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How 13 Year Old Sophia Succeeds in Fighting Racism

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ColorblindLead

For anyone who thinks that all young teenage girls do is undergo pubescent fits, where they sing lyrics to Ariana Grande and have crushes on teenage boys, one would be gravely mistaken when it comes to Sophia Carroll. Thirteen year-old Sophia prefers to be the one that stands up to bullying, especially when it comes to her peers.

As a middle-school student in the Hazelwood district of St. Louis, Missouri, Sophia has witnessed a great deal of bullying among her peers – pushing, shoving, name calling. Sadly, the bullying targeting the special needs kids at her school seems to be even worse. Sophia recounts the story of a special needs student who was being bumped into and pushed around by several students. Witnessing this, Sophia rushed over to help the student, telling the students to leave him alone. She helped him become more comfortable in the school and befriended him. This was not the first special needs child Sophia had saved from bullying and the principal, taking note of her actions, treated Sophia to lunch and commended her on sticking up for the special needs kids at her school.

Sophia and her Family

Sophia and her Family

Seeing how young people can be bullied and abused, Sophia, by nature, is very protective of her siblings. Normally, the protective sibling is thought to be the oldest, but with 7 siblings ranging in age from 13-32 – Sophia is the youngest – she trumps the stereotype of the youngest being the most fragile.

Sophia also holds a very strong belief that bullying is not merely among young people nor within homogenous communities. Living in Florissant, a community bordering Ferguson, – where the killing of Mike Brown occurred and racial riots ensued – along with having a father who is the Captain of the Florissant Fire Department and, thus, was heavily involved with alleviating fires caused by the Ferguson race riots, Sophia is continuously reminded of the tension in and nearby her community.

However, unlike a lot of people who have felt helpless or who take in the negativity of the Ferguson riots and aftermath, Sophia decided she was going to take a different approach.

Dad teaching Sophia about Firefighting

Dad teaching Sophia about Firefighting

Inspired by Ferguson and her strong beliefs about bullying – and extending that to racial aggression and tension, Sophia came up with a concept called “COLORBLIND™”. This concept ended up serving as the branded logo on t-shirts that she created. Asking Sophia how she came up with the concept of COLORBLIND™ and its significance to her, she responded: “I don’t see color, I don’t see race, and I’m a firm believer that others shouldn’t either. If you’re fat, skinny, tall, short, etc., none of that matters; and that is what I’m trying to signify in my shirt.”
COLORBLIND™ promotes unity among not just races, but unity among all people – and enough people are listening. The theme has gained national popularity and Sophia’s COLORBLIND™ T-shirts have been shipped to California, Las Vegas, Arizona, and Illinois.

What’s more is that Sophia donates 50% of the T-shirt monies to the Megan Meier Foundation, in memory of Megan Meier, a young teenager who committed suicide after enduring cyber bullying.

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31 Comments - (Leave a comment! »)

  • Brian – Michigan said:

    What really got me was the bullying and Sophia sticking up for special needs students. I only wish I had that much courage when I was young.

    When I was in elementary school and Jr. high, I was bullied relentlessly. As I made it to high school I grew in to my cubby body and started playing sports. Between that and having the coolest and fastest car in school I left the bullying behind. But in no way did I become a bully, in fact I protected a lot of the students that suffered bullying and helped educate my friends, classmates and teammates on why it was wrong to carry on with that type of activity.

    I applaud Sophia’s efforts and hope her campaign can really help people become color blind. In the end we are all people just trying to get through the same day, one day at a time.

  • Sandra – Canada said:

    I love the positive outlook of the magazine. In a time when opening any newspaper or tuning into the news on television means learning about homicides, assaults, wars etc., it’s refreshing to read about all the wonderful things that are happening in the world.

    I love the topic of this article and learning about Sophia and what she’s doing with her t-shirts. I thought the article was a little bit all over the place and disorganized. It jumped from topic to topic without thorough explanation. I felt like some details should have been left out or explained further, such as her experience of the Ferguson riots or her place in her family. The beginning of the article talks about her standing up for special needs kids at her school. Although I can see the relevance of this point (her good heart and how she cares about other people), I don’t think it was necessary for this particular article. Overall, I found the article interesting; it made me want to learn more about Sophia and her t-shirts.

  • Megan - Oklahoma said:

    I really enjoyed reading this. I have extended family that live in Kinloch, Missouri. I was visiting that area when the rioting broke out. My family had to drive through there and the scene was pretty intense. Almost every shop had boards on them. Almost every shop had graffiti on them. The local gas station was burned down. It was a really sad experience and it makes me joyful to see Sophia speaking out against it. I believe she will be able to make a difference by simply trusting her moral compass. Thanks for changing the world one article at a time.

