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The Good That Came From Ahmed Mohamed's Homemade Clock

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Imagine yourself at 14. You're young, smart, curious and creative, and you really like science. You decide to build a clock because you want to experiment and invent. Pleased with the result, you decide to take it with you to school, so you can show off your craftsmanship, your creativity and your inventive spirit. But instead of being praised for it, the police handcuff you and take you to the station, because actually, you might've tried to sneak a bomb into the building. What would you do?

It sounds ridiculous, but it happened to Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old who got arrested just days ago (but was released hours later after being interrogated about his supposed bomb). In a rather tragic turn of events, rather than recognizing his excellent work, he was racially and religiously profiled, condemned for things he has taken no part in and branded a terrorist.
Texas Muslim Student ClockWhat could have been labeled as just another incident in a range of other cases exemplifying violence against Arabs and African-Americans, Ahmed's story was immediately picked up by news agencies and social media, attracting nationwide - even global - attention. Because it is not just Ahmed's clock, it is every person's clock that has been discriminated against based on their race or religion. And that might be exactly what is needed to put an end to the alarmingly rising rates of unjust arrests, sometimes even resulting in sustained injuries or death.

As people started sharing his story online and connecting with others, social media began playing the role it performs so well - that of a moral compass. The hashtag #IStandWithAhmed trended worldwide for hours, representing a united call that is echoed in every region of the world; his treatment was unfair, unjust and everything should be done to ensure it will not happen again.

Ahmed's clock showcases the double-edged sword that is attention. Not only has social media done an incredible job at negatively presenting the biased and opinionated police force responsible for his arrest, it simultaneously highlighted that the need for change is backed by public opinion. Racial profiling is not an issue that should be ignored. It should be actively talked about in politics because it is a problem and it is ruining an entire generation of youth. His clock was supposed to be a positive statement about something inherently human: learning, being curious and wanting to discover - I think that every person has the urge to know. Instead, his clock was taken hostage by other people's fear and used to target a specific group in a negative way.
Texas Muslim Student ClockSo it is great to see, not only the public, but influentials like Barack Obama himself, and Keith Ellison as first Muslim member of Congress, voice their support for him, recognizing the importance of the issue at hand. Not only does it show that intolerance is unacceptable, it has removed ignorance as well.

And in a strange way, I'm almost glad it was Ahmed because he's an amazing kid who's already had to endure a lot, yet continues to grow stronger every day while remaining kind and humble. The people supposed to protect him might have lost faith in him, but he has not lost his faith in them. He continues to be curious and respecting of others, his family even ordered pizza for the press when they were stationed around their house, waiting to hear him speak on his treatment in school.

So yes, even though the situation still is deplorable, it has given him the opportunity to be recognized as a smart individual, receiving invitations for the White House and NASA, as well as sparked a much needed national and public debate on the issue of racial profiling and the fear of otherness.

In other words, Ahmed Mohamed's homemade clock might just be the game-changer we've been waiting for.

(Cambio Col[lab] is a lab for young creators to showcase their passion and develop their voice. Like what you're seeing? Share it to support their effort!)


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