Stanford applicant Ziad Ahmed did not mince words when he answered the question “What matters to you, and why?” on his Stanford University undergraduate application. He wrote this 100 times: #BlackLivesMatter.
The daring move actually paid off when Ahmed, a senior at New Jersey’s Princeton Day School, received his acceptance letter from Stanford.
The unusual, even risky, way of answering the standard application essay drew attention since Ahmed posted his answer and acceptance letter on Twitter. The post, now receiving more than 2,000 likes and hundreds of retweets, was again accompanied by the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.
Ahmed told Mic that he was surprised to see he 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,” he explained in an email.
This “unapologetic progressivism,” Ahmed added, is a central part of his identity, which he wanted to be sufficiently represented in his college application.
Fueled By Islamic Faith
Ahmed recognized his Islamic faith as one of the reasons he is a supporter of the BLM movement. His faith and commitment to justice are intertwined and he would not be able to practice his religion properly if he turns a blind eye to injustices upon the black community, he went further.
The new Stanford admit cited that up to one-third of the U.S. Muslim community are black, and warned against separating justice for Muslims from those for blacks as well as the rest of the country’s communities.
It’s no accident that the Bangladeshi-American teen did this act given his line of activism work. At age 18, he was already invited to the White House Iftar dinner and, during Obama’s term, was recognized as a Muslim-American change-maker.
In 2015, Ahmed also delivered a TedxTalk in Panama on the dangers and effects of stereotypes as a Muslim teenager.
And it’s not just Stanford that the senior high school student got into, but also Yale and Princeton.
#BlackLivesMatter came to life in 2012 when Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman, was acquitted for the crime and the dead 17-year-old was posthumously placed on trial for his own murder, according to the national BLM organization.
Anchored on the experiences of black people in the United States who “actively resist dehumanization,” the movement is mounted as a response to the “virulent anti-Black racism” said to permeate society.
“BLM movement has a structural criticism of racism. So, they’re not just criticizing the justice system. They’re making a claim that the justice system in the United States is connected to unemployment, public school segregation, environmental racism and inequality,” said African-American history expert and University of Texas professor Peniel Joseph in an interview. “So it’s just basically the police are the tip of a larger iceberg of systemic oppression.”
For Joseph, the movement illustrates “the depth and breadth of structural racism and state violence” via police power against minority groups as well as poor white communities in the United States.