Most reactions to the news of Ziad Ahmed getting into Stanford with an application where he answered the question What matters to you (100 word limit) with the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag repeated 100 times have fallen into two camps: admiration from the MSM and charges that Ziad must be stupid or lazy or Marxist from conservatives.
For example, from National Review:
by KATHERINE TIMPF April 4, 2017 4:07 PM @KATTIMPF
Success in activism is not measured by how strongly you believe that you are right, it’s measured by how effectively you can convince others of your views. … Now, Ahmed may call his refusal to explain his answer “unapologetic activism,” but here’s the thing: The entire purpose of “activism” is to enact change. … Success in activism is not measured by how strongly you believe that you are right, it’s measured by how effectively you can convince others of your views. Bringing other people to your side is, after all, the only way to achieve the change that is activism’s goal. Ahmed believes that he is so obviously correct that no explanation should be necessary, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is necessary. A huge segment of the population doesn’t even understand what the goals of #BlackLivesMatter even are; the fact that explanation is necessary is an objective fact. His answer was not a victory for his movement, but a missed opportunity.
Oh, and then there’s this: Not only is Ahmed a lazy activist, but he’s also a lazy question-answerer.
Uh, no, one thing you can definitely say for Ziad Ahmed is the kid is not lazy. Ziad’s goal in this case was to get Ziad into Stanford, not to persuade the Stanford admissions committee of the holiness of the BLM cause, which, he rightly assumed, required no argument from him.
Another thing you can say is that, contrary to some conservative commenters’ assumptions, he’s not stupid.
Nor is he some kind of Marxist anti-capitalist. He started a marketing consultancy as a teenager to help businesses sell more crap to teenagers.
We live in age less beset by collectivism than by elitist ideologies that encourage the most grasping individuals to screw over the poor dumb trusting masses and feel righteous about doing so because those saps had it coming, those racist homophobic haters.
The reason you read iSteve rather than National Review is because you get the joke. The Ziad Ahmed story tells us a hilarious amount about America in 2017, it just happens to be things that few on the left or right want to hear.
From NBC News, more on Ziad Ahmed of Princeton Day School, who is the scion of Shakil Ahmed, founder of the Princeton Alpha Management hedge fund. (In case you are wondering, this kid is not a parody made up by me or anybody else. I checked.)
NEWS APR 5 2017, 5:51 PM ET
Teen Accepted to Stanford After Writing #BlackLivesMatter 100 Times on Application
by AVALON ZOPPO
After completing his Stanford application, high school senior Ziad Ahmed looked at his answers and realized an important component was missing amid a flurry of standardized test scores and extracurricular activities: his voice and passion.
So Ahmed took a risk. In response to a question asking “What matters to you, and why?” the teen wrote “#BlackLivesMatter” exactly 100 times. …
“It was important to me that the admissions officers literally hear my impatience for justice and the significance of this issue,” Ahmed told NBC News. “The hashtag conveys my frustration with the failure of judicial system to protect the black community from violence, systemic inequity, and political disenfranchisement.”
At only 18-years-old, Ahmed has amassed an impressive resume.
He got his start in activism as a high school freshman, when he launched an anti-discrimination organization called Redefy, a group composed of 250 students internationally that aimed to break stereotypes using the power of social media.
He also interned for 2016 presidential candidate Martin O’Malley, volunteered with the Hilary Clinton campaign and attended and was recognized by Barack Obama at a 2015 White House dinner.
While standardized test scores do speak to his hard work, Ahmed said his unconventional essay answer was an attempt to express his passion for spurring change.
“I wanted to demonstrate that the essence of what motivates me as a learner, a member of a faith community, and a global citizen is my passion to be a part of change-making,” he said.
They should sign this kid up to deliver the keynote address at the next Davos Conference. His mastery of Master of the Universe buzzphrases is off the charts.
As a Muslim-American, Ahmed described himself as “an unapologetic progressive activist” and ally to the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Islamophobia has certainly been a priority of mine in my advocacy, but it is connected to the legacy of racism and oppression that the black community continues to face,” he said.
Ahmed said he received an outpouring of support after posting a photo of his application, which has garnered more than 3,000 retweets, but he has also been receiving personal attacks. Some have targeted his Muslim faith.
“The power of social media has also provoked significant trolling and personal attacks. It’s certainly been a hard to navigate and the vitriol is sobering,” he said.
Politicians and activists, including O’Malley and Women’s March organizer Linda Sarsour, took to Twitter to congratulate Ahmed on his acceptance to the California school.
