Meet, Noor Tagouri. Noor is a 19 year old Broadcast Journalism major and has big dreams of becoming the first Muslim-American television anchor/talk show host, but with a twist…she wants to do it in her hijab. For those of you that are unfamiliar, hijab refers to the traditional head, face or body covering worn by Muslim women and sometimes men. While there are other Muslim/Muslim American new anchors on television (Ali Velshi and Ayman Mohyeldin on CNN and NBC, respectively), Noor’s choosing to wear hijabi on the air would definitely set her apart, making her a hot topic for discussion on both sides of the debate.
The unmistakable elephant in the room is whether or not American’s are ready to accept such a bold representation of the Muslim faith into their homes, in light of current situations in largely Muslim-populated countries, and given our sensitivity post 9/11. As we round the hill of 11, almost 12, years since one of the most devastating occurrences in American history, the climate is still to some degree solidarity against Muslim people. As ignorant and groupthink minded as that is, it was a knee-jerk and primal response to dealing with a tragedy caused by a small group of people that claimed to act on behalf of a larger group of people. Unfortunately, some have chosen to hold on to this way of thinking still today, increasing the number of obstacles Noor will no doubt face simply by being a woman and a minority.
But it doesn’t stop there. For those of us that are able to separate the actions of some, from the feelings of most, it makes for a hard decision placing someone like Noor before audiences where people of power feel so strongly against her presence. Losing advertisement and endorsement monies behind a decision to promote someone who fits the criteria we’ve created for the “stereotypical” Muslim would be a very noble and very dangerous path for any business to venture down. It speaks to the fact that the bottom-line is always the bottom line, but more importantly, our flawed comfort that so long as I don’t know that it’s something I’ve decided I have a problem with, I won’t have a problem with it. Cc: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
The dark is not without the dawn however. We are at a time in our life as a country and as people in general, where change and difference are becoming more acceptable and more attainable. Additionally, the best way to heal from a wound is not only time, but movement. To say that we as American’s will never have a hijab-wearing, Muslim anchorwoman is ludicrous, and I’d go so far as to say that we’re ready now. Some would disagree, but the only way to find out is if we try, and if those of us who are supporters of progressive movement demand the opportunity to show ourselves as not only tolerant, but embracing of things that were at once uncomfortable for us.