Ahmed Mohamed is a bright, well-spoken and creative grade 9 student in Texas. One of his favourite things to do is invent and build things. He once built himself an extra long-life battery charger for his cell phone. Recently, he built a clock.
His clock wasn’t much to look at. It didn’t look like the kind that would be on your bedside table; it wasn’t in a fancy package. It was in a big metal case, and it had wires coming out of it. But it worked. It was a real digital clock and it worked; it kept the time and it had an alarm.
The 14-year-old was proud of the clock he had built, and he thought his teachers would be, too. So he brought the clock to school to show it to them. He thought they would be pleased.
Instead, Ahmed’s teachers thought his clock might be something dangerous. They were wrong, but they felt that Ahmed might be a threat to the safety of the school so they called the police, and Ahmed was taken to jail. (He was later released and he was not charged with any crime.)
At a news conference, Ahmed said, “I built a clock to impress my teacher but when I showed it to her she thought it was a threat to her. I’m very sad that she got the wrong impression of it.”
Since then, Ahmed’s week improved—to say the least. Many people around the world stuck up for Ahmed and his clock. They said he is creative and smart, and they said he shouldn’t have been arrested or accused—he and his invention should have been praised.
One of those people is U.S. President Barack Obama. He invited Ahmed to the White House. Leaders at big technology companies have offered him “internships” (jobs). Google said they have reserved a spot in their prestigious science fair for him. The creator of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, said online that, “The future belongs to people like Ahmed.”
Some people think that the teachers’ actions were affected by the fact that Ahmed’s skin is brown, and he and his family are Muslims. If so, that is racism. (In this case, “racism” means believing something bad about someone based on things like the colour of their skin or their religion.)
In a media conference, Ahmed said he is going to change schools. It looks like he will have plenty of great options.
By Kathleen Tilly
If this had happened several years ago before social media, the outcome may have been very different. In your opinion, what role did social media play in Ahmed’s situation?
If you were to send a tweet to Ahmed, what would you say? (Remember it can only be 140 characters long).
Reading Prompt: Elements of Style
The headline for this article is very straightforward–boring, even. The headline could have been a lot more “sensational.” Why do you think the author chose this headline?
Identify various elements of style – including word choice and the use of similes, personification, comparative adjectives, and sentences of different types, lengths, and structures – and explain how they help communicate meaning (OME: Reading, 2.4).
Identify various elements of style – including foreshadowing, metaphor, and symbolism – and explain how they help communicate meaning and enhance the effectiveness of texts (OME: Reading, 2.4).
Language Feature: Definitions
In this article, racism is defined as “believing something bad about someone based on things like the colour of their skin or their religion.” Are there other definitions of racism?