Moving forward, the teen said that he plans to channel the recent attention he is receiving into the Black Lives Matter movement and to donate to Stanford’s Black Community Services Center.
“It is my hope that this attention encourages and motivates people to confront the inequity that we see today,” he said. “It is my hope that students, adults and people all around the world will learn about the organizations that will give them a way to be an ally and support the policy changes we need today.”
Family friend Amber Khan described the teen as “extremely passionate about confronting injustice.”
“He’s willing to use his voice and explore the uncomfortable to create the kind of change that needs to happen,” she said.
Stanford University confirmed Ahmed’s acceptance to NBC News but declined to further discuss the student’s application. Notably, 2016 marks the lowest number of people offered admission to the University in its history. …
And from MTV News two years ago:
You say you want a revolution? Well, one teen is proving that with peace, love and the Internet, you can have one.
Ziad Ahmed is a 16-year-old sophomore at Princeton Day School in Princeton, New Jersey. In the summer before his freshman year, he created Redefy — a multi-platform organization, whose mission is “to boldly defy stereotypes, embrace acceptance and tolerance, redefine our perspectives positively, and create an active community.”
My eyes glazed over halfway through Ziad’s mission statement …
Ziad recently explained in a chat with MTV News that his experience as a Bangladeshi-American, practicing Muslim and self-described “non-conformist” largely informed his decision to create Redefy.
“Many people had prejudice and misconceptions about my faith, even when I was little. The media paints a picture of Islam, and many minorities, in a way that’s detrimental to the public’s perception of them,” he told MTV News.
Ziad further described his first-hand experience with bias.
“I deal with prejudice every day and have my entire life,” he said, “from being put on the TSA watch list as a child because of my name and having to go to a separate counter to get my tickets … to being constantly told I am ‘cute for a brown kid.’
“I started Redefy to initiate a positive change in the world and to fight the ignorance which I have been victim to,” Ziad said. “And more importantly, to fight the ignorance which people will fall victim to who may not have the opportunity to properly defend themselves or understand that there are people who accept them and love them for exactly who they are.
Redefy primarily operates as a website where people can share their experiences with prejudice and post reflections about different current events stories where stereotyping and acceptance are part of a national and/or personal conversation. Redefy also shares various stories about social justice issues on its Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Tumblr accounts. Ziad hopes this interconnected network of experiences will unite people through their shared experiences.
“It’s so hard to hate someone when you understand what they’re going through,” the teen explained.
Personally, over the last 24 hourse, I’ve come to understand a lot about what Ziad Ahmed is going through …
Within communities, Redefy holds workshops for younger students to gain insight into what stereotypes are and how to combat them. Ziad described working with people as young as fifth grade as a moving experience. “They don’t necessarily know the terms stereotypes or prejudice,” he told us, “But when you hear them articulate their experiences, they know it all too much.”
In addition to Ziad’s role as founder, he works with a leadership team of four friends and 20 representatives in schools around the world advocating for the organization’s various campaigns. As far as the future of Redefy, Ziad hopes to hold larger conferences and wider-scale programs to educate young people on bias and creating accepting spaces in their communities and ultimately, the world. He hopes the organization will continue to spur teen activism too.
“What a lot of young people don’t realize is that this is our fight. Injustice is our fight,” Ziad added. “Until we all unite in our injustices, ignorance will continue to exist.” …
I bet you are just dying to read Ziad’s Huffington Post endorsement of Hillary from last October:
by Ziad Ahmed, Contributor
Teen Activist, Founder of Redefy, CVO of JÜV Consulting, TEDx Speaker, Kid Tryna Change the World
I won’t be at the polls, but my future is on the ballot.
10/28/2016 04:15 pm ET | Updated Oct 30, 2016
This is not an endorsement; this is a reality.
When I think about my experience as an American-Muslim teen, it is characterized by the feeling of constantly being on the defense.
I’m not somebody who is remotely athletic, but I like to think about it in terms of sports. Imagine the American-Muslim community as a sports team ― we are always on the defense. Whether it is the Trump Effect manifesting in classrooms, the increase in Islamophobic hate crimes by 89 percent, or seven-year-old Abdul Aziz who was beaten up for being Muslim, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how our community must constantly be on guard. I might not be a sports expert, but I understand enough to realize what happens when a team is only on defense. It’s not fun. It’s exhausting. It’s nearly impossible to score.
