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.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@bothell-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bothell-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

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

TLG Motion Pictures CEO Erik Bernard and TLG founder Courtney LeMarco on a set. Photo courtesy TLG Motion Pictures.
Local production company seeking film, TV pitches from young minority creatives

The Big Pitch competition, put on by TLG Motion Pictures (“Hoarders”), started about six months ago.

Local musicians hold virtual benefit concert for mental health

The stream-a-thon supports NAMI Eastside and nonprofit Hold Your Crown

Medic One Foundation’s Gratitude Meals offer support to first responders, local businesses

The initiative provides hearty lunches to first responders staffing the COVID-19 testing sites as they work to test their colleagues.

UW students create Spira app to gather COVID-19 data

The app was created to screen for respiratory diseases but the teen creators shifted their focus once the COVID-19 outbreak began.

Showing their appreciation for EvergreenHealth workers

First responders from Kirkland, Bothell and Woodinville stopped by the Kirkland medical center to show their support for their colleagues.

‘Don’t assume it can’t happen to you’

Federal Way resident Evelyn Allcorn shares story of her husband’s battle with COVID-19 after he tested positive on March 28.

Bothell band dedicates new single to noted sound engineer

Colossal Boss’ “Fool” was recorded by Tom Pfaeffle shortly before he was fatally shot in 2009.

Savannah Lynn and Will Chadek in the Second Story Repertory of Redmond’s production of “The Fantasticks.” “The Fantasticks” had been performed three times by the organization until coronavirus concerns resulted in the cancellation of the remaining dates. Photo by Michael Brunk
How is the coronavirus affecting the arts?

Representatives from Eastside arts institutions discuss their experiences.

Northshore Senior Center responds to COVID-19

Facilities will be closed but emergency services are still available.

Family Jewels Foundation founder Nancy Balin. Blake Peterson/staff photo
Family Jewels’ 5K returns to Saint Edward in Kenmore

The foundation formed in 2017, but the 5K has been going on for about a decade.

Photo by Rolf Skrinde
                                From left, As If Theatre’s Molly Hall, Amy Gentry and Cindy Giese French.
‘The Cake’ making its Washington debut in Kenmore

The play is kicking off As If Theatre’s second-ever season.

Photo courtesy of TAD Management
                                ABBAFab has been doing shows for a decade.
ABBA tribute band to dance, jive, have the time of its life in Bothell

ABBAFab formed in 2010 and has been playing shows internationally ever since.