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Why Is Racism Still An Issue In America?

It seems like the word “racism” is more and more prominent in current news. It’s impossible to deny that news stories speaking of racial discrimination are a weekly and even daily occurrence. But is America even trying to stop racism?

In mid-September, Ahmed Mohammad, a Muslim-American 14-year-old boy from Irving, Texas, was arrested for bringing a clock he had created to his high school. Eager and excited to show his science teacher, he was accused of making a bomb.

Police were soon dragging him out of the classroom and into a secluded room. Ahmed was questioned about the “bomb” he created before school authorities called in police. While he repeatedly told the officers that his clock was just a clock, he was handcuffed and left alone in a room.

If officers and teachers were so convinced his creation was a bomb, why leave it in a room with a handcuffed Ahmed? Why didn’t the officers call in a bomb squad to inspect the bomb? Why did they drag Ahmed out of class, forcing him to face embarrassment in front of his peers?

These questions can only be answered by admitting that it was pure racism against Ahmed.

If America doesn’t take a stand to protect minorities, events like this and much worse are destined to come. Education is something America prides itself on. Bright students are praised and deemed worthy of future success. When a student shows interest in a subject, teachers are supposed to be encouraging. So why not honor Ahmed’s brilliance instead of punishing him? Shouldn’t the police know better when dealing with a young person?

Though Ahmed’s science teacher and local authorities closed the door on Ahmed’s invention, several more opened once this event became top news. Ahmed chose to leave his high school and enroll in a new one that would fully support his education. He has been invited to visit Barack Obama at the White House, been offered to tour Facebook headquarters with Mark Zuckerberg, been awarded a personally created Twitter internship, been offered an invitation to speak with MIT.

Ahmed now has amazing lifetime opportunities to grow as both a professional and individual, but why was this ordeal even necessary? Why did the teachers and police act in this way?

If Ahmed’s teacher honestly thought the clock was a bomb, why didn’t she immediately call the police? Why was the “bomb” moved around the school? There was no need to humiliate and disrespect him.

If the police also thought it was a bomb, why didn’t they immediately call a bomb squad? Why did they allow everyone else to remain in the school, rather than evacuating?

There’s no denying that the reputation of police officers has been tainted this year. To a majority of people of color, police are no longer heroes and safe havens; they’re an attacker. Police brutality against people of color specifically has been gaining more attention in media.

For example, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was innocently shot. Police claimed it was because he was wearing a hoodie and a threat to the safety of those around him. But no one can deny that he was shot and killed because of his skin color.

Ahmed Mohammad was targeted because he is Muslim, and assumed to be a terrorist. If he had been white, his clock would have been raised as a remarkable invention.

Of course, not all officers are bad people with evil or racist motives. But lately, we’ve been seeing too many stories that showcase the bad ones outweighing the good.

Using Ahmed’s story, we need to continue educating students and youth all over the world about injustice, both past and present. A history teacher of mine used to say, “Understand history because it can always repeat itself.”

As Ahmed continues through life and moves on, I hope he realizes that so many people #StandWithAhmed, as well as with anyone who faces discrimination because of their race.

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