Last Monday, 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed brought a homemade clock to school, hoping to receive some praise from his teachers. The aspiring engineer had fashioned the clock from a pencil case.
He was arrested for possession of a “hoax bomb” after showing the clock to his teacher, who immediately interpreted the clock as a threat.
After the charges against him were dropped, Ahmed announced that he was considering switching to a different high school.
President Barack Obama, in response to the absurd behavior of police officers and Ahmed’s teachers, invited him to the White House via Twitter.
Although the president’s invitation is a thoughtful gesture, Obama’s main effort should be to educate police officers and teachers at Ahmed’s school about their overt internal prejudice — it seems that police and teachers reacted the way they did largely because Ahmed is Muslim.
This is not the first time a case of profiling has led to Obama’s intervention. Back in 2009, Sgt. James Crowley arrested Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. at
his own home after a white caller who thought Gates had broken in called the police. Crowley is white, while Gates is black.
After the arrest, Obama stepped in and invited the two men to the White House to discuss their differences together.
The president’s invitation to Ahmed and Gates was wise, but we need to do more. I believe that teaching people, especially young children, not to stereotype others would be more beneficial than White House invitations. By implementing these beliefs at a young age, we may cultivate new generations of teachers and police officers who do not profile based on qualities like race or religion alone.