You know who Ahmed is, yes? In case you don’t because you were asleep for the past thirty-six hours, Ahmed Mohamed is the fourteen-year-old Texas ninth-grader who built a digital clock, brought it into school to show to his teacher and ended up in police custody. Here’s one of the many articles about it. Go ahead and read it; I’ll be right here when you’re done.
Unfreakingbelievable, isn’t it? Except it isn’t. Ahmed explained his project to his teachers, and somehow, the result of those interactions was that the teachers didn’t believe him and the school called the police who in turn described the clock as looking “like a movie bomb.”
Would the clock have looked like a bomb if it were brought in by a white kid whose last name was not Mohamed? It’s tough to prove, but that’s often the case with racist behavior. I don’t believe for a second that if my white son had brought in this clock, he would have ended up in police custody like Ahmed.
People and institutions have since opened up to Ahmed, hoping to make up for the indignity he suffered. We want to show him that what happened to him at school does not represent who we are as a country. From President Obama to Mark Zuckerberg to Space Camp to administrators at MIT and various other institutions and corporations, doors have opened for him. “You are awesome and you’re welcome here,” said everyone. The future of science, of the world, is his.
Never mind that the amount of pressure this public glare puts on Ahmed must be crushing. Or that at fourteen, Ahmed may not even know for certain whether he wants a life in science. Once he sorts through the tornado his life has suddenly become, he will find himself, unavoidably, with a scar—one that none of these generous offers will be able to wipe away.