Ahmed Mohamed started the week by making a clock. Before the end of Monday he was arrested and talking with the cops. Fourteen years old, Mohamed was suspended for reasons that aren’t clear to me. I understand the initial stereotyping. It happens. Mohamed, a Muslim, can’t simply be a bright kid who likes to make things. That’s too American for someone who doesn’t “look” American. Once he gets arrested and the police clear him of any wrong-doing, why doesn’t the school apologize and let Ahmed Mohamed back into class? I don’t know.
Ahmed’s story resonates with many who weren’t mainstream “cool” growing up — those who preferred to spend time taking things apart and rebuilding them, watch old movies with the A/V club, or play video games. His story also embodies the social urgency called to correct the racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural discrimination behind police profiling and the deep-seated perceptions that too often lead to the brutalization of marginalized communities.
But those biases aren’t limited to police encounters, trickling into everyday life and workplaces — an issue the tech industry is working to improve. That’s why, beyond the many lessons Ahmed can teach society about the gross dangers of prejudice, his story also provides a powerful anecdote in acceptance and the importance of diversity in tech.
When all is said and done, can this teenager move on with this life? Can he be better? Well, the answer is maybe. He has to battle through the crap which can be overwhelming sometimes. Former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin shows how difficult it can be as she writes, “Whereas Ahmed Muhammad, an evidently obstinate-answering student bringing in a homemade ‘clock’ that obviously could be seen by conscientious teachers as a dangerous wired-up bomb-looking contraption (teachers who are told ‘if you see something, say something!’) gets invited to the White House.” I love it when Sarah is showing her racial bias.