University of Washington Bothell students collaborate on a video project for their “Arts in Context: Contemporary Muslim Artists” course. IVAN CHUNG / Contributed photo

UW Bothell student video on Islamophobia goes viral

  • Wednesday, December 21, 2016 11:39am
  • Life

A University of Washington Bothell class that produced a video as a final project and a statement against Islamophobia saw it go viral on Facebook. “Shoulder to Shoulder” was posted Dec. 14 on the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences (IAS) Facebook page, and by Dec. 16, it had more than 100,000 views.

It was recorded Dec. 8 on the campus’ plaza in the mannequin challenge style, where people remain frozen in action and the camera moves through them. The video can be found on YouTube at youtube.com/watch?v=/HM_3HsmuE.

Scenes of Muslims being hit with a bottle, kicked or splashed with coffee are accompanied by audio from newscasts from 9/11 and hate crimes. Other scenes show a Trump political rally, and the video closes with a group of Muslims praying “shoulder to shoulder” as they are surrounded by a protective circle of UW Bothell and Cascadia College students, faculty and staff.

The video uses all 43 students in “Arts in Context: Contemporary Muslim Artists,” a course taught by Anida Yoeu Ali, an artist-in-residence who started this fall as affiliate faculty in American and ethnic studies in the School of IAS.

About a third of the students in the class are visibly Muslim, Ali says. For many of the non-Muslim students, it was the first time they had engaged with Muslims.

The class looked at the works of Muslim artists and ways in which the identity has been distorted through such ideas as orientalism – the lens through which the West views the East. Ali grades on creative risk-taking, originality and effort.

“This class is about stepping outside your comfort zone,” she said.

Ali said she had a sense the class was special and challenged them with a final GGP – giant, group project. Everybody committed. They chose the mannequin challenge, the issue of Islamophobia and organized themselves into a production company: audio/video, props, costume and marketing. They pulled it all off in about two weeks.

“I am just so moved by their hard work, commitment and the unity of the class. The students did a stellar job,” Ali said. “I am moved to almost tears.”

Three students had major parts in the project: Evan White, videographer and editor, and core leaders Doha Ashmawi, a Muslim, and Derek Burkett, an Army veteran.

White, who transferred from Texas A&M University and graduates next spring in media and communications studies, said he thought he had signed up for an art history class where a professor would show slides and lecture. As a Christian, he said he had no idea what to expect. It really opened his eyes, he said.

“Honestly, it was my favorite experience at UW Bothell so far,” White said. “It was totally different and exceeded my expectations.”

After students decided on the project, he said, “We were looking at each other like ‘Oh my goodness, are we going to do this?’”

White said a class of racially and culturally diverse students unified and came together through making the video.

“We thought we made something really cool,” he said. “For me personally, it was an awesome experience.”

Ashmawi is a Running Start junior from Bellevue College who plans to major in law, economics and public policy and expects to graduate in 2018. She said the class meant a great deal to her personally.

A turning point was the presidential election that brought feelings of fear, anxiety and nationwide hate incidents. The class, regardless of political affiliation, race or religion, felt the need to stand “shoulder to shoulder and stand up against hate,” she said.

In the video, Ashmawi is holding a sign that says, “I’m scared,” although she personally hasn’t experienced any hateful incidents on campus. To the contrary, she bonded with her classmates.

“It was great to feel part of the community the class had through the quarter,” she said. “I felt very empowered, which was very ironic, because I was holding the sign saying ‘I’m scared.’”

Burkett also didn’t know what to expect from the course, but it turned out to be “my favorite college course I have taken to date.” A transfer student from American Military University, Burkett is declaring an accounting major and plans to graduate in 2019. In the opening scene, he’s holding a newspaper.

In his almost five years as an explosive ordnance disposal technician, Burkett did his share of time overseas.

“Given the nature of my position, it is fair to say that I had developed a negative feeling towards people of Middle-Eastern descent. This course greatly helped to alleviate those feelings to some extent,” Burkett said. “As simple as it may be, this shows how strong we can be as a campus in fighting the flood of hatred that has been lingering in our nation for decades.”

The class (BISCLA 383) is offered again this winter quarter at UW Bothell.

This is taken from a University of Washington Bothell news release written by Douglas Esser.

University of Washington Bothell students collaborate on a video project for their “Arts in Context: Contemporary Muslim Artists” course. IVAN CHUNG / Contributed photo

University of Washington Bothell students collaborate on a video project for their “Arts in Context: Contemporary Muslim Artists” course. IVAN CHUNG / Contributed photo

University of Washington Bothell students collaborate on a video project for their “Arts in Context: Contemporary Muslim Artists” course. IVAN CHUNG / Contributed photo

More in Life

‘American Pickers’ puts out call for antique finds

The History Channel show is coming to Washington and seeking finds throughout the state, including the Eastside.

Romero to speak at next Pub Talk at McMenamins

He will speak about how arsenic was used historically as a common pesticide, spreading poison across the United States.

Inglemoor’s Vuu serves as page in State House

Pages’ responsibilities range from presenting the flags to distributing amendments on the House floor.

Wastemobile begins household hazardous waste collection season in Bothell, Feb. 22-24

Visit Wastemobile website for details about acceptable materials and amounts, plus upcoming collection events and convenient, permanent disposal sites

Townsend to speak on turning forests into biofuel at Northshore Senior Center

This event is set for Feb. 28 and is free and open to all.

From left, Clara Ling (franchise owner) and Daisy Quitugua (center director) at the soft opening of Code Ninjas on Feb. 1. Madison Miller/staff photo
Bothell resident opens coding center in Newcastle

This is the first Code Ninjas center in Washington.

Cotton to speak at next Pub Night Talks event at McMenamins

He will discuss Frederick Law Olmsted’s legacy of including green spaces in urban planning.

Bothell offers insight on rainy season streams and gardening

Locals can learn how to prepare their garden for spring and offer input on future workshops.

IHS junior Sam Trott and sophomore Daisy Held play Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in IHS’s upcoming production of “Pride and Prejudice.” Madison Miller/staff photo.
Inglemoor takes on Jane Austen

The school’s first show of the new year will be the author’s “Pride and Prejudice.”

United Way offering free tax help on UW Bothell, Cascadia campus

The service will be available twice a week through April 16.

Adman to speak at Northshore Senior Center on local water systems

The president of the Sno-King Watershed Council will speak on how they are monitoring the area’s water systems.