The organization Unheard Voices of 9/11 is hoping to create a dialogue and bridge people together of all faiths and backgrounds. So it held one of several community hearings in Midtown Manhattan on Saturday.
Participants talked about school bulling, hate crimes, discrimination in the workplace and their relationship with law enforcement, all very personal issues for Sikh participant Gurwinder Singh.
"I cut my hair, not because I wanted to move away from my religion, but so I could fit in," said Singh, who said he was bullied throughout school.
Others at the meeting also spoke of the pressure to conform. Rabia Sajid remembered what her mom was warned after the September 11th attacks.
"Maybe you shouldn't let her wear those clothes or that scarf because it would be safer for right now," said Sajid.
Those who attended the meeting said they feel sadness, anguish and horror when they see where the Twin Towers once stood and reflect on the events of September 11th, but what makes it worse is when people associated them with the terrorists behind the attacks.
At the meeting, participants said they still experience racism and discrimination, although the scars are not always visible.
Openly gay City Councilman Councilman Daniel Dromm sat on the panel. The Queens lawmaker served as a teacher for 25 years before his political career, and he said one of the ways to battle the problem is through education.
"We need to have a curriculum that's a multicultural curriculum that teaches an acceptance of and a celebration of diversity that makes up New York City," said Dromm.
Singh said it was hard to talk about the abuse for fear of his safety. He said when he did report it, not everyone listened, but he never doubted telling his story.
"I spoke up because I wanted other youth to speak up," he said.
Unheard Voices of 9/11 is planning more hearings and more activities in both New York City and San Francisco.