Getting acclimated to a new high school is terrifying. As a freshman you are hyper aware of your surroundings; making sure you don’t bump into the 6-foot tall bully at lunch, impressing your teachers with your work ethic and knowledge, and in general just fitting in so as not become the newly appointed outcast. That’s a lot for a 9th grader. Ahmed Mohamed dealt with similar issues at MacArthur High in Irving, Texas, but on Monday he became painfully aware that ‘fitting in’ is even tougher if your skin color says more about you than your actions.
On Sunday night Ahmed assembled a small, homemade clock and placed it snugly inside a pencil case. The next day he showed his project to his engineering teacher who was very much impressed, though he recommended his student to hide it for the remainder of the day. Later on, Ahmed’s clock beeped inside his bag in the middle of English class. When he showed the clock to his teacher, she quickly identified it as a bomb.
The teacher kept the clock and he was pulled out of sixth period by the principal and a local police officer where he was led into a room with four more police officers. Ahmed mentioned as soon as he walked in, one of the officers (whom he never seen before) made the remark: “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.”
“They were like, ‘ So you tried to make a bomb?’” said Ahmed.
“I told them no, I was trying to make a clock.”
“He said, ‘It looks like a movie bomb to me.’”
Shortly after, Ahmed was led out of the school in handcuffs with a three-day suspension.
This is why Americans are considered to be exceedingly hostile to people ‘different’ from us – in this particular time period it’s focused more on Muslims. With stories like these, we confirm the Muslim world’s fears about us and there begins the vicious cycle of bigotry and hostility that always has one side pointing at the other for blame.
Ahmed's sister told me to post this. Yes this situation is real for those questioning. pic.twitter.com/Oxd0JxUS6O
— Prajwol/Ru (@OfficalPrajwol) September 16, 2015
This kid wears NASA T-shirts and likes to build machines in his spare time. Two public institutions failed him – the local police department and the high school, both of which his family’s tax dollars support like every other citizen.
Gawker put out an interesting article titled “7 Kids Not Named Mohamed Who Brought Homemade Clocks to School And Didn’t Get Arrested” on Wednesday afternoon, highlighting seven separate occasions where kids brought homemade clocks to school (one was actually an inert bomb) without consequences.
And President Barack Obama has made a grand gesture, sending a Tweet to Ahmed, inviting him to bring his clock to the White House.
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