Ina Bhoopalam grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, surrounded by people who didn’t look like her, which forced her early on in her life to find ways to communicate across differences. When she encountered bullying in high school, Ina transcended the standard “he said/she said” trap that bullying can so often engender and decided to address the root of the problem by helping others who were being bullied; for her, solving the problem was a coping mechanism and a way to heal her inner Little Ina (20:15 to 23:08).
Ina created DREAM Equal, which is now a non-profit aimed at empowering “all people to realize their full potential regardless of gender;” at first, it was created solely to help young girls from the age of 6 and then evolved to incorporate a more inclusive and intersectional view of gender equality (30:05 to 34:15). Annmarie and Ina agree that the root of our separation is the gender stereotypes that are ingrained in our culture through everything that we see and do (36:15-39:18).
When asked to give advice to those who are bullied, Ina says her advice is actually for both the bullied and the bullied: “Think about what you’re feeling. Think about why you’re feeling it. And then think about the other people who are probably feeling the same way as you. Figure out why they’re also feeling the same way as you. And then start changing the “why” and fix the problem (39:25-40:00).”