Deema Hindawi, student activist and coordinator, helped organize the 25th annual Social Justice Summit. | Photo by Freddy Brewster

Break that wall

The 25th annual Social Justice Summit aims to shine light on oppression and problematic narratives

The 25th Annual Social Justice Summit aims to shine light on oppression and problematic narratives

Students Adrienne Bahn and Deema Hindawi want to “break that wall,” which is the title for this year’s Social Justice Summit. The summit starts on Monday, Feb. 25 and will continue throughout the week.

“We were thinking about how the world is so fragile and about the Berlin wall, the Mexican wall, the wall with Palestine and the walls within us and within our societies,” Hindawi said.

Hindawi and Bahn are the coordinators of the summit and have been planning the event since August. The summit will feature a number of speakers and workshops all aimed at bringing awareness to social justice. The keynote speaker this year is Kim Davalos. Davalos will be leading a discussion on Feb. 25 about the book “Alice in Wonderland” and the “intersections of her identity and life,” as well as hosting a workshop titled “Heartwork: love letters and languages.” Bahn attended a previous speech by Davalos and was so moved by it that she decided to invite her to this year’s summit.

“I was inspired and intrigued by her powerful rhetoric,” Bahn said. “It was about embracing our own identity despite the hardships that we have to endure. With every hardship, there is beauty too.”

Adrienne Bahn, student organizer and psychology major, organized the 25th annual Social Justice Summit alongside Deema Hindawi. | Photo by Freddy Brewster

Growing up, Bahn said that she always had the intention to volunteer, but didn’t know what that meant until she got to HSU.

“I became more aware of our political climate, so I decided to actually do something,” Bahn said. “I started to volunteer and joined the Multi-cultural center and the Asian, Desi and Pacific Islander club.”

One of the anticipated events during this year’s summit is “The Other Side of Murder Mountain.” The event will feature a panel discussion about the 2018 Netflix docu-drama that took place primarily in southern Humboldt. The series paints an image of Humboldt county as a place where “vigilante justice and outlaw culture” reign. Deidre Pike, journalism professor at HSU, will be one of the panelists.

“We are here to dismantle all forms of oppression. We can’t end sexism without ending racism as well.”

Adrienne Bahn

“‘The other side of Murder Mountain’ is about telling a different narrative about the series on Netflix,” Pike said. “People have been calling us and asking if it’s real. As storytellers, we have the ability to change the world, and the folks at Netflix have wide reaching opportunities.”

Pike said that the series pushed out a narrative that doesn’t fit reality in Humboldt, especially when it came to missing people. She pointed out that Humboldt county has one of the highest rates for missing people, but a lot of those cases end up being resolved. Pike also felt that the narrative being pushed in the Murder Mountain series is problematic.

“I have been thinking about the narrative and how it almost celebrates violence,” Pike said. “One of the counter narratives is, if you shine a light on Murder Mountain, people realize that the things they do can end up on Netflix. People thought southern Humboldt was this outlaw, backwoods place and now it is not.”

Pike went on to say that Humboldt has a brand when it comes to the marijuana industry and that Humboldt’s future parallels marijuana’s.

“If we want to be the Napa of the marijuana industry, then we need to cultivate that brand,” Pike said. “Murder Mountain contributes to that narrative, but as an ‘edgy Napa.’”

The summit will conclude on Friday, March 1 with Barbara Curiel giving a presentation titled “Border Walls and Borderland Identities.” Bahn said that she was excited for the final presentation and that the main message of the summit is to bring awareness to injustice.

“We are here to dismantle all forms of oppression,” Bahn said. “We can’t end sexism without ending racism as well.”

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