Amirah Sackett is a dancer and practicing Muslim who uses hip-hop to promote religious tolerance.
In a Middle School assembly yesterday, Sackett talked with the students about the significance of the hajib, or head scarf, that she wears in public. It is a sign of modesty, she said, a tradition that exists in other religions as well. She told the students that Muslims in different countries have different customs regarding how religious women dress; some Muslim women also wear a naqib, or veil, which covers the face.
Wearing the hajib is an important expression of her faith, she said. "When I walk down the street, I am representing a lot."
Dressed in traditional Muslim attire, including the hajib and naqib, Sackett performed a dance that she had choreographed entitled "We're Muslim, Don't Panic." Then she brought a sixth grade dance class to the stage to perform a dance that they had rehearsed with her earlier in the day.
In the question-answer period that followed, the students wanted to know whether it is difficult to dance in the traditional clothing, where she buys her clothing, and whether it is hot to wear. She pointed out that men and women cover themselves in desert countries to protect themselves from the sun and sand, so the clothing has functional as well as religious purposes.
Sackett, who is based in Chicago, came to Riverdale as part of the Middle School's Assembly/X-Factor program, which provides a forum for personal expression and encourages tolerance and inclusivity.