Building Cultural Awareness: Makeup Artist Uses Her Hijab to Perfect Her Looks

queen of luna makeup art hijab art

We know Halloween is over! But in the spirit of the festive season, we’re highlighting a professional makeup artist and social media maven who goes by the name Queen of Luna. With over 360,000 followers on Instagram and counting, Sarawati can transform herself into just about any character you can imagine – and she uses her hijab to complete each look. Check out a few of her masterpieces.

Queen of Luna's Esmeralda makeup and hijab art

Why Are We Sharing Cool Makeup Art?

While great strides have been made for women in the workplace, Muslim women are one group still struggling to obtain and maintain visibility in the professional world. As this article in Fast Company astutely puts it, “The paradox of wearing the veil in the U.S. is that there’s nowhere to hide; it takes courage to stand out.” Speaking on creativity, another young woman explains her decision to observe hijab: “By choosing hijab, I display who I am. But I choose to emphasize other aspects of myself that form my identity: my character, intellect, quirky personality, and illusory hopes and dreams — my inner-existence.”

Queen of Luna: Adventure Time Makeup and Hijab ArtNot only does representation matter in our communities, our politics, and our media — it matters in our workplaces. When each of us, no matter our gender, ethnicity, religion, or lifestyle, can see an image and example of ourselves in another person, we are building a world open to the innovation and diverse creativity that is so crucial to long-term organizational success. Queen of Luna’s makeup art is not only impressive, it plays an important role in the way we understand our differences — and the talents, interests, and skills that make our society and our organizations stronger.

Do Your Part

At Dignity & Respect Campaign, we focus on celebrating and building on ALL of our differences. Finding common ground by bringing our talents and mutual interests together, while embracing what makes us unique, not only makes for a better world, but a more creative, collaborative, and successful one. You can find more Queen of Luna makeup art on Facebook, Instagram, and around the Internet. Do your part to build cultural awareness (and awareness of really cool makeup art)!

All images belong to Queen of Luna.

Why Voting Matters

It’s not hard to craft a list of reasons why people in the U.S. would not want to vote. Our country’s political system has a tendency to alienate people with nonpartisan opinions, for instance. Many of us feel frustrated with our government’s processes, and helpless to take action or participate. Some of us become apathetic and feel like it’s easier to not get involved.

Lots of people experience these varying degrees of vexation over whether or not to venture down to the polls. In fact, according to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, there are around 219 million people in the United States who are eligible to vote – but only 57.5% of us voted in the 2012 Presidential election. The younger generation (also known as Millennials) are notorious for being the least likely to participate in elections, primarily because they are frustrated with the way the system operates. In fact, half of these young Americans do not affiliate themselves with a specific party, which is the highest percentage of disaffiliated citizens in history. As for the other age groups who are not voting? Many of them claim to be too busy to head to the polls. An additional 13% stated they were not interested in the candidates or their politics.

Beyond the lengthy – and often valid – reasons not to vote, what about the reasons we should?


Why Vote

So you’ve probably heard of how the Electoral College works, and maybe even cited it as a reason not to vote. Many people feel like this system is unfair and believe their votes won’t matter or count because of it. And for people who only come out to the polls every four years to vote in the huge presidential races then yes, it’s harder to see how voting Democratic in a predominantly Republican state might make a difference (though take note that President Obama was actually able to win the Democratic vote in 2008  for several states that had voted primarily Republican for years).  

But presidential races are not the only important elections we participate in. In fact, the President of the United States – while certainly a very important and powerful figure – doesn’t have as much governmental power as we often believe. If you think back to your Civics or Social Studies classes in schools, you’ll recall that there are three different branches of government designed to help distribute the power and keep one another in check.

With this in mind, think about all of those other elections that happen year-round. There are federal elections, of course, but there are also state and local elections as well.

When it comes to public officials and electing representatives, everything is connected. As a board member of the Missouri NAACP put it: “Who hires the police officers? The police chief. Who hires the police chief? The mayor. Who hires the mayor? Who elects the council folks?”

The answer boils down to the voters. And in certain cases, when a group of people is not being well-represented in government, it’s often because of a lack of voter representation. If you’re not voting for the people who align with your viewpoints and principles, then how will those viewpoints and principles be represented in government? And if you don’t start from the ground up – with local elections or state officials – then how can you expect the various branches of the government to help support whichever presidential candidate you want to vote in come November?


Do Your Part

“Voting matters. When voters don’t turn out to choose their local and state governments, they receive a government that doesn’t represent them.”

Frustration over larger-than-life government processes can be eased by participating in those processes. The more we all do our part and share our voices, the more we start to find other voices who are saying the same things. Do your part this election season and get out to vote. Make yourself heard!

Start by finding your closest polling location so you can take part in the way our country is run. And be sure to follow the Dignity & Respect #IVoteBecause initiative over the coming months – tell us why you vote!


Finding Common Ground: Intersectionality

When you think of identity, what comes to mind? How do you define yourself?

You could identify by your religion, for one. You could identify as either a man or woman (or both, or neither). You could identify by your race. You could identify by sexual preference or nationality or occupation. There are a multitude of ways any one person can label or define themselves, and chances are quite high that you actually affiliate with several of these categories –  that you see yourself as black AND heterosexual AND Christian AND a woman (for instance).

