“Don’t let people change who you are, even if you get a consequence for it.” This is what Ahmed Mohamed said after being arrested for building a clock. For an innocent teenager to have faced such a terrifying situation, he is not letting it stop him from being creative and curious.
Fourteen-year-old Mohamed, from Irving, Texas, was arrested after teachers claimed that his homemade clock looked like a bomb and felt that it was a threat to the school. He was placed in handcuffs and fingerprinted before being taken to juvenile detention. While the charges have now been dropped and his clock declared not a threat, this incident has the Internet’s reaction pouring in overnight.
The story exploded online Tuesday night after Buzzfeed first pushed the article, and it quickly drew social media’s attention to defend the student. The #IStandWithAhmed hashtag began trending and was used by many of his supporters. He received supportive tweets from President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Mark Zuckerberg, and many other well-known figures from the science and engineering world.
Mohamed’s quick arrest was a clear sign of racism and assumptions made by the bigoted minds and system of Irving. His creativity and intelligence were put down. Teachers believed that he was incapable of creating a clock on his own. It shouldn’t occur to teachers that when a student shows them an invention, it’s automatically considered a threat. But ultimately, this implied a clear message that because of Mohamed’s ethnicity and Muslim name, a bomb was the only reasonable explanation as to what it could be.
Despite the United States’ ongoing fight against “radical Islam” and terrorism, racial profiling continues to be a tense and pressing issue in all of North America. Other than the online community, no one in the governing systems of Irving showed Mohamed respect or sympathy for the mistakes they made. Rather than admit they were wrong, Mohamed’s school and the mayor praised their police system, declaring that the safety of children is the main priority. There was no acknowledgement of the racial profiling they had just committed, nor the damage they may have caused to the innocent student being arrested, all because he wanted to impress his teachers. No kid should have to know what being arrested feels like.
Just as Hillary Clinton says in her tweet, “Assumptions and fear don’t keep us safe – they hold us back.” We cannot allow for these misconceptions of “minorities” to set them back from progressing. Mohamed demonstrated that he has the ability to be the next prodigy. Every invention he creates should be taken seriously. Intelligence, creativity, and curiosity need to continually be instilled in every child of every ethnicity in order for them to succeed. Every child has the right to create and invent without worrying that they will threaten the nation, because these are just innocent minds hoping to one day become Nobel Prize winners or the next president. If we continue to assume that children are incapable of high intelligence, then America is only failing the 21st century, not changing it.