So for all you avid readers that have been eagerly sitting by your computer all day mechanically pressing refresh in expectation of my latest daily blog (so basically you, mother), your agonizing anticipation has finally come to an end. Before you march (those seem to be in vogue these days) to Milwaukee, pitchforks in hand to passively aggressively critique my lack of punctuality, let me first explain myself. The tardiness of this latest installment is for a very good reason.
Tonight at 8PM I attended a speech given by Noor Tagouri, a muslim American on air reporter who currently works for the website Newsy. Now there are many superlatives that could be applied to Miss Tagouri; brilliant, competitive, trailblazer, passionate etc. but I am choosing a far more direct and considerably less elegant phrase— total motherfreakin badass.
I don’t throw around the phrase “badass” very often, in fact, I don’t think its come out of my mouth since Mary Poppins was released, but Noor lives up to that phrase and then some. Noor’s speech chronicled her life and the difficulties she faced growing up and pursing an on screen journalism career as a Muslim American women. The kicker? She never once compromised on the issue of wearing the traditional Muslim headscarf, called a hijab, while pursuing her lofty goals.
Think about that for a moment in terms of America’s current feelings towards the Muslim community. She is a “boots on the ground,” on air, reporter who refuses to remove one of the most unfairly stigmatized articles of clothing a person can wear. She has a political lighting rod unassumingly draped across the very head that some pundits would rather have on a platter than on a screen. She speaks of opposition with great familiarity because it greets her like an old friend at every door she forcibly pries open. Stories that take her collages all of 30 minutes to wrap up, take Noor the better part of the day to grind out. She would set up interviews only to have people pull out at the last second once they realize that a “Muslim girl” would be the one behind the microphone. For every door she yanks open, two more shut in her face.
Yet, the person I saw up on that stage had a fire in her eyes that signaled her desire to not only open doors, but burn them to the ground so that others may kick the ashes to the wind and stream in behind her. I’m getting all worked up again typing this because she was truly inspiring for one simple reason; she was being herself. Noor did not use the stage as a pedestal to rally a new generation of empowered Muslim women to her cause. She simply talked to us just as any 23 year old recent college graduate would. She said “like” and struck poses and rolled her eyes and was so startlingly human that it exposed ignorant bigotry for the sad and empty filth it is.
Her message was clear because it was present in every part of her being, not just in her words; be your authentic self. She is a storyteller and to be a good storyteller, you have to come from a place of authenticity and believability. It would be a grave mistake to look at her headscarf as the thing that defines her and makes her who she is because she is not a one dimensional political meme. She is not a figure head, she’s Noor, the person. I look at her and see a badass, not a badass woman or a badass Muslim, just a plan and simple badass.
So thank you Noor for inspiring me by authentically being you.