Many of us now have heard of the incident regarding Ahmed and his clock. It has sparked national outrage, and the internet has poured in support for Ahmed by encouraging him to pursue his ambitions and to be proud of his heritage.
As part of this, Ahmed has also received an offer to intern with Twitter, a $250,000 scholarship from BitCoin, and a Microsoft goodie bag, including: a Surface Pro 3, a Microsoft Band, a 3D printer, and a Office 365 subscription. In fact, as the days go on, it seems that the donations that Ahmed receives become increasingly lucrative.
It makes one think: “Man, I wish I built a clock and got arrested. Then would I receive the same treatment that Ahmed is receiving?” Of course, Ahmed’s certainly is a special case–he is 14, black, and Muslim. He is a maker, and his hobby is “to invent stuff.” Thus, when he gets arrested for being falsely accused of bringing a bomb to school, the incident represents a much larger problem in America: Islamophobia, racism, white supremacy, prejudices in deterring science. Because of this, he attracts a lot of Internet support, visits to the White House, to Space Camp, and to visit with Mark Z.
But does he deserve so much monetary, physical compensation? Although it is easy to say exactly how much monetary support is worth, and thus to claim how much a company supports Ahmed’s cause, is monetary support really what Ahmed needs, especially at such a young age as 14?
An old Chinese proverb states, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish, and you shall feed him for eternity.” So if Ahmed gets invited to attend the Google Science Fair, or a prestigious space conference at the White House, it’s quite beneficial for him because he gets encouraged to pursue his scientific curiosity, as well as enabling him to be in contact with some truly great minds, who will be able to advise him about society and life. On the other hand, if Ahmed only receives monetary support, it suggests that when anyone insults him, he should expect to receive lots of money or benefits for no work on his part whatsoever. So in the end, monetary support will not teach him to be resilient, hard-working, or less cynical about people.
In addition, every day there are many other Black Muslims in this world who face racism, and yet have to work hard for their scholarships, internships, and Surface Pro 3s. What makes Ahmed different? Do we choose to treat Ahmed like a king so that we don’t have to compensate everyone like him who endures a hardship?
I think if you really want to support Ahmed, invite him over, give him some wise words, encourage his curiosity–but DON’T just send him money, like a scholarship. It trivializes all the hard work that he should have done to receive it.