UI’s Multicultural Organization Walk It Out Returns With Live Fashion Show

After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, multicultural organization Walk It Out returns with an in-person fashion show April 9 at the Iowa Memorial Union.

Lillie Hawker

Naa Adjeiwa Tackie, the owner of Nana’s African boutique, stands next to dresses from North and West Africa at her store in Iowa City Thursday, April 7, 2022. Tackie provided clothing from his store for Walk It Out.

Through song, music, and fashion, the University of Iowa’s multicultural fashion show, Walk It Out, shares culture with students and community members in the Iowa City area. The show will take place on April 9 in the main hall of the Iowa Memorial Union.

This year marks the 13th anniversary of the organization’s founding in 2009. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this will be the organization’s first in-person show since 2019.

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Each year, student populations determine which groups are represented on the show based on the cultures where students are willing to lead each section. Amna Haider, president of Walk It Out, said the groups vary from year to year depending on who is involved in the organization.

Native Americans, East Asians, Latinos, Africans and South Asians, as well as LGBTQ+ and Hip Hop are seven different cultures that will be featured this year through Walk It Out.

“This is the first time we’ve had a Native American band since, I believe, the 2018 show,” Haider said. “As long as we have the power to represent these groups, they are more than welcome to be part of the show.”

Haider has been involved with Walk It Out since 2018. Before the organization had to discontinue in-person shows in 2020, Haider was able to model with the organization.

Now, as a senior, Haider has taken on more responsibility within the group. Through her increased involvement over the years, she has been able to build strong relationships on campus. Haider and others in the organization have been able to make meaningful connections through Walk It Out, which Haider says is an important part of the group.

“We made so many friends with so many different people who come from different corners of campus, including different people represented in each cultural group,” Haider said. “In terms of uniting underrepresented students on campus and building community, I think that’s why this fashion show is so important.”

The parade is intended to educate the UI student body about the different cultures represented on campus. Mastura Ibnat, vice-president of Walk It Out, said that as a predominantly white institution, it is important to organize multicultural events at UI.

“Exactly how you introduce the culture to people at a PWI matters,” Ibnat said. “Doing it in this very fun, palatable way where people can experience very unifying things — things like dance and fashion and music.”

Several local businesses support Walk It Out through various means. Vice and COPE Apparel are two Iowa City companies that sponsor the Hip Hop group by donating clothing to models.

Nana’s African Boutique also supports the show by donating and selling clothing to Walk It Out’s African group. Naa Adjeiwa Tackie is an Iowa City business owner and a graduate of UI Tippie College of Business.

Tackie also helped the organization in 2012, 2018 and 2019. She said the longevity of the clothes is what initially drew her to clothes and fashion as a marker of culture.

Throughout his time at college, Tackie got to see the portrayal evolve and grow over the years.

“When I started [school at] University of Iowa in 2005, there were very few Africans and very few people of color to begin with,” Tackie said. “To see that there’s enough that we can now showcase the culture, you know, if there’s something I can do to promote that, why not?”

Almost a year ago, Tackie’s business was in danger of closing due to eviction charges. Thanks to community support and Tackie’s perseverance, his business has been able to stay open and continue to serve the Iowa City community.

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Giving back to the people who supported her during these difficult times was essential for Tackie. As a symbol of strength to other business owners, Tackie said she wants to uplift Iowa City’s diverse communities and inspire others.

“Not only have I recovered, but I’m up to speed again and I’m actually helping my university and contributing,” Tackie said. “I give back, in one way or another, to my school and my community.”

Celebration is meant to be the main focus of the show. Organizers Haider and Ibnat both attested to the ultimate goal of Walk It Out – to present culture as something fun that everyone can enjoy.

“These are pretty universally loved and appreciated aspects of culture,” Ibnat said. “It’s very important that we do something like a parade, just because of course the culture is ultimately a lot of fun, and we might as well show it to people.

James C. Tibbs