BY MONIQUE JUDGE
Is your activism performative or substantive? One New Jersey teen knew exactly how to show his answer to that question when filling out his application to Stanford University. Asked “What matters to you, and why?,” the teen could think of only one thing: #BlackLivesMatter.
Ziad Ahmed wrote the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter 100 times, and that one act of activism paid off.
According to a Mic profile of Ahmed, he received his letter of acceptance from Stanford on March 31.
Ahmed, who is a senior at Princeton (N.J.) Day School, said in an email to Mic: “I was actually stunned when I opened the update and saw that I was admitted. 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.”
The teen tweeted on Saturday and showed both his statement and his acceptance letter to Stanford, saying, “I submitted this in my @Stanford application, & yesterday, I was admitted…#BlackLivesMatter.”
Earlier this week, the tweet had over 2,600 likes and had been retweeted more than 800 times, including Campaign Zero co-founders Brittany Packnett and Samuel Sinyangwe, as well as Palestinian-American-Muslim activist Linda Sarsour.
Ahmed told Mic that his “unapologetic progressivism” is a central part of his identity, and he wanted that represented in his application.
Commitment to justice
He said that his Islamic faith and his commitment to justice are intertwined, and he would not be a good Muslim 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.”
The 18-year-old has been invited to the White House Iftar dinner, led Martin O’Malley’s youth presidential campaign, and interned and worked for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
He also has founded two youth organizations and delivered a TEDxTalk about the dangers and impact of stereotypes from his perspective as a Muslim teen.
In addition to Stanford, Ahmed was admitted to Princeton and Yale.