By Connor Bell

This university hosted a hip-hop dance performer who spoke out against prejudice and hate Thursday.

Through Student Entertainment Events, the university welcomed Amirah Sackett, a Muslim hip-hop dance performer, as she hosted her event “We’re Muslim, Don’t Panic.”

The event was not merely just a performance by Sackett, but a free education session on Islam and Islamic culture for those in attendance.

Sackett  began teaching dance to children across the world so they could better learn how to express themselves, but also to educate about Islamic culture. Her main point was to help people understand why Muslim women wear hijabs and to make a point that wearing it does not make them oppressed, but actually freer than the traditional dress of American women today.

Sackett’s actual dance performance was done to the tune of a combination of a poem mixed with a hip-hop beat. Sackett’s style of dancing was moving her hands in a rapid, almost fluid motion interpretively to the lyrics of the song. This song in particular stressed the ideas that love is not shared by one single belief but by everyone in the world, religious or not.

According to SEE’s program director Yuval Raviv, the event drew in 66 people.  

After the performance, Sackett opened the room to questions on essentially anything about her. The questions ranged from how she got started as a hip-hop dancer to other places she has visited on her teaching tours.

Sackett described the time she went on a trip to Nebraska.

“We were passing this farm and it had a huge Trump sign on it, and I remember being kind of scared because, like anyone, we fear people who don’t understand us, but the students were so cool and they listened and asked really great questions.”

Sackett has been recognized nationally for her dance performances and received significant fame for her creation of “We’re Muslim, Don’t Panic,” including appearances in music videos and winning numerous awards.

Raviv said he knew he had to book Sackett in advance.

“I stumbled upon the AJPlus video of [her] dancing and it was really popular, and that was a big sign,” Raviv said. Raviv mentioned that when he proposed the idea to the SEE board, the vote was unanimous to bring her to College Park.

Before she left, Sackett had one piece of advice for people during these tough times.

“Don’t build walls around yourself, stay open minded, educate yourself, talk to your neighbors, talk to people from different backgrounds and do not keep yourself isolated from others,” Sackett said. “The way to overcome hate is love, and the only way we can love is giving towards people that are different from ourselves.”

Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of teakwood’s Flickr account.

Connor Bell is a junior journalism major and can be reached at cbell56@terpmail.umd.edu.

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