Katie Goldman is a cute little first grader who lives in Evanston, Illinois. She’s 7 years old and loves Star Wars. For a while she carried her Star Wars water bottle to school and then, one morning, she asked for the pink one instead. She told her mother that some kids at school had bullied her, telling her that Star Wars was for boys. Heartbroken, she resolved to fix the problem by backing down instead of calling them womp rats.
Her mom, Carrie, runs a blog about her life with Katie. Katie was adopted so she already feels different. On hearing this, her mother said:
“Katie, it is okay to be different. Not all girls need to drink out of pink water bottles,” I told her.
“I don’t want to be too different,” Katie lamented. “I’m already different. Nobody else in my class wears glasses or a patch, and nobody else was adopted. Now I’m even more different, because of my Star Wars water bottle.”
There you have it: the bullying triple-play. A kid who is already fragile, kids at school that are overly confident, and a weird – to some – obsession with something that no one else understands. I’ve been there. I’m sure most of you have been there. There’s little to be done. So Carrie wrote a post about her daughter’s experience and tried to work through it alone. This was on November 15. Then the Internet got involved.
And Katie, my little Star Wars sister? I think I speak for every Epbot reader here when I say: Don’t let the scruffy nerf herders get you down. You rock that water bottle with pride, and know that there are thousands of other fans out there (myself included) who would be proud to share a lunch table with you.
Oh, and may the Force be with you.
In a few hours Katie received thousands of comments offering her words of encouragement. ThinkGeek sent her a light saber. Catherine Taber, the voice of Padme in the Clone Wars contacted her, celebrating her difference. Lucasfilm sent her a bunch of gear, which she shared with her former bullies.
There’s a general call today for people to dress up in Star Wars gear in support of Katie and other geek girls.
Obviously Katie’s story is an outlier and I’m sort of crying as I recount it. It shows that things haven’t changed since I was a tubby kid waddling around the playground of St. Michael’s School in Columbus with my one friend who is still sort of scarred by the stuff we went through. And it wasn’t even that bad, as social ostracism and the occasional smack down go.
There is justice in the world. And I’m heartened to know that folks like Katie are truly not alone these days. That’s good (and that’s scary) because things are changing yet bullying stays the same and the only thing a modern parent can do is hope for the best. Katie got a full blast of geek love. Hopefully more kids like her will get the same.