Society

Stanford Offer For 100 'Black Lives Matter' Application

| by Sarah Zimmerman

A young man has been accepted to Stanford University after writing "Black Lives Matter" 100 times on his application.

In response to the question "What matters to you, and why?" Ziad Ahmed, an 18-year-old Muslim New Jersey high school senior, wrote "#BlackLivesMatter" 100 times without additional comment. He received his acceptance letter March 31. 

"I was actually stunned when I opened the update and saw that I was admitted," Ahmed told Mic. "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 is heavily involved in the activism world, Mercury News reports. He was awarded a place among MTV's Top 9 Teens Changing the World in 2015 and named one of Business Insider's Top 15 "young prodigies" in 2016. He is also the founder of Redefy, an organization that uses social media to combat bias and stereotypes. 

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Ahmed posted his acceptance letter, along with his response to Stanford's essay prompt, on Twitter on April 1. His tweet quickly went viral and, as of April 5, had over 7,000 likes and 3,000 retweets. 

Ahmed has also been accepted to Yale University and Princeton University, but it is unclear what he wrote in his application essays to those schools.

The high school senior tells Mic that his answer was meant to make a statement, but he does consider it to be a form of protest or activism. 

"As an ally of the black community ... 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, I wanted to make a statement," he said.

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Ahmed's Twitter announcement led to mixed reactions. Many users congratulated the young man for his getting accepted. His tweet was also retweeted by the police reform organization Campaign Zero, according to Mic. 

Others took issue with the fact that Ahmed refused to justify his response. Katherine Timpf, a reporter for the conservative National Review, wrote a response to the news, saying that "being proud of non-answer answers is an absurd way to approach life."

"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," she writes. "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."

Ahmed believes he did not need to justify his response, as to do so would be "dehumanizing" to people of color.  

"The insistence on an explanation is inherently dehumanizing," he told Mic. "Black lives have been explicitly and implicitly told they don’t matter for centuries, and as a society -- it is our responsibility to scream that black lives matter because it is not to say that all lives do not matter, but it is to say that black lives have been attacked for so long, and that we must empower through language, perspective and action."

Sources: Mic, Mercury News, National Review / Photo credit: Ziad Ahmed/Facebook

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