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Palestinian student organizes local resistance

Jamilla Hashem leads protest in support of Palestine at the Arcata Plaza on Oct. 21.| Photo by Noelle Doblado

Cal Poly Humboldt senior and social work major Jamilla Hashem is working to educate others about the conflicts occurring in Palestine.

“I’m very exhausted, but I’m energized by injustice,” Hashem said.

Across the world people are showing their solidarity with Palestine in the midst of the ongoing conflict occurring in Gaza. Jamilla Hashem has brought a piece of that solidarity to Humboldt county with her organization of protests and vigils at the Arcata Plaza, Cal Poly Humboldt.

Campus, Arcata City Council and Humboldt County Superior Courthouse.

“With more of the organizing I have been doing in the wider community, seeing the community show up in a way that I didn’t anticipate has been really amazing,” said Hashem. “I have made so many new contacts and friends and alliances with other organizations on campus and in the community.”

Hashem’s experience of adversity growing up challenged her to reclaim her narrative as a Palestinian woman. With that came the chance to not only understand her heritage, but offer a perspective that was missing.

“How I got into social work and activism really came from my own lived experience,” Hashem said. “Experiencing a lot of adversity and discrimination throughout my life really impacted me. Those experiences are what formed my ideas and understanding of the world and how I wanted to show up for others who are just as impacted by all those things as well.”

With her heritage linking back to Gaza, the ability to advocate and educate others about the devastating turmoil of the continuous conflict felt like a responsibility
and necessity for Hashem.

People gather at a local protest in support of Palestine at the Arcata Plaza on Oct. 21. | Photo taken by Noelle Doblado.

“I will always be faced with my own trials, but being in a place where I do have privileges and a voice that others may not have, I feel I have a responsibility to use that and show up to be a good community member locally in the school, in our wider community and internationally,” Hashem said.

Sarah Wellington, a close family friend since 2019, stood in solidarity with Hashem, working together to reach audiences around Humboldt County.

“I think that its important for everyone to participate in some fashion and take action to speak out against things and the genocide of the Palestinan people. I think everyone has the responsibility to play some role,” Wellington said.

For Wellington, her friendship with Hashem through advocacy in the community deepened their bond as they overcame the silence together.

“I feel very lucky that Jamilla and I are friends because I felt the need to speak publicly and not be silent about what was happening. I feel very thankful I am friends with someone that I could not stay silent with,” Wellington said.

Jamilla Hashem leads a protest in support of Palestine at the Arcata Plaza on Oct. 21.| Photo by Noelle Doblado

Hashem explained that connecting her culture to a broader audience was an entry point for establishing an insightful and personal conversation in the community. Beyond her protest organization, Hashem brought her knowledge to Cal Poly Humboldt’s 25 annual Campus and Community Dialogue on Race event. In a fully packed lecture hall, Hashem proudly presented Palestinian embroidery as a resistance art form and the beauty of her heritage.

“I got the opportunity to really present on Palestinian history and heritage and how this art form has evolved to tell stories through history,” Hashem said. “This work is so critical because it shows that we are not alone and we are here in solidarity with each other with our voices and work. A lot of the times when we don’t have community is where we suffer the most.”

Hashem found comfort within the community as she engaged more with outreach events that offered a platform to share her passion, igniting a timeless bond with the people that surrounded her, while giving a voice to the Palestinian conflict.

“I hope to not only provide more education where it may be lacking but I hope to bring more beauty into the world,” Hashem said. “A lot of the activist work I do is really hard and it’s around really hard subjects that may be difficult to talk about so it is important to me to bring more humanity into my work by fostering more relationships with others.”

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