Sakinah Ibrahim, a professionally trained dancer and author of Big Words to Little Me: Advice to the Younger Self, was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for her outstanding literary work. With a focus on exploring the African diaspora and promoting youth empowerment through movement, Ibrahim developed a curriculum called Diaspora Dance that includes Ghanaian, Jazz, and hip-hop dance, which helps black and Latino youth develop a sense of cultural identity. Beyond the dance studio, she’s hosted empowerment workshops for young women in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Orange County, Springfield, and New York City.
Black Enterprise caught up with the young trailblazer to learn more about how she was nominated for an NAACP Award and her best advice for young people on becoming more confident and secure.
Black Enterprise: Tell us about your background.
Ibrahim: I’m a first-generation college graduate. I have my Bachelor of Fine Arts from The University of the Arts and my Master of Fine Arts from the University of California, Irvine in dance. I have a performance background in dance and theater. I have been teaching dance for about 10 years and recently transitioned into program coordination. I really love teaching young people black history through movement.
How did you become nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work- Instructional?
I received an e-mail from NAACP that the book was eligible for submission. I have no idea how they got my contact information. Then, I had to submit the book to the Nomination Committee.
Considering you’re a professionally trained dancer, tell us about the a-ha moment that inspired you to write Big Words to Little Me: Advice to the Younger Self.
During a volunteer assignment, I was speaking with a group of young people about how to work through their obstacles. I kept saying, “I wish someone would have told me this.”
I started reflecting on my own life experiences and trauma and began journaling about what I wish I knew when I was younger that would have served in making me more confident, secure, and happy. I personally carried a lot of pain that wasn’t my own. Then around 5 a.m. one morning I woke up with the title Big Words to Little Me in my mind. I had this vision of offering a guide to girls all over the world. I wanted to expand my ability to mentor beyond the classroom. As I started doing my own healing, the themes for the book became clear. I was learning we all suffer in some of the same ways. My favorite chapters are “Feeling Alone/Me Too and It’s Impossible/ I’m Possible.”
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