Leorardo Dorantes Memorial Lecture to host Noor Tagouri

DELANEY SMITH, Channels Staff

City College will be hosting its 27th annual Leonardo Dorantes Memorial Lecture Wednesday, Nov. 15 with special guest speaker Noor Tagouri.

Tagouri, the first first hijabi journalist on commercial U.S. television, will be speaking about her journey through multiple different types of cultural barriers, including Islamophobia and sexism, to students and the Santa Barbara Community as a whole.

Dr. Christopher Johnson, the dean of Student Support Services, Extended Opportunities Programs and Services, and Disability Services and Programs for Students, has played a large role in organizing the event.

“A big portion of this lecture is going to be about exposure,” Johnson said. “It will allow listeners to realize that we’re all more alike than we are different. I believe [exposure] is a major factor in ending discrimination of any kind, including islamophobia and sexism.”

The historic Leonardo Dorantes Memorial Lecture began in 1991 after a second-year City College student and Mexican immigrant, Leonardo Dorantes, died in a race-related tragedy one year prior. The lectures each year are designed to “heighten the awareness and understanding of racial and ethnic differences and shared commonalities in Santa Barbara.”

Tagouri describes her own role in the world as being someone who is “further establishing a strong platform to encourage others to realize their own potential in a multicultural society,” making her a very fitting speaker for this memorial lecture.

As an African-American man who attended a college with a mere 3% African-American population, Johnson was thrilled to be able to help organize and pick the speaker for the memorial lecture this year— especially one who knows all too well the realities of feeling like the only “sore thumb” in a crowd.

“It’s really important that students come to our campus and see other students, staff, and faculty around them that also look and talk like them,” Johnson said. “Our campus is mostly white, so it’s important for multicultural students to feel comfortable and like they belong here, in order for them to succeed academically.”

In an interview with CBS, Tagouri described herself as “undercover Muslim” for most of her life because she didn’t feel safe identifying as Muslim at school, particularly once she got to high school. The Muslim Student Association was created to be a safe space for Muslim students, and it has a chapter at City College.

Unfortunately, the City College chapter is currently inactive, which is all the more reason Tagouri’s presence on campus is especially needed at this time.

Besides breaking huge barriers as a Hijabi-wearing Muslim in the media, Tagouri also broke barriers as a woman. She has used her platform to empower women everywhere, particularly through combating sex trafficking.

Johnson said that those who are attending the talk can definitely expect to hear her delve into sexism as well as sex trafficking heavily during her talk, and possibly promote her clothing line, #TheNoorEffect.

#TheNoorEffect is a clothing line that Tagouri and Lisn Up Clothing partnered up to create.

The purpose of the line is to empower women and combat sex trafficking, and it is just one of the ways Tagouri has broken gender barriers.

Johnson also said he expects her to talk about some of the work she’s done filming her show, “A Woman’s Job.” In each episode of the show, Tagouri profiles a different woman who is thriving in a male-dominated job/field.

The free lecture will be at 12:45 p.m. on Nov. 15,  in the Garvin Theatre. All of the information for the event can be found on the City College Facebook Page here.