This notion of the “and” is often referred to as intersectionality, which is a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. In the context of critical theory, intersectionality refers to the ways in which multiple institutions are oppressive to a person. Crenshaw used the analogy of traffic in her essay on the subject:   

“Consider an analogy to traffic in an intersection, coming and going in all four directions. Discrimination, like traffic through an intersection, may flow in one direction, and it may flow in another. If an accident happens in an intersection, it can be caused by cars traveling from any number of directions and, sometimes, from all of them. Similarly, if a Black woman is harmed because she is in an intersection, her injury could result from sex discrimination or race discrimination.”

But even though intersectionality can mean there are multiple ways for a person to be oppressed, it can also mean there are multiple ways for a person to relate to someone else. For example, let’s say you are a heterosexual Christian woman meeting a heterosexual Muslim woman for the first time. Though at first glance, it may appear that you have zero commonalities between the two of you (you wear a small gold cross around your neck, she wears a dark hijab across her hair), if the two of you engaged in a conversation, it’s possible that you’d discover you are both around the same age, both married, and both the mother of two children. You might find that you both relate strongly to the experience of being a woman.

This is what the D&R initiative, Finding Common Ground, is all about. Everyone has multiple identities and instead of using them to separate ourselves, we should use them to search for similarities. Plus, knowing that everyone fits into several boxes at any given time makes it harder to judge a person for one particular characteristic.


So take time to think about how you identify – how you see yourself and how you’d like others to see you. Then look for different ways to see others. You might just be surprised.   

ViewPoints: Cultural Awareness, Filters and Civil Discourse

Dignity & Respect represents the evolution of how social issues should be discussed and dealt with in our increasingly socially complex world. Currently, when topics such as gun control, mass incarceration, and immigration are discussed, it is done in an overly emotional and divisive manner. Here at Dignity & Respect, Inc. our mission is to make the world a better place for all to live—with all of our differences. We feel that only by improving our cultural awareness and finding common ground, will we be able to tackle the problems our society faces.

My Personal Experience

My name is Andre Blair, I am 26 years old and was born and raised in California between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. The liberal values of the areas where I spent my formative years, coupled with the inclusive tone set by the Clinton administration, would lead you to believe I have not been affected by racism or bigotry. In some ways this is true; I have never been called a racial slur to my face, (online comment sections are an entirely different conversation) I have never been refused service based on the color of my skin, and have never been asked to sit in the back of a bus. However, I certainly do not feel my life chances have been the same as a white male of similar socio-economic status. As a black male, I am ten times more likely to be arrested, twenty percent more likely to drop out of college, and was twice as likely to become a teenage parent. These statistics represent traps I could have very easily fallen into, and have witnessed many of my peers succumb to. I was only able to avoid them due to a very supportive family structure.

Reasons For The Disparities

What is the reason for these disparities? Are the men and women who decide how our society is organized racist? I do not believe so; the answer is much more subtle. We all come into every interaction with the baggage of all of our previous experiences. Here at Dignity & Respect, we call these filters. For example; a white school administrator, who prior to holding that position had grown up in a middle-class suburb surrounded by only white residents, might enter into any interaction with an African-American or Latino student carrying that baggage. Now imagine this same administrator has also received most of his/her information about minority youth from a mass media that thrives on portraying these demographics as dangerous and untrustworthy. Our fictional administrator is likely going to subconsciously consult these filters when making disciplinary decisions involving minority students. This is a driving factor of the incredible disparities existing between the suspension and expulsion rates of black and white students. Is this evidence of racism? Are these administrators bad people who are actively trying to undermine the success of minority students? I don’t believe so. However, many of them lack a reasonable level of cultural awareness which inhibits them from being able to find common ground with their black and latino students.

Potential Solutions

These subtle issues are the major barriers keeping us from achieving greater harmony in our society. If we enter into interactions with each other while harboring toxic subconscious opinions, we are doomed to end up with negative outcomes. We must work to increase our knowledge of one another; we must break out of our comfort zones and befriend people who do not look or think like us; we must engage those friends and strive to understand their point of view. Only then will we be able to tackle complex issues such as gun control, mass incarceration, and immigration.

Dignity & Respect Champion Gives Voice to the City’s Unheard Stories

Growing up in Chicago, Jonas Chaney found himself bit by the radio bug at the young age of 12. “I heard the announcer, and I thought, ‘I could do that. That’s what I want’,” remembers Jonas. It took him just five years to get there. He started in radio at 17, while still in high school. Soon his passion for communications, bolstered by his Masters in Journalism, branched out to include television. It was there that Jonas hit his stride and it appears his calling as well. As the Public Affairs Director at WPXI he produces two shows, Impact and Talking Pittsburgh, both of which discuss issues of importance in the various diverse communities of Greater Pittsburgh.

