Bangladeshi-American YouTuber Nabela Noor's most watched videos feature DIY projects and short vignettes from her life, so it was an unexpected departure when she published a video about being Muslim-American last month.
"I have a large audience on my YouTube channel," she told NBC News. "I do a lot of beauty and DIY videos, I've never really touched on anything controversial or personal, but the way things are now with the cultural landscape — it's scary, it's frightening. It made me think that I needed to use my voice. I have a platform with over 140,000 people tuning in. It just seemed right."
In the video, titled "Dear America|From a Muslim-American," Noor goes over the instances of Islamophobia she and her family have faced, from her friends telling her they could no longer be friends following the Sept. 11 attacks to her mother being called "a terrorist" while wearing a hijab at a local fair. She also stresses the fact that she, her family, and other Muslim Americans love America, as well as calls out violence and hate speech targeting the Muslim-American community.
"I wanted people to know multiple things," she said. "I wanted to educate people who might be confused by the things they see on the news, I wanted to give them a sense of clarity that we are just like you. I cry just as much when a tragedy occurs."
She continued, "I also wanted my viewers — I have a strong audience of Muslims — I wanted them to know they're not alone."
The reaction to her video was swift. In the first few hours after the video published, Noor lost hundreds of followers, she said. But soon after, her audience began to expand and engagement began to grow. Though the video currently sits at approximately 40,000 views, according to Noor, the number of comments and shares rival her most popular videos.
"People have shared a lot of testimony. It's heart wrenching, " Noor said. "It's a really revealing comment section. When the hate comments are intertwined, it does show you the perspective in America today."
It's that perspective that Noor hopes she can help change by sharing parts of her life.
"I just hope people watch my video with an open mind and an open heart," she said. "I want people to see we're just like them and love, compassion, and kindness will always win."