Hamtramck High School’s prom had everything: the do-it-yourself Greek columns, pink and white tulle bows, banners, and beautiful girls in beautiful prom dresses… Sounds like a normal prom, right? Sure, except for one little detail: there were no boys!
Hamtramck, a dense, scrappy working-class city of 22,500 encircled by Detroit, once predominantly German and Polish, has become one of the most diverse small cities in America. Many students attending Hamtramck High School are Yemeni-American, Palestinian-American, Bosnian-American and African-American and the prom conformed to Muslim beliefs forbidding dating and dancing with boys.
Although there were no boys, the girls had tons of fun: normally concealed in a chrysalis of hijab and abaya, the traditional Muslim cloak, they literally let their hair down in public for the first time. Eman Ashabi, a Yemeni-American who helped organize the event, arrived in a ruffled pink gown, her black hair falling in perfect waves, thanks to a curling iron. Like many here, she stunned her friends.
In addition to Muslim girls, many non-Muslim students wanted to go, too. “I want to support all my girls,” said Sylwia Stanko, who was born in Poland and whose friends are mostly Bengali-American or Arab-American. “I know how important it is to them.”