A Muslim New Jersey high school student who answered a Stanford University application question “What matters to you, and why?” with “#BlackLivesMatter” — written 100 times — ended up getting accepted to the school.
Ziad Ahmed confessed that he was surprised he got in.
“I was actually stunned when I opened the update and saw that I was admitted,” Ahmed told Mic in an email. “I didn’t think I would get admitted to Stanford at all, but it’s quite refreshing to see that they view my unapologetic activism as an asset rather than a liability.”
Ahmed said he wanted to be sure his “unapologetic progressivism” was “represented adequately” in the application.
Ahmed said his Islamic faith and his commitment to justice is intertwined. He believes he wouldn’t be practicing his religion correctly if he turned a blind eye to the injustices the black community faces on a daily basis.
“To me, to be Muslim is to be a BLM ally, and I honestly can’t imagine it being any other way for me,” Ahmed said. “Furthermore, it’s critical to realize that one-fourth to one-third of the Muslim community in America are black … and to separate justice for Muslims from justices for the black community is to erase the realities of the plurality of our community.”
Ahmed said as an ally of the black community, he felt it was his duty to make a statement and speak up against the injustices he witnesses. But while he does consider himself as an activist first, he emphasizes that it’s not his place to speak on behalf of the black community.
“As an ally of the black community though, it is my duty to speak up in regards to the injustice, and while this was not a form of ‘activism’ as it was simply an answer in a college application,” he said. “I wanted to make a statement.”
— Ziad Ahmed (@ziadtheactivist) April 1, 2017
Ahmed said the simplicity of his response was purposeful: “The insistence on an explanation is inherently dehumanizing. Black lives have been explicitly and implicitly told they don’t matter for centuries […]”
Last year, Ziad led Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley’s youth campaign before switching over to the Clinton camp, where he interned.
He also was invited to the Obama White House Iftar dinner where he was “recognized as an [sic] Muslim-American change-maker.”
IMAGE: Teacher Dude/Flickr