Don’t get me wrong, we are scoring. Whether it be Ibtihaj Muhammad winning a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics, Huma Abedin campaigning across this country, Rabia Chaudry making a New York Times bestseller list, or the countless Muslim role models that I have in their many forms, we are certainly achieving. Linda Sarsour, Omid Safi, and Sarah Harvard are using their voices for justice. Zaki Barzinji, Rumana Ahmed, and Arsalan Suleman are using public office to advance progress. Haroon Ullah, Laila Alawa, and Donya Nasser are my mentors, and they have showed me time after time through their brilliance what it means to be a proud American-Muslim.
But not Clock Boy Ahmed Mohamed, That little bastard’s Victimization Narrative got him in to meet Obama 18 months younger than mind did. The Other Ahmed is my archrival. It’s not enough that I triumph, but for me to be happy, Clock Boy must also fail.
We are scoring. But, it’s that much harder.
We have to wait for the moment where there is a slight opening in the field. We have to pray for a breakaway. We are not given the space to run freely, and frankly, I’m tired of running against a barrage that doesn’t value my existence enough to let me just be me.
In the era of Trump though, it isn’t so much that we are on the defense ― it is that we are being attacked so acutely that we aren’t even given the space to formulate a defense. And I, for one, will not stand for it. …
That isn’t news though. That isn’t my battle hymn, and that’s the case because I remember reading The Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mom
See … (To be pedantic, Amy Chua’s comic bestseller is Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother not Mom)
and being shocked at the calculated rigor of her life.
I could never have imagined that I would live under a similar rigor ― the difference though is that the stringency expected of Muslims is not out of choice, but rather, it has been done to us.
Trump has created a United States that asks of me to prove my American identity. The norm for each Muslim student in this country has become being accused of being a “terrorist” at some point in his/her/their life. But more problematically, it has become the assumption that one can somehow not be both authentically Muslim and American simultaneously, and that is what gets me more than anything else.
It’s the moment on the train when new passengers board, and I feel the need to turn my backpack the other way in order to hide my “#MyMuslimVote” pin courtesy of MPower Change. It’s the constant conversations where people ask leading questions to evaluate my patriotism ― “Do you even celebrate Fourth of July?” It’s the flurry of haters that conjure bizarre insults every time one of my tweets gets more than five retweets. It’s the multiple pairs of American-flag socks that I wear often as a statement that say ― I am American, as if it is somehow defiant.
Just last weekend, I was in a video/photoshoot for David Yi’s Very Good Light. It was a project featuring American-Muslims, and I was posed the question,“what does it mean to you to be American?” And, it occurred to me ― being American, to me, simply just means being me.
I do not need to qualify, evaluate, or prove myself to anyone ― ever. My American-ness exists within my freedom to exist freely as myself, and I need not any more proof than that of my identity.
My existence is now constantly measured in terms of my reaction to you, Mr. Trump, and I have a simple response; I do not exist for you or in terms of you, and I never will.
To beg of me to prove my American-ness is to negate the very fundamental core of this country. We were never meant to be a sea of sameness, but rather, we were always an amalgamation of individuals believing in the promise that we can be great, not that we have been great or somehow inevitably will be, but that we can be. We can be great when we allow each individual to exist freely, when we give our children the space to grow and to trailblaze their own future paths of brilliance.
So, I echo the notions of Khizr Khan in his brilliant Hillary Clinton advertisement that Dean Obeidallah noted has given our community the humanity we deserve. And, my question is ― Mr. Trump, will there be a space for me in your America?
From where I’m sitting, there won’t be.
I was born and raised in this country, and I’ve sought to make this country, my home, as beautiful as it can be. Throughout my high school career, I have advocated tirelessly for equality. I founded an international teen organization for social justice, redefy, when I was in eighth grade. I’ve been fortunate to have had exposure to outstanding American-Muslim role models that have made me proud to be me. I’ve even had the honor to meet leaders including the President to speak my truth, and I am still tired.
My existence is now constantly measured in terms of my reaction to you, Mr. Trump, and I have a simple response; I do not exist for you or in terms of you, and I never will.
I don’t write this for me though. I write this for a world that expects American-Muslim children to be on the defense constantly, to be able to learn as fully when constantly under attack, and to be lesser. I write this for a world that has created a gross dichotomy between “Good Muslims” and “Bad Muslims,” and the ensuing expectation that all American-Muslims must complete a never-ending arbitrary checklist to achieve the coveted title of “Good Muslim.”
I write this because I believe in a future that is great. I write this because I imagine a world where the children I hope to one day have can be proud American-Muslims ― proud in however they identify. I write this because that tomorrow is possible, under the leadership of Hillary Rodham Clinton.
I’m seventeen, and I cannot vote, so I write this to implore every person who reads this to vote for me.
I won’t be at the polls, but my future is on the ballot ― my ability to score is on the ballot.
