Armed with a sign that read ‘I trust you, do you trust me? Lets hug’, a blindfold and open arms, Jasirah Bin Hitlam set out to challenge how Indigenous people are perceived in mainstream Australian society.
Through a blind social experiment, the University of Western Australia student invited thousands of Cottesloe beach-goers to share a hug with her.
Stationed at Perth’s most popular seaside location, the 17 year-old sent a powerful and emotional message about reconciliation.
At first most in the crowd were confused to see the young woman standing there in the middle of the beach, arms outstretched. For a brief moment viewers hold their breath as people walk passed, wondering, hoping, that someone will stop and acknowledge her request.
Thankfully, it works!
One woman begins to enthusiastically walk toward the girl repeating” I trust you, I trust you, I trust you” before embracing her.
Throughout the three minute video various people, of all ages, shapes and sizes, approach the young woman, many commending her on her bravery and thanking her for the opportunity.
Towards the end the crowd is so enthused that big group hugs ensue and the moving images restore the viewers faith in society and humanity.
But the video ends on a sobering note, a black screen with this text: “In 2012, 13% of all Australian’s said they trusted Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders”
Perth artist Peter Sharpe, created the video along with Indigenous youth charity ICEA.
They hoped that the experiment would prompt real discussion over how Indigenous Australians are perceived within the wider community.
So powerful and moving the short film is gaining traction online and Jasirah hopes the video will go viral and inspire people to talk about the importance of reconciliation.
“I was so nervous and the first 5 minutes of standing there went forever, the whole thing was really emotional,” she told reporters.
“There needs to be change, trust and people need to stop judging,” the marine science student added.
She thanked ICEA for her many successes and passion for indigenous affairs, which she says she owes to her involvement with the Western Australian charity.
“They’ve supported me in getting into uni, while being able to keep a connection to my country, family and togetherness.”
Watch the video here, but we warn you to have tissues in hand as it is quite moving!