News Brief

This Teen Wrote #BlackLivesMatter 100 Times on His Stanford College Essay and Got Accepted

Ziad Ahmed gained admission into Stanford University after writing '#BlackLivesMatter' 100 times on his college application statement.

"What matters to you and why?"


This was the question posed to Bangladeshi-American teen, Ziad Ahmed for his Stanford University college essay. His answer was simple, but it couldn't have been any more substantive. Ahmed wrote the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter 100 times, and submitted his application.

He received an admission letter from the school last Friday.

"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."

The 18 year-old, who is currently a senior at Princeton Day School in New Jersey, shared the news of his acceptance via twitter, with a screenshot of his statement.

The student told Mic, that his Muslim faith is what informs his activism. For him, the two go hand in hand.

"To me, to be Muslim is to be a BLM ally, and I honestly can't imagine it being any other way for me," he 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."

His dedication to social progress has already taken him pretty far, he gave a TEDx Talk in 2015 about the power of youth activism. He also interned for the Clinton campaign.

Aside from his admission into Stanford, he's also been accepted to Princeton and Yale.

The teen explained why his statement needed no further elaboration beyond the use of the hashtag. "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, 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."

If teens like Ahmed are the leaders of tomorrow, then, in the buoyant words of Kendrick Lamar, "we gon' be alright."

 

Interview
Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.