  • Ben - Oklahoma said:

    Sophia is undoubtedly courageous in sticking up for the handicapped and special needs children. I actually read all the articles and find most if not all inspiring to a degree. I would like to point out that there seems to be somewhat of a left wing slant to the majority of all the publications and while that is fine…it will limit your audience.

  • April - Alabama said:

    On a daily basis, I witness a variety of mental and physical struggles the youth of today deal with. It is hard for teenagers to purposely put their reputations on the line in order provide comfort for another. Sophia’s act of kindness will forever be embedded in the mind of the student she took a stand for. Acts of kindness have a domino effect. It just takes one brave person to be the risk taker. The article was well written in that it helped me to make a connection.

  • April – Alabama said:

    Sophia did what many students do not have in them to do. She risked her own image and reputation in order to comfort a student who was the victim of bullying. One simple act of kindness is all it takes for others to follow in Sophia’s footsteps. May Sophia’s simple act of kindness create a domino effect in our society!

  • Kelly – Ohio said:

    I particularly enjoyed this article on 13 year old Sophia helping others to overcome racism. I think racism is a common theme & unfortunately still relevant in today’s society. It’s great to spotlight the youth that are standing up for change in the community & hopefully showing others the path we should be taking. Often times it’s a story on the bullies themselves or the juveniles, who are in the wrong, & it’s refreshing to see the right young people stepping in to better their surroundings. And hopefully better our future.

  • Juan – Canada said:

    What struck me most about this article was essentially the subject matter. It is easy enough to go to Chapters and read self-help books about incredible individuals who changed the world through loving kindness like Ghandi and Mother Theresa, but the problem is that the acts are of such a fantastical scale, that they do not invoke feelings of being able to follow in their footsteps. By featuring young people doing their best to change the world in the smallest ways, others in similar situations can easily feel inspired to perform small acts of kindness.

  • Amber - Ohio said:

    I love stories about teens and children standing up for what they believe in; especially if it’s for a good cause. It’s great that Sophia is opening up the discussion about racism and bullying, and it’s really brave that she’s doing it in front of all of her peers.

  • Suzi - England said:

    I enjoyed reading this, and felt that it gave a good overview of how just one young person can make a difference in even the biggest and most complex of issues. However, I felt that it was a little confusing to read as the headline states “How 13 Year Old Sophia Succeeds In Fighting Racism’ yet the article doesn’t mention racism until half way through. It was also be great to hear more about what the COLORBLIND campaign is actually doing to fight racism, as it does seem a little vague.

  • Maggie Plummer said:

    Sophia is truly a breath of fresh air. All too often these days we are bombarded with stories of violence, racism, intolerance, and the darker side of life. Sophia has provided the world with an eye opening concept how it only takes one person to stand up and take notice of things that are in dire need of the world’s attention.

    Sophia’s courage and insight of the problem of not only bullying, but racism as well, is amazing from a young lady her age. The world needs more people, regardless of their age, like Sophia who are not afraid to speak up, stand up, and take action against the illnesses of the world.

    Sophia should be very proud of herself. I am quite sure her family and friends are as well. Keep up the great work Sophia, the world needs more people like you, thank you.

  • Karen – Minnesota said:

    I enjoyed the article. Sophia appears to be a very sensitive young girl, and I appreciate her values. I am always thrilled when anyone can come up with a new way to open the world’s eyes to racism or bullying.

    I do have a couple concerns with the article. One concern is that, after reading the headline highlighting a girl fighting racism, the article immediately discusses Sophia’s attempts to combat bullying of special needs kids. I almost wondered if I was reading the right article. We did eventually learn that her fighting of racism came after the fight against bullying, in which she was recognized by her principal – it just took a while to get there.

    I also wondered if more could have been included about Sophia’s marketing of the T-shirt and how she is going to get this message across to folks other than her immediate family and friends. I love the concept of “colorblind,” and the cute T-shirt, but it is one thing to design a T-shirt, and another to market it to the world. We are told that she has orders from all over the country, so she is apparently doing some marketing, but we are not informed as to her methods. Maybe it is just word of mouth, or the idea that once someone sees the T-shirt, they will order one themselves. If so, that is certainly a type of marketing, but will it really get the message across to enough people? I don’t mean to be down on a 13-year old’s marketing methods, I just want to know a bit more about how far she is going with her idea.

    I was also a little put off by the psychological analysis about birth order in the family and how it affects protectiveness, with youngest children being assumed to be fragile. I am not sure where the writer got this idea. I agree that it is often the oldest that would tend to be protective towards his or her siblings. But what I have read about birth order in families is that the youngest is usually the most demanding. This online article from howstuffworks.com seems to back up that impression: http://health.howstuffworks.com/mental-health/human-nature/behavior/birth-order-affect-personality.htm. I also have a question about the birth order information. How does it add to the story? My feeling is that it doesn’t.

