I like Stephen Amell. I think he’s a social media beast, getting that the key part of it is “social” and interacting with his fans in a way that few celebrities do. From what he allows us to see via his very active Facebook page, he seems like a loving husband, doting father, and generous activist for causes he cares about. I enjoy the show Arrow, and we cover it on the site.
I mention all of this to make sure you understand that I like this actor and his projects, and never had an ill word to speak of him.
And then a little brown Muslim boy was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school.
On Monday, 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed brought a homemade clock to school, hoping to impress his teachers at an Irving, Texas middle school. And even though he said it was a clock, an English teacher reported to the school authorities that it may be a bomb. Ahmed was handcuffed and taken to a Texas juvenile detention center. Authorities said he may be charged with making a ‘hoax bomb.’
Mind you, no one called the bomb squad, the school was not evacuated, school officials handled said ‘hoax bomb’ and even took pictures of it.
But they thought it might be a bomb.
Most of the nation reacted as you would expect rational human beings to respond: They were outraged. They were heartbroken. And some expressed their displeasure and non-surprise that something like this happened in the great state of Texas.
And this did not sit well with Mr. Amell, who took to Twitter to remind everyone that generalizing Texas is just as bad as the school profiling Ahmed as a possible terrorist because he is Muslim.
I’ll let that marinate for a moment.
When people responded to this ridiculous tweet to call him out on how truly ridiculous it was, Amell cited his wife (white woman from Texas), her family and his extended family, and the thousands of Texans he has met (I’m assuming this was at fan events) who were all polite and lovely. Some people who responded to his tweets were blocked, including a writer from The Wrap. I cannot say whether these blocks were warranted as I don’t know the nature of those tweets other than to say they disagreed with him.
Here’s why he just needs to stop:
- Comparing what happened to that little boy with people expressing disgust with Texas is NOT the same. Ahmed was profiled. People made, to Amell’s assumption, sweeping generalizations about Texas. That is NOT the same thing. One act leaves a young boy possibly scarred and humiliated by the people who are supposed to nurture his young mind and protect him while he’s in their care. The other leaves Texans and the people who love them a bit butthurt.
- Amell cited a bunch of people he’s had experiences with as to why Texas didn’t deserve the criticism, but assumed that everyone else was stereotyping or being a hater. Did it not occur to him that some people, like myself, have negative opinions of Texas based on actual experience? Of course this doesn’t mean the whole state is terrible and every person there is racist. But people are allowed to have their own experiences and feelings on events that happen there shape THEIR opinion of the state and how comfortable (or uncomfortable) they’d feel visiting or living there. But somehow, Mr. Amell seems to think only his positive experiences count. Here are some other experiences:
Of course, these things aren’t unique to Texas, but they DID happen in Texas. And to act like it’s so beyond the pale for people of color (or anyone who’s an ally to them and the LGBT community) to have negative feelings towards the state is just naive and dismissive. He thinks people pointing out that Texas has a systemic race problem is profiling, yet there are facts and data (way more than I can link above) to support this.
- “If you’re outraged at an opinion, it’s because you’re bored.” Never mind how condescending that is, but it implies that there’s nothing wrong with what he said and that the rest of us are just sitting on Twitter, waiting to be offended. When he got offended, he tweeted about it and that’s okay. When we got offended by his tweet, we’re bored.
I think it goes without saying that America has a race problem – from its treatment of minorities, the inequality many of them face, to the fact that it can barely be discussed without emotions running high and ruining friendships. No one is saying that Texas is the only state with race issues and no one is saying that people of color should avoid Texas at all costs. What we are saying is that Mr. Amell’s positive experiences aren’t the only ones that matter, and that maybe, just maybe, the people criticizing Texas are basing their feelings on their own experiences and those matter, too. He is also generalizing when he defends the state based on his interactions.
Between this and Matt Damon, I’ve had enough whitemansplaining to last a lifetime.