Seriously, an awful lot of Social Justice Jihadism is an outlet for anger over not being at the top of the sexual attractiveness pyramid. Everybody feels the world is unfair to them in the looks department. Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie probably both feel deeply that they were unjustly shortchanged by our society’s socially constructed standards of beauty. All they want out of life is to be the fairest of them all. Is that too much to ask?
It’s that bitch, Charlize, isn’t it?
Charlize is insecure too? Good! … But … that just makes her seem more human and appealing …
Well, at least we can all be sure it’s not Kristen Stewart.
Anyway, these kids like Ziad talk about Social Justice but what they actually want is Sexual Justice, by which they would mean Sexual Supremacy. They want to be thought the fairest of them all, not just “cute for a brown kid.”
Michelle Obama gave a breathtaking speech in New Hampshire a few weeks back where she stated, “We cannot afford to be tired.” And, as always, she is right. I’m tired ― physically, emotionally, in every capacity.
I’m exhausted just contemplating this kid’s Energizer Bunny-like relentless self-promotion.
For example, I work pretty hard on this blog, but I only included a handful of the links that this tireless prodigy of networking included in his post.
But out of fear for the future of our country, I find strength.
I find strength because “Hillary knows that Muslim Americans contribute to our country every day, and believes that America is stronger together – when we lift each other up instead of tearing each other down, and when we work together to solve our biggest challenges.” Hillary Clinton has a vision for my future, and it’s one I believe in. She’s investing in my future, and whether it’s through her Muslim Outreach Director or her standing by our community, she has a plan to stand up for my tomorrow.
So, I’m asking you now. I need you to vote ― not because this is some endorsement, but because my reality is at stake.
No matter what happens, Trump can have carved on his tombstone:
RUINED ZIAD AHMED’S DAY
Here’s a 2014 article about Little Ziad from Mercer Space:
Princeton teens work to change perceptions and prejudice
By Mercerspace – August 22, 2014178
Redefy leaders Lara Strassberg, Ziad Ahmed and Ziyad Khan during a program the group held at the Princeton Public Library on April 5, 2014.
Local teens start Redefy to alter thinking about stereotypes
By Scott Morgan
All too often, some people make assumptions about others based on what they see — on mannerisms, physical characteristics or spiritual beliefs that they use as markers to decide who or what someone really is.
Those kinds of assumptions are often not valid, said Ziad Ahmed, a 14-year-old rising sophomore at Princeton Day School who has made it his mission to try and change those perceptions.
For example, just because a young man cries at movies doesn’t mean he’s effeminate, Ahmed said.
You know, this particular topic sure seems to come up a lot in Ziad’s pronouncements …
More importantly, even if an assumption is correct and he really is effeminate, that word itself is an outdated social construct; one tiny aspect of a much more complex human being.
Maybe Ziad’s dad has been hinting that unless his son butches up his act a little, he won’t leave the family hedge fund to him?
A big part of running a hedge fund is insinuating into billionaires’ heads the worry that if they don’t risk a hundred million with you, they aren’t real men like you are.
Here’s the masculinity level you want in a hedge fund salesman:
But here’s what the Ahmed family has to work with in their scion:
I can imagine Ziad making a lot of money in life off various scams, but running a hedge fund is the most lucrative one of all. And his dad may be worried that his otherwise energetic, articulate, and ambitious son may not quite have what it takes in the masculinity department to pull off convincing billionaires that they are wimps unless they pay him 2/20 to take their money off their hands.
Ahmed said he believes he has figured out what matters and what doesn’t about people, and may have found the roots of why so many problems exist between people. In no uncertain terms, Ahmed wants to erase as much of the intolerance, stereotypes and assumptions as he can.
To that end, Ahmed founded an organization called Redefy in 2013, the mission of which is to “boldly defy stereotypes, embrace acceptance and tolerance, redefine our perspectives positively, and create an active community.”
On the surface, Redefy may look like a simple online repository of personal stories about overcoming ignorance, hate and insensitivity, but the stories collected at Redefy.org are not idealistic musings, they are stunningly philosophical essays about the meaning of identity and how people see themselves and others.
The difference between Redefy and many of the other anti-stereotype organizations out there is that this one is operated by and for kids. …
Most people can understand overt slurs and epithets, but Redefy’s mission isn’t about bullying, it’s about fixing the way people perceive others, Ahmed said. Particularly the perceptions they don’t even realize they have.
Consider, for example, what the word equality means, he said. Until a few decades ago, the connotation had to do with civil and legal rights that would make everyone equal in all ways to straight white men.
