Friday, September 18, 2015

Dear Ahmed, like you, I was also viewed as the ‘enemy’

You may have heard the story of Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old Dallas student who was arrested after bringing a home-made clock in to show his teacher. They believed it was a bomb, likely because Ahmed Mohamed is a Muslim. Since I don’t know how to reach this young man directly, I thought I’d post a letter to him here.

Dear Ahmed,

I’ve never met you, and it’s quite possible you’ve never heard of me, but my name is George Takei. I am many decades older than you, but your story and your experience – when you were arrested at your school simply because you brought in a clock for your teacher – struck a chord with me. You see, when I was a bit younger than you, I was also viewed by others as ‘the enemy’ and treated as such, simply because I happened to look like the people who had attacked America.

Like you, I was just a kid trying to find his place in the world. I loved my country, and I looked forward to all the opportunities and challenges ahead. But my childhood was interrupted by fear and ignorance. When the authorities came for you because they believed you had built a bomb, I was reminded, in a way, of when the army came for us.

They ordered us out of our home believing we were suspicious people because of our names, our faces, and our ancestry. I spent my childhood in an internment camp because of that fear and ignorance.

But I want you to know, while America may have done a terrible thing to me and my family, and to 120,000 other Japanese Americans, I have great hope for this country, and I believe we do learn. There was a Japanese word we often said in the camps, gaman. It means to keep on keeping on, with dignity and fortitude. I think you understand this word already.

While certain school officials and police officers may have shown you the worst side of our nation, I understand many others have since shown you the best side. I was touched to hear you say that we all have to be true to ourselves.

Ahmed, you are now part of the story of America, and many will learn from your fine example. I see great things ahead for you.

This post originally appeared here.

from The Express Tribune Blog

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