OK so by now you have probably heard about the 14-year-old in Irving, Texas, who was arrested cause he is a fucking genius who built a goddamn clock out of circuit boards and wanted his teachers to be proud of him but instead they were racist at him and he got hauled off by the fucking cops WHO ALSO THINK HE IS SOME KIND OF TERRORIST cause of course a brown-skinned Muslim boy had invented a bomb and not a clock. Jesus wept.
So when I was a… junior… I think who can remember 15 years ago but let’s say a junior in high school, I worked at a seafood restaurant in Philly. I bussed tables. At this place, if it was your birthday we’d stick a sparkler in your dessert because nothing says “congrats for not dying” like something shooting hot sparks in your face while a bunch of waiters sing you Happy Birthday while thinking about how much their ties smell like clam chowder.
Anyway, I used to steal the sparklers. (Lawyers: anyone know the statue of limitations on this? If anyone asks my account was hacked.) Like, not a few sparklers. The boxes came in shrink-wrapped bricks of like… 12 or 15 boxes or something. So I’d wrap brick up in my salmony apron at the end of the night and take it home, and then to school. My friend Chris and I would play with them on the lawn during lunch. We’d just, burn them. Like in big clumps or patterns or whatever. (I went to a public magnet school in North Philly. As long as we didn’t wander off the property they didn’t pay much attention to us.)
So Chris had a couple “extra” lockers at school, meaning unused ones that he stuck his own locks on. In one of those, he stashed probably 50 or 60 of the empty sparkler boxes, plus pictures he had taken of us when we’d discovered a way down into the sub-basement of the school, a wonderland of decades-old graffiti and flying red cockroaches the size of a Twinkie.
For some reason — which I have no knowledge of whatsoever nope not at all — one of the vice-principals had it out for Chris. He found out about one of Chris’s extra lockers and had his student aides go cut off the lock and confiscate the stuff.
So I get out of second period or whatever and one of my friends is like “hey Chris got yanked out of class and has been in the disciplinarian’s office.” So after I shit my pants and got cleaned up, I headed to third period where I was promptly also yanked out of class. Turns out taking pictures of yourselves doing things that are probably against the rules (even though like three wasn’t an ACTUAL rule against going in the sub-basement) is not smart.
So we’re in the disciplinarian’s office and they are grilling us “what are the sparklers for blah blah” and I was like, “well we just play with them.” And he was like “are you making bombs and putting them in the sub-basement?” and we were likem “WHAT that’s not even poss— WHAT?”
This guy, the disciplinarian, explains how to make a bomb with sparklers.
HE FUCKING TOLD US HOW.
And then we got a week’s detention.
And that, my friends, is institutional racism. Two white boys in Philly can bring actual bomb-making materials into school and get detention AND A BOMB-MAKING LESSON, but one brown kid named Ahmed Mohamed can’t build a fucking clock without some assclown teacher who’s watched too many episodes of 24 getting him fucking arrested.