Begins with a little girl named Katie...
In 2010, a 7-year-old girl named Katie in Evanston, Illinois, was bullied
by kids in her 1st-grade class for having a Star Wars backpack and water bottle.
“Star Wars is for boys,” was among the things they said.
“It hurt a lot,” said Katie.
Her brilliant mom...
When Katie told her mom Carrie Goldman what happened, Carrie wrote
a blog post asking female Star Wars fans to show support for Katie —
and within days, 82,000 people viewed the post, with thousands giving
messages of experience, wisdom and support.
Their story was picked up by Huffington Post and countless sites,
with the hashtag #MayTheForceBeWithKatie. From Carrie’s blog:
"Being different is a complicated topic. We say that we celebrate diversity,
and we preach tolerance. But at the same time, we as adults are often
fearful of those who are different. I see people tease each other for being
gay or poor or overweight. I see grown-ups bullying others for holding
different religious and political beliefs.
I see people publicly lauding diversity and privately attacking those who are different.
It trickles down to kids teasing each other for the types of toys they prefer.
So it starts now, with a couple first graders and a water bottle. Right here,
right now, we as a community need to recognize the slippery slope of bullying
those who are different. We need to show our support for each other’s choices,
as long as they do no harm."
Katie was bullied in first grade, and that gave way to a movement.
And an unexpected, new ally...
At that same time, Star Trek actress Chase Masterson had been volunteer
mentoring men and women coming out of gangs at Homeboy Industries in
Los Angeles for two years, teaching Homeboy’s Life Planning class and working
with them one-on-one to get them into substance abuse programs, parenting
classes, domestic violence intervention, job training, jobs, drivers licenses, etc.
Chase talked with the Homies about their backgrounds and asked
what caused them to get involved in such a painful, destructive lifestyle. Almost every
one of them told her, “I was jumped in. They told me they would kill me if I didn’t join.”
Or, almost as tragic, “it was just part of how I grew up. Bullying and oppression were normal.”
That story, repeated countless times through the years, echoed in Chase’s mind. As she says,
"The dynamics of bullying — whether it’s in grade school, the work place,
relationships, economic bullying, racism, homophobia, terrorism or war —
is the main problem in humanity. It all involves the same dynamic of oppression,
and it is everyone’s responsibility to stand against it."
Chase read Carrie and Katie’s story and was one of several celebrities to post a message of support.
“I love science fiction, and I know lots of girls and women who do. Katie, you be you!”
Chase and Carrie also made direct contact.
In 2011, Carrie and Katie were featured guests at the first Geek Girl Con in Seattle.
Wanting to meet Carrie and Katie in person, Chase flew to take part in the convention.
Chase at Homeboy with mentee Humberto and his daughter Alicia.
There’s an award-winning book...
Carrie, a popular writer whose blog is widely read, decided to do extensive research and write a book on ending bullying. Harper Collins bought the book, and Carrie interviewed Chase, as well as Peter Mayhew, Kenny Baker, Felicia Day, and many other genre celebrities about their experiences.
Carrie’s book, Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear, was published in 2012, receiving critical acclaim and powerful, positive reviews. It won the National Parenting Publication Award and the Mom’s Choice Award, both at the Gold Medal Level. Carrie has become one of the country’s leading keynote speakers and teachers on ending bullying.
And one idea, that led to another...
Carrie asked Chase to help get Bullied into San Diego Comic-Con. Knowing the phenomenal force of pop culture fans and seeing an opportunity for them to band together and combat bullying in all of its forms, Chase said, “Let’s get everyone we can, from both social justice organizations and fandom, to stand together on this issue.”
Curriculum Editor Vanèe Matsalia and Star Trek icon Nichelle Nichols.
Carrie Goldman’s Bullied, published by Harper Collins, has won the National Parenting Publication Award and the Mom’s Choice Award, both at the Gold Medal Level.
And now, we are making history.
In 2013, Chase Masterson and Carrie Goldman founded the Pop Culture Anti-Bullying Coalition, enlisted the United Nations Association and the NOH8 Campaign as Partners, and created the first-ever panel on ending bullying at a pop culture convention. The Coalition kicked off this groundbreaking work with an event featuring its Partners, along with the Anti-Defamation League, Girl Scouts of America, GLSEN, Cartoon Networks’ Stop Bullying: Speak Up, and the International Bullying Prevention Association, marking each NGO’s first-ever appearance at a pop culture convention.
Since 2013, the Coalition’s team has also grown to include several clinical psychologists, along with appearances by celebrities and representatives from DC Entertainment, Amnesty International, Kiva, Justice League New York, and the Juvenile Justice Project, all joining our work at conventions.
In 2014, Chase met Matt Langdon, Founder of the Hero Roundtable and Hero Construction Company; she saw the positivity and power in his message of heroism over bullying, along with research that shows that “heroism” programs are more effective than “anti-bullying” programs. Matt invited Carrie and Chase to speak at the Hero Roundtable 2014. Wanting to lead with a more pro-social message, Chase and Carrie renamed the organization Pop Culture Hero Coalition, and they invited Matt to become a Co-Founder.
In 2015, the Coalition hosted the first-ever appearance of a United Nations Representative at a pop culture event. UN Development Inclusive Political Processes Programme Team Leader Charles Chauvel participated in the Coalition’s SuperheroIRL panel.
Despite financial issues, Carrie and Chase self-funded this work for the first two-and-a-half years.
In late 2015, the Coalition applied for nonprofit status and was approved by the IRS in a groundbreaking seven working days.
At San Diego Comic-Con in 2016, the Coalition held the first Justice Rally ever to take place at a pop culture con, led by civil rights icon / Senator John Lewis‘ Policy Advisor Andrew Aydin, Co-Author of award-winning graphic novel trilogy, MARCH.
In late 2016, the Coalition began partnering with our clinical psychologists and nonprofit Random Acts to create a Crisis Support Network for children and teens.
Also in late 2016, the Coalition began to create research-based curriculum for schools. This curriculum will be the first of its kind, using stories kids love to teach inclusivity and heroism over bullying, racism, misogyny, LGBTQ-bullying, and cyberbullying. The curriculum will meet Common Core standards. Carrie Goldman serves as Curriculum Director and is leading the team of curriculum authors, which includes Dr. Andrea Letamendi,
Dr. Janina Scarlet, Dr. Ali Mattu, Matt Langdon, Leslie Meiselman, and Curriculum Editors Vanèe Matsalia and Brandon Matsalia. The curriculum will be pilot-tested and researched in schools prior to becoming available to the public. Our disabilities outreach, created by Scott Palm, has two primary components: resilience and other mental health resources for children with physical disabilities, and lessons on inclusion, which are geared toward their peers.
It is our goal to give the curriculum free of charge to schools that cannot afford programs to end bullying, which are often costly.
Stay tuned. More groundbreaking work ahead.
2015: In a groundbreaking intersection of social justice, mental health and pop culture, Pop Culture Hero Coalition created a panel sponsoring the United Nations’ and Justice League NY’s first comic-con appearances, with psychologist and PCHC Curriculum Creator Dr. Janina Scarlet discussing the key ways they are intertwined.
From left to right: Global CVE Expert and Comic Creator Suleiman Bakhit, Impractical Jokers’ Joe Gatto, Founding Member of Justice League NY / Juvenile Justice Project Campaign Manager Angelo Pinto, United Nations Inclusive Political Process Team Leader Charles Chauvel,
PCHC’s Carrie Goldman, Dr. Janina Scarlet, Chase Masterson.