But are straight white males really equal to other people, Ahmed asks. For example, women can wear skirts, slacks, jeans, blouses, jewelry, or pretty much anything else and it’s seen as OK, but men don’t get the same leeway.
The point, Ahmed said, is that males often fear expressing their individuality because the perception of a guy who wears, say, something pink or who doesn’t like football or who doesn’t feel the need to prove manliness by putting himself in harm’s way is usually derogatory.
Boys, he said, are afraid of standing out among other boys, and as they age, they turn into men who feel they can’t express themselves without someone mocking them or drawing conclusions about aspects of their personalities that don’t really matter. Ultimately, it’s the boys themselves who perpetuate these issues because they have bought into some social construct of gender roles and identity.
Last year I asked:
But will black people put up with nonblacks horning in on the benefits, such as getting into Stanford, just because they claim membership in the Coalition of Fringes? Or is that a little too much cultural appropriation?
Things aren’t much better for the girls. Ahmed said he recently spoke to a girl at his school who said she wanted a boyfriend who was at least six feet tall.
He asked her why, and she said she wanted to be able to look up into his eyes. Which sounds sweet on the surface, but the conversation led Ahmed to believe that the girl basically wanted to be looked down on. Made smaller. Made the one to be protected, not be herself. In other words, she willingly is looking to be, in some measure, less than her (eventual) boyfriend, said Ahmed.
He added that the overall point he is trying to make is that males and females buy into prescribed roles that make it hard for anyone who doesn’t fit into them to feel comfortable about who they are. And that we’re defining ourselves in all the wrong ways.
“People are so much more multi-dimensional than one thing,” he said. “It’s OK to be whoever you are.” …
Ahmed’s urge to help and break through preconceived notions is the most fundamental part of him. Being Muslim, he has had to deal with the knee-jerk sentiments Americans have about “Arabs,” although he isn’t Arab, but of Bangladeshi descent.
Ahmed’s father, Shikil, is a former investment banker and now runs his own hedge fund called Princeton Alpha, and his mother, Faria, studied electrical engineering but left her job to be a stay at home mom. She is active in the community, including volunteering as a docent at Princeton University Art Museum.
The Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom builds strong relationships between Muslim and Jewish women based on developing trust and respect and ending anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish sentiment.
Her bio reads:
Faria Abedin (Executive Committee-Co-President) earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland and a Master of Science in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins University. Most recently, Faria has started a property management business. She currently serves on the board of the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity, Princeton Girlchoir, Stuart Parent Association, Advisory board of Muslim Advocates and as a docent at the Princeton University Art Museum.
Faria is very interested in engaging in efforts that promote an American Muslim identity for our youth, which for her includes interfaith dialogue.
That got me wondering whether Ziad might be related through his mother Faria Abedin to Hillary’s right hand gal Huma Abedin.
But Faria Abedin is not the name of any of Huma’s siblings, so a familial relationship (if any) wouldn’t be all that close. But Huma is said to have 54 first cousins, so I wouldn’t rule out Faria Abedin being related to Huma in some fashion. But there’s no evidence for it beyond surname, and Islamic surnames tend to be repetitious.
Or no evidence other than this picture of Ziad and Huma that Ziad tweeted.
But like I said, there aren’t a lot of unique names in Islamic cultures, so this could just be a coincidence.
… Ahmed said that being Bangladeshi, even though he was born in Princeton, people sometimes assume that he either doesn’t speak English or pelt him with perceptions that his familial homeland is a gaping slum. He visits Bangladesh every few years and assures people that the whole country isn’t mired in abject destitution.
Of course, if any familial homeland could be described as a Gaping Slum, it’s Bangladesh. But as T.S. Eliot would ask, “After such knowledge, what forgiveness?”
One person who assumed he would not speak English was a young lady he met on a July trip to Costa Rica, where he helped build a recreation center in a poor area. The girl’s surprise gave him the opportunity to convert one more young mind to his lesson that making assumptions of any kind is not a good approach.
As for the future, Ahmed said that whatever his major in college, he’ll minor in social justice. From third grade he wanted to be an architect and even went to Oxford University in eighth grade to do an architecture program. Part of his reason for going to Costa Rica was to get some practical building knowledge. But lately Ahmed is thinking other thoughts than architecture. Maybe business.
“After I get my business degree, the world’s mine,” he said. But he also knows he’ll change his mind again before he gets to college.
Whatever he becomes as an adult, he’s sure of two things — he wants a better world for his children so that they can grow up comfortable and safe in who they are, and he is going to do something great.
“I don’t want to be mediocre,” he said.
As for the rest of you peons …