“I have a very rewarding job. A lot of the stations in the country do not have a public affairs director. I’m happy to have the Position,” Jonas says. He continues, “I can delve into areas that highlight non-profits and feature stories from people who aren’t always heard from. I can tell people’s stories that otherwise wouldn’t be out there. Sometimes the news department will pick up stories I have on the public affairs shows and do further reporting on them, exposing these people and nonprofits to an even wider audience.”  Impact has featured shows on such varied topics as Muslim faith in Pittsburgh and POISE, an African American foundation focused on building sustainable black communities. Talking Pittsburgh has given voice to Community Options, an employment service for people with disabilities.

Carole Cohen was a coworker of Chaney’s at INROADS/Pittsburgh, a former local affiliate of the organization that trains and develops African-American, Latino, Native Americans and other minorities for corporate careers. She nominated Chaney as a Dignity & Respect Champion. While working at INROADS, Jonas lent his talents as a producer and editor for many projects. Carole says, “He lent his talents for these projects on his personal time. He also connected people to his vast network, helping them to further their causes. He still does that. As an advocate for many, he makes Pittsburgh a better, stronger place for all its residents. He achieves this by dispelling stereotypes, introducing people from diverse communities and showcasing the best the region has to offer.”

When asked how he feels about being recognized as a Dignity & Respect Champion, Jonas says he is “Very happy, I didn’t expect it. I recognize the importance of treating people well. It is the first step in opening people’s eyes to the need to be more inclusive, and that can only make life better for everyone. We should all see what we can do to give help and a voice to those who need it.”

Dignity & Respect Champion Uses His Talents to Bring Communities Together

Long before Pittsburgh started charting high on those desirable cities lists, some visitors were aware of its potential charms. Thirty-five years ago, Richard Parsakian came to Pittsburgh from his native Latham, New York as a Vista Volunteer in its architect’s workshop.  He came to provide architectural services for low income families and nonprofits. “The idea that I could contribute and help, this was very important to me in terms of my volunteerism,” Richard emphasizes. Richard decided to stay, and now he uses his study of architecture to provide event designs for nonprofits.

“I believe in the organizations I do work for. I believe in trying to help those organizations survive. They need funding and I have a talent that can help with that funding. I use the resources I have to help people,” Richard explains.  A former board member of Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force, he still does work for them on a project by project basis. Other organizations that have benefitted from Richard’s  vision include PrideFest, Pittsburgh Dance Council, Persad Center, Pittsburgh Glass Center, Dance Alloy, Attack Theater, Quantum Theater, Planned Parenthood, Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, and the Ellsworth Avenue Street Fair.

Larry Leahy, DDS, a friend who nominated Richard for this award, says, “Richard is truly inspirational and is a tremendous asset to the city. He works endlessly for the betterment of all communities in Pittsburgh. He is tireless in his organization of countless benefits and fundraisers.”

The self-described “center of my universe” is Richard’s vintage fashion store, Eons. He says, “It seems that everything I do emanates from the store. There I meet the people from nonprofit organizations when they stop in for clothes and costumes for an event. It starts with that and I’m glad to supply further help.”

“I am moved to receive the Dignity & Respect Champion award,” Richard says. He continues, “It’s an unexpected honor. It parallels my thinking in how I treat people and how I want to be treated. I like to think of myself as a supportive person for people who don’t have a strong voice. As an openly gay man, I have always been there as a voice for the LGBT community. Now I’m also acknowledged as an advocate for women who need access to healthcare, kids who are coming out, and the arts community.”
Richard believes that treating people with esteem can help bring communities together, regardless how separate their subcultures might seem.  He describes how he saw a manifestation of this at his popular “Divas of Drag” event, “I looked out into a mixed audience and saw performers whose talents had been hidden in bars interacting with a new audience. There was a community of people having a great time in a non-threatening environment, a wonderful atmosphere of performance and acceptance between gay and straight cultures.”

Believing in the Power of Art to Find Common Ground

Dignity & Respect Champion Informs Art with Socially Conscious Themes

Not many people realize their mission in life during their childhood years. The transformative power of art is a concept that Janet McCall grasped early in life. “The power of art enabled me to make sense of the world, deal with stress, process emotion, experience joy, and figure out who I was,” Janet explains. “As I got older I saw that so few of the other kids had that orientation. It became obvious to me that art is a birthright we should all have access to. My goal is to use my communication skills to make more people aware of the importance of this.”

As the Executive Director of the Society for Contemporary Craft, Janet strives to bring her inclusive view of art to people of all walks of life by exhibiting the work of artists from all different backgrounds. She says, “The purpose is to bring together a group of people to respond to the works of art and initiate a dialogue.”  In her time as director, Contemporary Craft has had installations dealing with gender identity and bullying, a Latino exhibition that emphasized art as a shared language, and an Alzheimer’s themed exhibition.  The upcoming exhibition Enough Violence : Artists Speak Out is slated for September.

Sarah Ceuvorst, a co worker at Contemporary Craft , who nominated Janet McCall, says, “Janet strives to encourage diversity of opinions and perspectives. Borders are crossed and preconceived notions and stigmas are overcome through the universal power of artistic expression under her leadership. “

“Receiving this award is an honor,” Janet states. She furthers, “I try to get people thinking how much of our artistic heritage has been informed by many different cultures and is a product of their shared journeys. This reflects a belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person.”