Ahmed Mohamed is a ninth-grader in Irving, Texas. On Monday, he brought a clock he built to school — and, on the request of school officials, was arrested. Police suggested that he had tried to make a bomb.
It's hard to see this as anything but blatant, naked Islamophobia: Police surely would not have hauled off a white kid because of a clock. And it's something that needs to be dealt with loudly — something that tech writer and entrepreneur Anil Dash, one of the first to pick up on this story, articulates forcefully in this series of tweets.
Dash's point: When minority kids face discrimination for doing the same thing white kids do — like, say, building a clock and showing it to teachers at school — they get turned off from trying at all. This is an especially severe case, but one that illustrates the way systemic racism limits opportunity for people of color.
Irving, TX, with one of the most virulently Islamophobic mayors in the U.S., handcuffs a teen for his invention. http://t.co/O0muOtNYhu— Anil Dash (@anildash) September 16, 2015
I used to take circuit boards & electronics to school, even as the only brown kid. Now, my entire job is building a community of makers.— Anil Dash (@anildash) September 16, 2015
If any of our early geek experiments had gotten the most terrifying response possible from teachers & police, would we have kept doing it?— Anil Dash (@anildash) September 16, 2015
Dash's suggestion was simple: Get people to support Ahmed, so he's not permanently turned off from tech (according to the Dallas Morning News, Ahmed said he's never bringing an invention to school again). Dash is working, he writes, to rally the community of "makers" — people creating new things in tech — to help Ahmed by compiling a Google Doc filled with ideas for improving his situation (as well as messages of support for the ninth-grader) and creating a Twitter account dedicated to publicizing the case.
If anybody in or near Irving knows the Mohamed family, please get word to them that the entire online maker community supports Ahmed.— Anil Dash (@anildash) September 16, 2015
When they're ready, we will connect Ahmed to any Maker event or hardware hacking community he wants to join & get him resources.— Anil Dash (@anildash) September 16, 2015
Many have asked how you can help. Until we've heard back from the Mohamed family, here's a form to show your support: http://t.co/ENpjid6boD— Anil Dash (@anildash) September 16, 2015
Teachers shouldn't respond to inventive kids by calling the cops. Say how you'll #HelpAhmedMake: http://t.co/8XnRCrTYe8 (Please RT!)— Anil Dash (@anildash) September 16, 2015
I expect they will have more to say tomorrow, but Ahmed's sister asked me to share this photo. A NASA shirt! pic.twitter.com/nR4gt992gB— Anil Dash (@anildash) September 16, 2015
Ahmed and family have set up an official Twitter account: @IStandWithAhmed Please follow it for their own updates.— Anil Dash (@anildash) September 16, 2015