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Let Noor Shine: From Vulnerability to Empowerment

Monday afternoon I was going through my usual post class routine. Which mostly consists of avoiding doing my homework and finding motivation to get myself to the gym.It was right around this time when I got a text from my friend Lay asking if I wanted to see someone who was coming to our school to speak that night. This being the perfect way to continue avoiding my homework so naturally I said yes. It was only after I volunteered myself to go that I questioned who this person was and what they were going to be speaking about. Lay said her name was Noor Tagouri and she was going to be talk about cultural injustices and combat the challenges facing woman on a global scale. This is how one of those rare instances where procrastinating my homework  actually had a positive outcome because I can honestly say that Tagouri gave one of the most inspiring talks I have heard on campus to date.

For those of you not familiar Tagouri, she is the first women journalist to ever be shown on a commercial television network wearing a hijab. While Noor knew from a very young age that her passion was in journalism or storytelling, which she called it as a child. Though never in a million years did she think she would be wearing a hijab.

 When she was growing up Noor was so embarrassed of being Muslim, to the point where she went out of her way to hide it from her classmates.  When papers had to be filled out asking if students spoke a second language Noor would wait to be the last student in the class to place her paper in the pile. She strategically did this so she could place hers under everyone else’s. To ensure no one would know that she spoke Arabic. On days when her mother was coming into school to volunteer in the classroom Noor spent her day praying that her mother had forgotten to put on her hijab that morning when she woke up. In order to avoid all the questions of “why is your mom wearing that on her head?”

After years of struggling with her identity Tagouri and her family moved just outside of Washington DC when she was just 15 years old. To an area a lot more diverse than the one she had previously came from. In an impulsive move to deal with her identity crisis she began wearing a hijab, in hopes to feel more connected to her roots, which she had spent so long battling against. It was around this time that things really began taking off.

By 16 she had began taking college level courses. After a poetry reading at her college a lady by the name of Justine Love approached Tagouri and offered her an internship at CBS radio. From there she became an associate journalist for CBS radio, became a local news reporter for CTV news, a journalist for the Huffington post. Today, she is now writing stories for the millennial news cite Newsy. Did I mention she’s only 22?

 Tagouri’s journey was far from easy but nowhere along the way did she ever consider quitting an option. Throughout her life and career, she has fallen victim to slander due to the fact that she wore a hijab. She has used her vulnerability as her agency to inspire all those around her.

 Tagouri has launched a campaign called Let Noor Shine, Noor being the Arabic word for light. This campaign is dedicated to inspiring all people to let their own light shine and achieve their dreams, no matter how out of reach they may seem. She has used the platform that she struggled to build herself to pull others up. As the first ever Muslim-American-Arab journalist she is the voice to explain her religion. As well as ensuring that when reporting on terrorist groups such as ISIS the Muslim population as a whole is not lumped to gather and associated with terrorist organizations that have NO relation to the religion of Islam. Most of all she states that the scarf she wears is not a sign of submission, oppression, or a need for savior. She uses it as a way to break down the rigidly tall barriers that are placed around Muslim woman everyday. We live in a country where almost every race can be seen in our population. However we do not have a media that reflects this diversity. We cannot continue to let the narrative of our nation be told by those who have no knowledge of cultures of the stories they are telling. Noor is here, she is present, and she will not be silenced.

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