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Kara Vernor, Age 12

A recipient of scholarships from the Elizabeth George Foundation and Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference, Kara Vernor is the author of the fiction chapbook Because I Wanted to Write You a Pop Song, now available from Split Lip Press. She wrote this speech for her sixth grade graduation.

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— Kara Vernor, Age 12

Kara Vernor

“In looking through what I have of my childhood writing/art, the only throughline I found was feminism. I gave this speech at my six grade graduation (the photo was taken after the ceremony), and though I now cringe at my white feminist comparison of sexism to slavery, I appreciate the speech as a stake in the ground of my survival. After I delivered it, as the crowd began mingling, I found my parents, and my dad, who is no longer in my life, put his hand on my shoulder, said to my twelve-year-old face, You have no idea what you’re talking about. When I rediscovered the speech, my mom, who was divorced from my dad even then, told me she had intervened in the last line in order to ‘tone it down.’ I don’t remember the original ending, but I’d like to think it went something like: In conclusion, the time has come for men to get their shit together, and I mean STAT.”