing Ukenta to turn on her phone camera—just in time to catch Elphick assaulting her.
Of course, after attempting to swat Ukenta’s phone away, Elphick played the victim, acting aghast at a nonexistent assault while crouching and screeching and begging not to be recorded (as if she couldn’t just leave the store herself). In spite of the histrionics, perhaps the most infuriating part of the footage is when another white shopper at the register asks why Ukenta doesn’t just “walk away from her”—as if Elphick is entitled to stay and disturb the peace and Ukenta is the interloper for simply filming to protect herself—or get her free panties.
Frankly, our favorite part of this Razzies-worthy performance is when Elphick gently lays her pocketbook on the ground to serve as a pillow before faux-fainting in front of the register. But wait, there’s more!
Elphick then calls security to complain that Ukenta is recording her “mental breakdown,” complete with decibel-breaking complaints (“Ahh!”) and claims that her heart was racing—after chasing Ukenta around the store. Elphick left the store as security finally arrived (after a prolonged delay)…only to act as if they had no idea what or whom Ukenta was referring to.
Then, when Ukenta requested that Elphick be removed from the mall for her own safety, the officer responding to the scene told her it wasn’t possible—while other officers had a very civil conversation with Elphick, who continued to weaponize her white woman tears. “You get so aggressive with me, get aggressive like that with her,” Ukenta pleaded, citing the store manager’s own testimony as backup.
Thankfully, Ukenta knew to ask for the case number—and pursued an official complaint. The police report was not an entirely accurate recording of what occurred, given that Elphick was the one to initially call the police. However, store management corroborated Ukenta’s account—and Elphick admitted that her fear was losing her job and apartment as a result of her “panic attack” being recorded. What’s most telling is that no officer asked Ukenta about her own emotional wellbeing following the incident. “Look at all this concern for this lady,” she said. “Nobody asked me was I alright, did I need medical attention. For all they know, I could have anxiety, too, and this woman sent me into a panic attack.”
As it turned out, Elphick felt well enough to leave the mall and drive home without assistance—and local police opted to not pursue an investigation on Ukenta’s behalf. In fact, they were entirely dismissive of her claims against Elphick. As of Monday, Ukenta was asking for help with legal representation and had launched a GoFundMe to help with fees, quickly exceeding her fundraising goal (because we’re tired of this shit).
“I am a Black Muslimah Nigerian AM and I was treated like it was 1920 in Short Hills Mall,” the page reads. “I was assaulted and harassed by a white woman and and nothing was done by security nor the police. I’m looking to hire me an excellent attorney who can help me bring light to this wrong…I have been wronged [by] Abigail Elphick (Karen in my videos,) Short Hills Mall security, Millburn Police Department, and most of all humanity. Please help me!”
“I’m traumatized after this…I didn’t really realize the severity of what happened until I watched the videos,” Ukenta expressed in a subsequent video, noting that the adrenaline of the interaction caused her to suppress her emotional response.
“I never felt like a nigga until today—and I don’t mean ‘n-i-g-g-a,’ Ukenta said in a final video. “I mean ‘n-i-g-g-e-r.’”