    The information about her father being the captain of the Florissant Fire Department, however, is relevant to the article, and gives me more information about where she may get some of her ideas and outlook on life.

    Although I have mentioned a few concerns, I did enjoy the article, as I stated above. It is always wonderful to see someone come up with a new idea that might help in the fight against racism. I applaud Sophia for her stance and for her courage. I am inspired by her strength. In short, the subject of the article was inspirational, even if there were a few things I might have changed in the story.

    I think your idea of writing about positive, inspiring people is a good one.

  • Derek – England said:

    An inspiring story that ought to give everyone hope for the future. Imagine what this visionary young lady might be able to achieve as she becomes older and is able to increase her sphere of influence. We need more stories like this in the media.

  • Anthony – Colorado said:

    Highlighting the area Sophia lives in (right next to Ferguson, Missouri) so anyone reading the article will have a point of reference was the strongest point in this article.

  • Khale - Texas said:

    I found this article to be uplifting. To see that this generation isn’t just all about technology and caught up in themselves. It’s refreshing to see that there are young people who try and make a difference.

  • Tara - Connecticut said:

    I was inspired by the story of Sophia, the 13-year-old trying to engage people in conversations about bullying.

  • Katherine - Connecticut said:

    By providing spaces such as these, your publication encourages readers to consider the ways which they interact within their own communities and to realize that a little care can make a big difference. You give voice to “regular people” and give authority to even 13-year-old girls who try to (and do!) make a difference in the lives of the people around them.

  • Barbara Burroughs said:

    Go Shophia!! Were can I purchase a T-shirt?

  • Fecundo – Argentina said:

    Although the main concept of “colorblindness” could be argued and some people would call it patronizing, I found Sophia´s story quite interesting and inspiring. I believe words have the power needed to change the world. Here in Argentina, people is growing more and more selfish. What if we could do something against selfishness?

  • Christina -- New Hampshire said:

    I enjoyed reading about Sophia, and her strength and love to fight against bullying, along with racism.

  • Khale – Texas said:

    I found this article to be uplifting. To see that this generation isn’t just all about technology and caught up in themselves. It’s refreshing to see that thee are young people who try and make a difference.

  • Tracy – Arizona said:

    What an amazing young woman Sophia is! She sets an example that many others, young and old alike, should follow! As a disabled woman who was bullied throughout my school years, and occasionally even harassed as an adult in the workplace, her compassion and mission to stop bullying is especially inspiring. Thank you Sophia!

  • Joshua – Idaho said:

    I loved Sophia’s mission and dedication to helping the disabled. Her caring resonated with me personally. I have one blind eye and was harassed and bullied as a child. The promotion of her cause was also very tasteful. I do not like stories that grate over attaining money for causes without investigating the people behind them, and this writer explored Sophia’s motivation very well. Also, I thought the pace of the article was good. Not too long or short. The writer did great at building up a back story, then talking about her cause, and also relating the cause to a recent event.

    The message at the end stating that Sophia donates half her monies is a great end to the story.

  • Connor - Iowa said:

    I picked your publication in particular because it can get tiring to focus on all the negativity and sensationalism in the media and Winners Within Us seems to be working in the opposite direction. This article about Sophia from St. Louis very much focused on one person’s goals and how she was able to achieve them. In a lot of ways a smaller story can tell more than a story that covers a less personal viewpoint. In every community there are outstanding individuals who do not get recognized. Thanks again for stories like this.

  • Josh – Iowa said:

    What a powerful cause. My hat goes off to this incredible young woman!

  • Estelle said:

    Great story and a beautiful young lady.

  • Nancy said:

    This is exactly what we need to start seeing more of! People saying no to the status quo and not accepting things just because. This little girl is wise beyond her years and will hopefully continue to take her good work in to the world throughout her adulthood. Good job Sophia!

  • Michael said:

    Hats off to Sophia..To do something like this at such a tender age, needs great guts. Dawn you are a proud mother

  • Dawn - USA said:

    This so awesome!! What a beautiful story and I love the tshirt..I will be in touch to purchase!! May God continue to bless Sophia with the desires of her heart. Additionally, she must have some awesome parents that has molded her to become so spectacular and not just ordinary. you family is truly blessed

  • David - England said:

    Great story, This young ladies family ,friends and those that are being subjected to hatred and bullying,must be so proud of her.Hopefully,all around the world ,this story has a profound affect on society.Well Written by Lesley Yvonne Hunter.

  • Dawn Carroll said:

    What an amazing kid I have and can’t say it enough of how proud I am!!

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