In the midst of a year that was equal parts triumph and descent for the historically oppressed, Ahmed Mohamed’s story is not surprising. The 14-year-old Texas student was arrested for bringing in what his paranoid teacher thought to be a homemade bomb, when in reality it was a clock.
Mohamed’s background and religion likely had everything to do with the situation. If he had been white, would he have received a slap on the wrist, maybe a meeting with the principal, perhaps, but not an arrest and a full-blown interrogation sans parents? However, because much of post-Sept. 11 America is obsessed with the idea that all Muslims have treacherous agendas, Mohamed’s arrest makes perfect sense.
In 2015, it seemed like for every positive event that benefited minorities, there was an immediate cancellation of that progress. While gay marriage was legalized earlier this summer, recently Kentucky courts clerk Kim Davis denied same- sex couples their marriage licenses. Lingerie companies may have started using a more diverse selection of models, but Hollywood-bred movies are continuing to whitewash films (i.e., white, New York-born Rooney Mara playing Tiger Lily, the Native American princess in the “Peter Pan” franchise.) These instances further prove that while some Americans are accepting and open minded, there are those who will always try to derail Americans from the true meaning of freedom and equal representation.
The infamous picture of the teen that is included in most news packages covering the story, a quick snap of Mohamed as he was being taken into custody by police officers, clearly displays the pure confusion on the boy’s face. He looked plain scared —an indication that he meant no harm. What’s really scary is how quickly the boy’s teacher called the police on him.
The media’s response to Mohamed’s ordeal was, however sympathetic. #IStandWithAhmed flooded social media, allowing citizens to express their opinions on the teen’s arrest. News outlets skyrocketed Mohamed to international fame, with his story capturing the attention of science pros NASA and even President Obama. They have praised him for having an interest in STEM, and since the event, he has been sent several technology goodies from various companies.
In a world where people are thrown in jail for being gay in Russia and American college students throw “blackface” parties, Mohamed’s story is not an unusual one. However, the responses that he received were a beacon of hope in a murky sea of adversity. Hopefully, this ordeal is not an indication of more racial profiling to come.