Black History Month: Gen Z Making History His Way

Black History Month: Gen Z Making History His Way (Issa Allison gives a closing speech during a Model UN Awards ceremony.)

Going to an International Baccalaureate school with a lot of diversity, I have had a chance to see many of these changemakers in person. The most notable being Issa Allison, my classmate and friend. 

He and I are both juniors at James S. Rickards High School. I have known him since the 10th grade and he immediately stood out to me. His kind attitude, helpful nature and overall positive spirit motivated me and others around him to be the best we can be at such an academically rigorous school. 

Allison being there as a positive light was extremely refreshing due to the pressure put on us by our academics. But he isn’t just a beacon of hope to me and my classmates, he is also a major changemaker in our community. 

Despite being a full time IB student taking courses such as IB Biology and IB Latin, some of the most challenging courses a high school student could be taking, he has more than 10 leadership positions at our school and is a very active volunteer. His active participation screams dedication to improving our school and making sure it thrives. 

I had the chance to sit down with Allison and talk about his commitment to our community. 

He has demonstrated strong interest in bettering our community, something rare among our youth. 

“I was inspired to start making a difference in my community back in middle school, when I joined the National Junior Honor society,” he said. “seeing the impact of my work made me continue this in high school.”

For young Black people, their unique experiences have served as both a source of strength and a driving force behind their advocacy efforts, fueling their determination to dismantle systemic barriers and amplify marginalized voices. 

“My background makes my work feel more impactful when it directly helps other African Americans; as they don’t expect Black high schoolers to be doing community service of their own volition,” he said.

Behind every successful individual are mentors, role models and influencers who have paved the way and provided guidance. 

“One of my role models is Ananya Mundrathi who was the Key club president of my school two  years ago. She inspired me to continue the leadership aspect of my community service, and to keep pushing myself,” Allison said. “ I hope to keep making an impact by donating/supporting nonprofits and offering incentives for doing service.”

Many young people, especially those who are Black, face complex challenges and may feel overwhelmed by the desire to make a difference. 

He suggests that, “I would tell other young black individuals to not let themselves get discouraged by the opportunities they can help out with, and to start small. Doing small service activities like picking up trash is a great place to start.”  

Allison also elaborated on some challenges he was facing: “one challenge is people's lack of respect in communications, where they think I’m not qualified to be leading them in the service event. I’ve overcome this by explaining to them the purpose behind the overall service event, and reminding them that their job is to serve the community.”

It's no secret that diverse perspectives lead to better outcomes, but that diversity doesn't always happen organically. 

“I balance activism/community service in my day to day life by incorporating it wherever I can,” he said.  “I do this by inspiring promising Black individuals around me to get involved in clubs I’ve fallen in love with like Model United Nations, despite Model UN having little to no Black representation. This gives them an opportunity and helps us break through that barrier.”

He is very passionate about some issues plaguing the Black community today. 

“The most pressing issues are police brutality and lack of self-respect for black youth. Police brutality can only be addressed from a position in government or through movements like Black Lives Matter. Black youth not believing in their own ability leads to them wasting their talents to put themselves in less favorable situations such as gangs. To combat this issue, providing better education finances for black youth will inspire them to keep pushing,” he said.

Allison is one example of countless black youth making a difference in our communities. With their determination and passion, they are shattering stereotypes and inspiring others for the greater good. 

Sehar Sarang is a freelance writer passionate about women's rights, culture and everything pop-related. 

Edited by NaTyshca Pickett

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