Noor Meer: Acceptance In The Midst of Tragedy

Noor Meer is a first-year student at Adelphi University. While growing up a minority, wearing a hijab, has made her life more difficult more often than not, in the midst of tragedy, she has finally experienced acceptance, pride and a sense of belonging. Her full story is available here.

I’ll be honest, there are things that go on in my head that scare me every single day. My religion is so often erroneously associated with terrorism, barbarity and oppression that I can’t help but have this sinking feeling in my chest every time I go out in public, go online or socialize with anyone other than fellow Muslims.

After the Paris attacks on November 13, 2015, my mom was called a terrorist in a deli and we were followed by a man calling us Arabs. My friends were on a train platform and were yelled at by a man because one of them wears the hijab, and the man started a physical fight with someone who tried to intervene.

The day after the Paris attacks, I decided to stay home from a very important Levermore Global Scholars trip to a heritage center. The commute was over an hour on the subway, and I was terrified of what some people might’ve said or done to me: a Muslim girl who wears a hijab. I made my decision based on messages and texts I got from my friends warning me to stay indoors the next day, so I notified the LGS’ers through our group chat.

I was shocked by their responses. I couldn’t believe that everyone was actually concerned for my safety. I couldn’t believe that my friends were standing up for my beliefs. During the trip, I was sent a 30-second video of everyone saying things like, “Hi Noor, we love and miss you. We wish you were here!” I was speechless.

The following Monday in class, we discussed the Paris attacks and everyone agreed to organize a campus talk on Islamophobia as our final project. I teared up. Again, I couldn’t believe that so many non-Muslims were standing up for my religion. In a world that appears full of hate and violence, I was experiencing love, and for the first time in a long time, acceptance.

I’m a first-year student at Adelphi University. I’m a biochemistry major and a psychology minor. I’m also in the Adelphi University Levermore Global Scholars Program. I write for an online social content platform called Odyssey. I’m 18 years old and earned my A.A. degree in Liberal Arts through Bard College in June 2015, a few days after I received my high school diploma from Bard High School Early College II in Long Island City. I’m pretty active on campus. I’m one of the freshman representatives on the Levermore Global Scholars Student Leadership Council.

I’m on the e-board as Public Relations Head in Adelphi’s Muslim Student Association. I’m an active member of Chemistry Club and Adelphi SASA (South Asian Student Association). I’m in an organic chemistry research group where I study the synthesis of light-emitting fluorophores. I’ve also been nominated for the 2015-2016 Outstanding First Year Student Award. My parents came to New York from Pakistan before I was born, and I was born and raised in Queens, New York. My future plans revolve around getting a Ph.D. in something chemistry-related like Medicinal Chemistry or Organic Chemistry, or maybe even Biochemistry or Biotechnology.

I often think that people associate me, a small, young, Southeast Asian girl, with danger, with bombs, with murder and with terrorism. However, I’m nonetheless proud to wear the hijab and to be an American Muslim. It’s a part of my identity that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. Although I live in a constant subconscious state of worry, paranoia and fear, my pride tops it all without a doubt. I try to live life the best that I can because at the end of the day, I know that I’m slowly conquering this fear of being judged. I’m still struggling, but I won’t give up because I know that there is so much beauty in life that I haven’t seen yet.

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