This is not an exit

A rallying cry for geeks everywhere

In Uncategorized on December 10, 2010 at 1:50 am
Folks from all walks of life rallied around Katie Goldman after word got out she was being bullied at school for liking Star Wars. This hat, fashioned after Princess Leia’s hairdo from A New Hope, is just one of many donations she’s received over the last few days.

When 7-year old Katie Goldman asked for a pink water bottle to take to school, her mother knew something was wrong. After all, the Evanston, Ill. first-grader loved her Star Wars backpack and thermos. Did something happen to them?

Nope.

It turns out Katie had been told that Star Wars is “only for boys” by other kids at school. She had been bullied for being different. That was the final straw.

Katie was different enough already.

She’s adopted. She’s Jewish. She wears glasses and must occasionally don an eye patch because of issues with her left eye. And now she likes “boy stuff.”

What’s a mother to do?

Kids at Katie’s school were just starting to notice the differences between boys and girls, cool and geeky. I remember starting to worry about looking cool in front of other kids at that age, too. From here on out, the shallow stuff — the clothes you wear, the music you listen to and hobbies you enjoy — are all means by which peers measure how “cool” you are. So if Katie was already being teased in elementary school, what could she expect in middle school? High school?

And it’s not like these were just a bunch of random bullies. These were children Katie had known since she started school in Evanston.

So Carrie Goldman wrote for her blog, Portrait of An Adoption.

“Is this how it starts?” she wrote. “Do kids find someone who does something differently and start to beat it out of her, first with words and sneers?”

Upon reading Carrie’s post, Orlando area blogger Jen Yates wrote one of her own, entitled “Geek Girls, ACTIVATE!!” Katie’s story inspired Yates to call on her readers to leave words of support on Carrie’s blog for her first grader.

“Lots of girls love Star Wars, and, dang it, it’s not just ‘Ok’ to be different – sometimes it’s BETTER,” Yates wrote.

And so began the Internet campaign to support Katie Goldman and her right to like Star Wars, even if she’s a girl. Carrie’s blog even drew the attention of Catherine Tabor, who voices Padme Amidala in the Clone Wars cartoon series. The results are overwhelming.

Just try doing a Twitter search for #maytheforcebewithkatie and see for yourself.

The amount of support Katie has received should come as no surprise. After all, there are plenty of geeks — even girl geeks — out there who are perfectly comfortable with who they are. Take Lisa Foiles, for example. What about A.J. Glasser? Us geeks, we’re a tight-knit group.

The comments on Carrie’s blog were so plentiful, in fact, that she had to disable new posts. However, the sequel post has plenty of room for more comments. And, yes, Katie’s read plenty of them. Carrie is in the process of putting a book together so Katie may read a few posts each night before bed.

That’s how the Internet saved one little girl’s sense of identity.

But it doesn’t end there. Today is “Proud To Be Me Day” at Katie’s school, which got me thinking: I’ve got plenty of geeky stuff, myself. In honor of Katie Goldman, and any other kid who’s been teased for the kind of clothes they wear, music they like or other hobbies they enjoy, I’m geeking out a bit.

The only way I know how.

“Proud To Be Me Day” hits close to home. I remember when I wasn’t comfortable with myself. I played Pokemon. I watched The O.C. I was one of the kids who spent lunch quoting The Simpsons and Futurama with his friends … that is, until girls and Frisbee came along.

I can honestly say I wasn’t fully comfortable with my hobbies until my senior year of high school. My friends and the emerging popularity of geek chic, circa 2004, really helped me accept the fact that there was nothing at all wrong with spending a Saturday afternoon playing Final Fantasy IX and listening to Death Cab For Cutie.

Today, let’s prove that it’s okay to be different. Geek out a little. Dig out your old Star Wars, Batman or Super Mario shirt and wear it proudly. If you’re on Twitter, post a link to a photo of yourself in your geek gear. Use #maytheforcebewithkatie or #geekout as the hashtag. I’d love to feature your photo in my Saturday post with your nerd apparel.

After all, Seth Cohen would do it …

Who knows how far Benjamin Gibbard would have made it without this guy.
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  1. 1) I’m pretty much in love with Seth, so points for that.
    2) This is beautifully written, where did you get the story idea? I’m in love with your intro, it’s super-compelling.
    3) It’s 4:48 a.m., I need to stop commenting on your blog an go to bed.

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