When Jasirah Bin-Hitam stood on a beach with a sign asking for hugs, she was doing more than asking for friendly interaction. She was testing an important part of what it means to be human.
As part of a social experiment in Australia, Jasirah blindfolded herself and stood with her arms outstretched on a beach. At her feet, the young aboriginal girl had a sign that read, “I trust you. Do you trust me? Let’s hug.”
Though many beach-goers simply stared at her, Jasirah, who just turned 18, stood her ground and continued to keep her arms raised. Finally, a woman came along with the answer to her question.
“I trust you. I trust you. I trust you,” she told Jasirah before hugging her.
Others followed her lead, and soon the teen received individual embraces as well as group hugs from families. Some people even had words of encouragement for her.
“You’re very brave,” one woman said after hugging her.
The project comes from Peter Sharp, who is known for his viral train dance party video from 2014 as well as other blind social experiments. A Muslim man in Canada also conducted a similar experiment in a video from January to highlight the terrorist stereotype he faces. Instead of religion, the video featuring Jasirah takes on the perception of indigenous people.
The end of the video features a statistic from the 2012 Australian Reconciliation Barometer that only 13 percent of all Australians said they trusted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. To better this relationship, Jasirah chose to be blindfolded and put her trust in the people around her. In a test of humanity, they proved they trusted her.
And all it took was one simple embrace.