A few months behind the curve here, but who cares?
I finally see the validity in blogging. I was drawing the newest Yoda in Other Movies at my newly organized desk with the window open listening to some Royal Crown Revue when Mal came into my room telling me to read something. She dropped her computer on my phone (grrr…) and the newest issue of Avengers (!!?!??!), telling me I had to read this CNN article about little Katie Goldman from Evanston, Illinois. Ordinarily, to things like this I’d say forward it to me, and maybe get around to it eventually. But the picture of the adorable 7 year old wielding a replica of Yoda’s Lightsaber caught my attention.
As I read, I began to cry. Allow me to re-tell the story…
Katie Goldman is a first grader in Illinois. She’s an adopted Jewish girl, who wears glasses and occasionally has to wear an eye patch for problems she has with her eye. I’ve attached a picture below, this adorable little girl could melt your heart.
Katie is a major Star Wars fan (as all children should be!), but apparently for a seven year old girl, this holds major ramifications…
Everybody remembers going to get a new back pack and lunch box every September for the new school year. And for Katie, it was no different. Being a huge Star Wars fan, she selected a nice Star Wars backpack and water bottle to take to school ever day (and we’re not talking the new less-desirable Star Wars caliber of Star Wars merch, we’re talking classic Star Wars merch!). Katie was incredibly excited about it, and filled her bottle each morning while her mom packed her lunch. But one day, Katie came home asking for a new water bottle, saying her Star Wars bottle was too small. She dug through the kitchen cabinet until she found an even smaller pink bottle, and said this would be better. Carrie Goldman, Katie’s mother, was confused. Katie had always loved Star Wars, why does she want a shitty pink bottle?
Carrie began asking Katie why she wanted to switch, to no avail. After pressing the issue a bit, Katie broke down crying.
“The first grade boys are teasing me at lunch because I have a Star Wars water bottle. They say it’s only for boys. Every day they make fun of me for drinking out of it. I want them to stop, so I’ll just bring a pink water bottle.” (Quote from Katie from Carrie Goldman’s blog.)
It’s bad enough she gets teased for wearing glasses and an eyepatch, and for being Jewish and adopted, but now she’s being teased for one of the things that brings her the most joy in the world. Straight up, I began to cry reading the CNN story and the Blog.
Here’s where I learned why blogging actually holds some weight. Carrie writes a blog called Portrait of an Adoption, and wrote about the story of how her 7 year old was bullied into conforming. Little did she know that this would start a huge internet following. Apparently her blog post got passed along to anyone and everyone, and it also made their hearts sink.
So what happened? Everyone started sending her everything in support. Women of Star Wars sent her strong messages of how girls can love Star Wars, and it’s okay to be a girl and like things that are considered ‘boy things’. Artists sent her pictures of her as a Jedi. Hell, ThinkGeek sent her a replica Yoda Lightsaber! People started sending all kinds of toys and memorabilia, but more importantly messages of support.
For those of you who know me, you probably understand why something as seemingly simple as this moved me the way it did. For those of you who don’t, allow me to explain…
The single most important thing to me in this world that isn’t a person is Star Wars. People ask me why I’m a film major, or why I love movies so much, and my answer is very simple; Star Wars. I still remember being a kid seeing the 1997 re-release of Empire Strikes Back with Dad and Mal, and cherish it as one of my favorite memories. The original Star Wars movies speak to me more than any other thing have. I’ve always said this; “Some people have religion, and that’s great. I have Star Wars.” To be told that Star Wars is something that’s not for you, or is stupid, to a fan, it’s hurtful.
But the real reason why this spoke to me was because in a sense, I once was Katie Goldman.
To be incredibly vague and un-detailed, I had a terrible Elementary/Middle School experience. I was always pretty chunky, I was asthmatic, I had glasses, I was the new kid, and I too loved what I loved, and loved to let everyone know about it; namely Star Wars (which evidentially meant I was gay, too… though I wasn’t/am not…. not that there’s anything wrong with that of course). So here I am a fat new asthmatic gay kid with a stigmatism smack dab in the middle of 200 kids all going through their Ass-Hole-To-Everyone-Phase. I can tell you stories that have made people cry; in hindsight, I’m not entirely sure how I could have endured what I endured in Middle School day in and day out. The short answer is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (the other reason I’m a film major).
It makes me think. You hear about all these stories of cyber-bullying, or about these kids that are tortured in school to the point where they attempt to, and even sometimes succeed in, killing themselves. It’s something that actually is an issue in schools, not the flavor of the month for late night news. Little girls like Katie are at an early age are being forced to deal with being frowned upon because she likes something like Star Wars, and it’s just not right. From personal experience, it’s a hard thing to deal with day in and day out, and it really changes you. It fucks with you mind, leaves you feeling the upmost sense of vulnerability and loneliness.
Schools need to be doing way more about things like this. I know from what I’ve seen, a lot of people that work in schools do not belong there. If you have a degree in child psychology, fucking use it. It’s never going to stop, and never going to disappear forever; you just can’t change that from the age of 12 to 17, but doing nothing *cough schools cough* makes it worse. It has to be known to people that shit as simple as ‘Bahaha that’s a boy’s water bottle’ really has serious ramifications to people.
And parents need to stop raising their children like livestock. If you’re child is an asshole, until they are old enough to know better (and even beyond that), they are your responsibility, your job, and your proof of how good a parent you are. Parent’s need to stop the ‘Fuck it’ attitude and sit their kids down and tell them how it is. No one likes being bullied, and it has real effects. Is calling some one fag, fatty, ugly, retarted, etc worth being responsible for that person’s death? Seriously, what goes through the mind of the kid who picked on the other kid that killed himself after the deed is done? How do you live with that?
I’ve come to realize that it’s all about communication. Kids need to know that bullying, hazing, and actions along those lines is a serious offense. And on the opposite end, everyone needs to know that whatever you like, men, women, Star Wars, sports, photography, falconry, you name it, it’s okay. It’s you, you have to like what you do and wear and say, not anyone else.
I leave with this message to Katie in hopes that at some point she or her mother will read my blog…
Katie, What you like is what you like, and it’s totally okay. You need to do whatever it is that will make you happy, because in the end, you are responsible for you, and you alone. A lot of times people like to make you feel awful just because they themselves aren’t happy with who they are. Buy you should be happy about who you are! You’re a beautiful young girl who loves one of the most awesome-est things on the face of the entire planet; Star Wars! And I will say this; when you get older, you’re knowledge and love of Star Wars is going to be one of your best qualities, because boys love girls who love Star Wars! Whenever people are getting you down, or you feel like bullying back, just remember what Yoda said to Luke in Return of the Jedi:
“A Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware. Anger, fear, aggression. The dark side are they. Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.”
The Force is with you, Katie!!
Read the CNN article HERE
Read Carrie’s blog post HERE