Originally published at b-listed for Breakthrough, an international human rights organization.
[Breakthrough’s I AM THIS LAND contest, now calling on people to make a video on diversity to celebrate our differences and win prizes, also wants to share the important work our partners are doing to uplift diversity. Read our interview with Julie Zeilinger, founder of The FBomb.org, a blog/community created for teenage girls who care about their rights as women and want to be heard. Julie is also a judge for the I AM THIS LAND contest.]
b-listed: What has your experience as a young feminist been with issues of diversity in America?
Julie: Through submissions I’ve posted on the FBomb, I’ve had the opportunity to hear from teen girls (and guys!) from all across the country. While each submission has been unique, there seems to be a common thread: while there is still a lot of ignorance in our country about diversity and its importance, this ignorance isn’t an unsolvable problem. Education and raising awareness goes a long way. This is something I have found in my own life, as well. A big reason why people may discriminate against others or make disparaging jokes is often because they just don’t understand what they’re doing. When you really try to explain to somebody what diversity is and why it’s important – rather than just writing that person off as a lost cause or the “bad guy” – you can make a big impact.
b-listed: We spoke with you last in April 2010. Have there been any specific changes at F-Bomb since our last interview?
Julie: Since that interview, the FBomb has begun to receive way more submissions. I only write once or twice a week now and the blog is primarily written by its readers, which I think is fantastic. The readership has also grown considerably. Apart from that, though, I think everything else still stands.
b-listed: Do you think there is enough talk regarding diversity issues and race relations in the US?
Julie: I think that there is always room for more discussion on the topic of diversity, especially considering that it seems when these discussions are brought up, they’re very general and rarely result in real action. Instead of having vague conversations about how our country should be more accepting, individual institutions and groups need to start having these discussions. For example, I would love it if my school – and schools across the country – would start thinking more about diversity, even if it’s just on the level of in history class examining how a certain historical event affected both genders and people of different races and classes.
b-listed: We’ve noticed diverse writers featured on F-bomb. How do different voices contribute to your blog?
Julie: The cool thing about the submissions on the FBomb is that they come completely from the writer’s perspective and is there because of their own initiative and desire to share their opinions. I don’t seek anybody out to write and I don’t edit for content (only for clarity and grammar). Everything that you read on the FBomb is the direct experience of the person who wrote the post. I think this is so important because whereas on other blogs you may get to know one blogger or a handful of bloggers, and their opinions on certain topics, really well, on the FBomb you are able to see a much wider perspective. What you read on the FBomb is really representative of the thoughts of our generation as a whole.
b-listed: You are one of the judges for our I AM THIS LAND contest. What are your thoughts on the concept behind this initiative?
Julie: I love the fact that the I AM THIS LAND contest approaches the issues of diversity through video. It seems to me that the way we talk about diversity has become so streamlined and predictable – I’m glad that this contest has decided to shake that structure up. I think it will make people take notice. I also love that this contest is conceptually focusing on the positive aspects of diversity rather than focusing on how our country is failing. I think it’s always better to frame things positively.
b-listed: Are you going to continue F-bomb when you go to college?
Julie: I’m still not sure what my role in running the FBomb will be when I’m in college, but it will definitely continue to exist just as it does now.
b-listed: What has surprised you most since you started writing F-bomb? Good or bad.
Julie: I always suspected that there were other people my age out there who identified as feminist and yearned for a feminist community where they could share their ideas, but I think I definitely underestimated the size of such an audience. I would’ve been happy if 10 other teens decided to read the FBomb and now thousands have. I think it just shows that feminism is not dead and that there are a lot of teens out there who are passionate about the cause.
b-listed: How would you complete this: I am this land because….
Julie: I am this land because I put my heart into being the change I want to see around me and fundamentally believe that everybody has the right to live freely.
Enter your video on diversity to win at I AM THIS LAND.
Photo Credit: Julie Zeilinger