Mohamed Ahmed is a 14-year old Texan from Irving who loves to invent and build things. This week, he built a homemade clock and brought it to school to show his teacher, thinking it would impress him. What happened next is has sent a shockwave of outrage across the country and across the globe and even prompted Hillary Clinton to take time off from her campaign to tweet her support of the precocious high schooler.
Here’s what went down:
Ahmed’s clock was hardly his most elaborate creation. He said he threw it together in about 20 minutes before bedtime on Sunday: a circuit board and power supply wired to a digital display, all strapped inside a case with a tiger hologram on the front.
He showed it to his engineering teacher first thing Monday morning and didn’t get quite the reaction he’d hoped for.
“He was like, ‘That’s really nice,’” Ahmed said. “‘I would advise you not to show any other teachers.’”
He kept the clock inside his school bag in English class, but the teacher complained when the alarm beeped in the middle of a lesson. Ahmed brought his invention up to show her afterward.
“She was like, it looks like a bomb,” he said.
“I told her, ‘It doesn’t look like a bomb to me.’”
The teacher kept the clock. When the principal and a police officer pulled Ahmed out of sixth period, he suspected he wouldn’t get it back.
They led Ahmed into a room where four other police officers waited. He said an officer he’d never seen before leaned back in his chair and remarked: “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.”
Ahmed felt suddenly conscious of his brown skin and his name — one of the most common in the Muslim religion. But the police kept him busy with questions. […]
Police led Ahmed out of MacArthur about 3 p.m., his hands cuffed behind him and an officer on each arm. A few students gaped in the halls. He remembers the shocked expression of his student counselor — the one “who knows I’m a good boy.”
Ahmed was spared the inside of a cell. The police sent him out of the juvenile detention center to meet his parents shortly after taking his fingerprints.
When word of Ahmed’s situation hit the internet, it exploded with a fury you don’t often see. Hillary Clinton joined the maelstrom, sending this tweet:
Assumptions and fear don't keep us safe—they hold us back. Ahmed, stay curious and keep building. https://t.co/ywrlHUw3g1
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 16, 2015
Perhaps the biggest treat was this tweet from President Obama, inviting Ahmed to bring his “cool clock” to the White House to show him:
Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It's what makes America great.
— President Obama (@POTUS) September 16, 2015
This particular picture has been retweeted over and over again:
— Ariel Winter (@arielwinter1) September 16, 2015
There is so much wrong with how Ahmed’s teachers, the school administrators, and law enforcement agents behaved in this situation, particularly taking him out of the school in handcuffs as if the young man was some sort of threat.
They terrorized a bright young man for being clever and creative and industrious, showing him that having an Arab-sounding name and brown skin means you are a suspect just because of who you are. The long-term impacts on him could be devastating.
They showed Ahmed’s classmates that it’s okay to treat people who look different or have foreign-sounding names as less than human, stripping away their dignity, and making them look like criminals simply because of who they are, not because of anything they have actually done.
Finally, as my friend Stephanie White put it on Facebook, they taught Ahmed and his classmates that “bigotry still carries the force of law in our country.”
Fortunately, reason (eventually) prevailed. The Irving police are not going to press charges. However, they also claim, “the reaction would have been the same regardless” of his skin color, something that strains credulity, particularly given the one cop’s comment, “Yup, that’s who I thought it was,” when he saw Ahmed walk into the room.
This morning, Ahmed, aware of the massive tsunami of support he’s gotten from around the world, sent out a tweet thanking people for having his back:
— Ahmed Mohamed (@IStandWithAhmed) September 16, 2015
It’s unfortunate that the so-called adults in Ahmed’s community don’t have as much class as him.
More on this story here at Eclectablog HERE.