Here is the full transcript of Noor Tagouri’s TEDx Talk: Calling on the 10,000 at TEDxFoggyBottom conference.
My name is Noor Tagouri and on most occasions I’m used to being the elephant in the room: an Arab woman who is a hijabi, who wants to be a news anchor talk show host, who probably has enough scarves to keep you warm for 17 arctic winters. But today, I am honored to be in this room filled with people who believe in unleashing the rebellious spirit within each of us.
My story starts in the first grade. I walked into my first grade class room and I noticed there was only one other girl with dark hair. I sat next to her and I whispered, “Are you Muslim too?” And she looked at me a little funny and responded, “Am I what??” And from that day on, for the next ten years, I would go through this paralyzing identity crisis. When we had to turn in forms for school that asked if we spoke any other languages at home, I would put mine at the bottom of the pile, and no one would know I spoke Arabic. When my friends asked why my mom wore that thing on her head, I’d say, “I don’t know.”
And when the Muslim holiday of Eid came around, I would wait until after Christmas break to use my gifts, because I wanted my friends to think I got gifts for Christmas too. And any time I think about this, I want to go back and shake myself and say, “What were you thinking?” But I wasn’t thinking, not for myself, at least I was following. Because I was still understanding what it meant to wage a personal rebellion. Now, when most of us think of rebellion, we think, some are rebellious by nature and others live passive lives of conformity.