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Well, for one thing, it's the coolest high school newspaper in all the land. Watch our video and find out more.
Just about everyone knows someone who has been bullied, in ways big and small. Understandably, though, many victims are reluctant to speak about their experiences. We found some who aren't.
The threat of nasty weather canceled last weekend’s Erase Hate Festival, the event to kick off Erase Hate Tampa Bay, a nonprofit aimed at educating students on matters of tolerance — bullying, racism, gangs, homophobia — through after-school programs and other activities. Headlining the event was to have been Seattle singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile, who spoke with our tbt* colleague Jay Cridlin ahead of time about bullying and the teens she makes a point of speaking with.
Do you hear from a lot of kids who are struggling with things like bullying, or with coming out of the closet, or who are in some way conflicted about their identity?
Oh, all the time. No matter how big the shows get, I meet people, particularly kids. I’ll send the tour manager out behind the bus and say, “If you see any teenagers, grab them and pull them to the bus, and I’ll go say hi.” Because I want to hear about what’s going on in their high school. It’s important to me.
What’s the thread that you hear most often?
The stories are more encouraging than not. The stories of acceptance and tolerance and reform and love are more than the stories of oppression, which is exciting. I want to get involved in furthering that, to where we get to a point where everyone feels safe and comfortable.
What did you face when you were in high school? Did you get picked on?
I didn’t get bullied any more than anybody else. I think I got bullied more for being poor than being gay. But no more than any other kid. And I’m sure that I did my fair share of picking on other kids, too. We’re all humans. We definitely try out our gumption during that age. But some special sensitivity needs to get paid to a few of these issues, particularly issues that veer into the avenue of hate crimes, which is a reason why I think this festival is important in this year.
Have you been following the Trayvon Martin case?
Loosely, on talk radio and stuff. It’s obviously such a huge tragedy, and the fact that it happened has made such an impact not just on this country, but the world. I hope that it doesn’t get in its own way. The press, the media, the attention, the opinions — that should never become more important than the people that lost their son.
To learn more about Erase Hate Tampa Bay, visit erasehatetampabay.org.