Social Justice & Salsa  

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Kyle Dyer | @kyle_dyer

Above the non-stop sound of children munching on chips in a Denver kitchen comes a question:

“One of my least favorite phrases is ‘she’s a tomboy.’ Why can’t you just be a girl who likes sports?’”

That’s Sophie Davidson, a seventh grader spearheading a monthly meeting of 9 to 13-year-olds who brainstorm ways to confront stereotypes and address social issues.   

Sophie named the group the Junior White Roses, in recognition of the White Rose non-violent resistance group in Nazi Germany. Sophie’s inspiration is Sophie Scholl, a German student who was executed for writing and distributing Anti-Nazi leaflets in 1943. Check out The Broadview Denver’s recent highlight on Scholl.

Sophie Scholl was outspoken. So is Sophie Davidson--in a smart, reflective, and positive way.  She is ready to make an impact now.

“Whenever someone says something pretty sexist, or something racist or something rude against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people, it really grabs my attention because that is not the world we really want to live in,” Davidson said. “I really want to change all that.”

Davidson, with help from her mom Melanie Davidson, has booked speakers to come to her home over the next several months. Davidson hopes to grow the size of her group but also realizes talking about social issues is not on the forefront of most kids’ minds.

“Yeah, my friends aren’t as protest-y as me,” Davidson said.

At the most recent meeting of the Junior White Roses, Donna Morton, CEO & Co-founder of Change Finance, discussed ways to support environmental causes. Morton spoke to the children about her career path: working as an activist for Greenpeace, writing policy to support carbon taxes, establishing clean energy communities on Indian reservations, and now promoting socially responsible companies through impact investing.

A constant wave of raised hands punctuated the evening as group members asked Morton about non-violent civil disobedience, acid rain’s effect on animals, and what it is like to work in a male-dominated field.

Morton with members of the Junior White Roses. 

Morton with members of the Junior White Roses. 

“These are exceptional young minds and I’m not surprised,” Morton said.  “That tends to be true for kids who are really engaged in what’s going on around them and beyond them.”

Davidson encouraged all members of the Junior White Roses to talk about what kind of positive change they could make.

“Don’t waste water in the shower,” Davidson started off the discussion. “Don’t let the water run until it’s just the right temperature, jump right in. And I know some kids… I don’t do this.. who pretend to put the shower on so their parents think they’re in the shower but they’re really not. Stop doing that! We can’t be wasteful.”

Davidson spent this past summer in a camp for young entrepreneurs and organized a company she intends to open one day, Higher Women, which will encourage businesses to hire more women. At 12, she is already well aware of gender discrimination, even noticing it in the video games she plays with her younger brother.

“Even in Madden NFL, I noticed there aren’t any women in the stands,” Davidson said.  “There are no female referees, no female reporters … and I know no women are allowed in the NFL which really makes me upset.”

At next month’s meeting, the Junior White Roses will address racial and gender inequality by making protest posters. Sophie plans to ask her mom and her friends to share pictures of the posters on their social media pages.

“We work for Sophie,” Melanie Davidson laughs.  Just as Melanie is about to refill the bowl of chips and wipe up some spilled salsa, Davidson blurts out: “We want adults to know that they’re also welcome to talk with us. Anytime.”