In a world where judgment is cast just by the sound of a name, and the dignity of a person is blurry due to the coating of stereotypes, racial profiling has become an uninvited routine that meets with Muslims everyday.
School is a place of education and a safe environment built to nourish the young minds of today, for a better tomorrow. Ahmed Mohamed, however, a 14-year-old student at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, feels differently after being arrested for pursuing his dream of becoming an engineer as he brought to school one of his many inventions—a clock. A clock to him, but a threat to his teacher, who perceived it to be a bomb. We are told to think outside the box but are rejected when we think off the grid. Such inventions and passions should be applauded and not castigated. Entering the school filled with pride, Ahmed departs in handcuffs, replete with confusion.
The dynamics of a situation greatly alter the outcome. Had a blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy entered the school with such an invention, he would have been applauded and labeled a genius. For Ahmed Mohamed, however, his name, religion, and race work against him. Rather than being hailed as brilliant, Ahmed is regarded as a threat—a terrorist.
In a post 9/11 society, actions by individuals are notorious for representing groups as a whole. Extra measures of precautions are taken while going through security, offensive names and labels effortlessly roll off tongues, and fingers are pointed at innocent victims. These things are common experiences that have become typical to the average American Muslim in today’s society—it is inevitable. As proven by Ahmed, even schools are no longer a warm and encouraging environment. Since, when did the definition of school change from a nurturing place of acceptance to a place surrounded with suspicions and judgment?
There is no success without hardship. Just as Ahmed began to doubt his aptitude while being interrogated for something truly remarkable, a door of hope opened. On this roller coaster ride of emotions, he is now on an incline to success, as he has received a shower of positive reactions and encouraging words. From scholarships, to internships, and even a personal invitation to the White House, Ahmed Mohamed has been supported and defended by important figures all over the world such as Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, and many other distinguished names. This is not a story of despair; it is a story of hope and success. We have taken a step forward in society and will continue to do so, one hero at a time.
– Written by Hala Ozgur (redefy journalism team member)