by Jonathan Fikru
In honor of Women’s History Month, we will present essays throughout the month by local authors documenting, honoring and celebrating powerful women who inspire us in South Seattle and beyond.
The first time I met Hodan Hassan, she gifted me a mango. I was just starting work at Got Green, and I remember feeling nervous and awkward. But when she handed me that fruit, I thought, “Wow! What a welcoming person.”
Six months have passed since I first met, Hassan, and now I realize that greeting was so much more than just a welcome.
You know how Princess Shuri from Black Panther is everyone’s favorite character? Folks like her because she is funny, versatile, and truly herself no matter the circumstance. She reminds me of Hassan in many ways. Like Shuri, Hassan wears many hats, and whatever she is doing, one thing is clear: Hassan’s blackness is always centered. Whether it is in her community work, her love for cinema, or her engaging social media, Hassan is unapologetically who she is. In a world that fights against this mentality, it is important to celebrate a radical counter-cultural Black revolutionary like Hassan.
A local Southsider from the Rainier Valley, Hassan is invested in advocating for her community. As the climate justice organizer with Got Green, she makes sure communities of color are resilient in the face of environmental injustices that have a disproportionate impact on people of color. As a social justice organizer, her focus remains on the place she comes from and on helping everyone feel and be rooted in the place they call home.
Her team’s current campaign #Don’t Displace Dove—a fight against the displacement of a Beacon Hill elder in the community—is in full swing and determined to resist to the end.
When she is not busy in community work, she is an aspiring actor who absolutely grips your attention. She has performed and done work with the Intiman Theater, a program that “wrestles with American inequities.”
Hassan’s passion for acting also stems from her love of TV shows. Hassan has created a media presence known as “Fearlessly Black,” where she shares her takes on shows and connects the art with her identities.
Check out her latest blog, where she reviews Marvel’s series, “The Punisher”. Without a doubt, I know Hassan’s content will have a critical race lens, and for me that is something to appreciate because I always search for that perspective in the content I consume.
Her gift of storytelling is what I see as her greatest power. Hassan speaks from her experience in a way that is both unique and relatable. She conveys a natural authenticity and always finds a way to sprinkle in some humor. Do yourself a favor and attend a panel or speaking engagement featuring Hassan. Across these venues, Hassan’s voice resonates as she tells the stories we do not get enough of, as she shares the views of her intersecting identities as a Black Muslim woman.
Recently Hassan has taken to social media to celebrate Black women. On Facebook, she posts pictures and dedicates the posts to Black women in her life who have shaped and inspired her. Folks who have made the list include Karen Toering, Davida Ingraham, and Patrice Cullors. Seeing all these touchstones has allowed me to learn about the “Sheroes.” in Hassan’s life and helped me appreciate Black women I knew little about. Now I have even more gratitude for the Black women who have been fighting the good fight for Black liberation for a long time.
Her Twitter handle says it all: Fearlessly Black. Hassan is just that. In a society where the mainstream narrative pushes against loving blackness—the Hodan Hassan effect of being fearlessly Black is the energy I’m on this month. As a friend, coworker, and a fan, I can attest that Hassan is an incredible Black woman who pushes me to be my true self. Hodan Forever *Wakanda greeting.
Featured image by Naomi Ishisaka