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‘I Want Justice’: San Marcos HS student galvanizes local youth to condemn systemic racism

San Marcos HS student speaks out
Shakir Ahmad speaks in an Instagram video, decrying racial injustice and police brutality against black Americans.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - As protests against racial injustice continue nationwide and at home, San Marcos High School student Shakir Ahmad decided he was not going to stay quiet.

He joined Sunday's Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Santa Barbara, but for him, that wasn't enough.

“There’s just a lot on my mind,” he said Monday. “I just wanted to get my thoughts on paper and I wrote it out."

The end result was a video Ahmad posted on Instagram this week, where he uses poetic verses to condemn systemic racism and police brutality in American society. The video ends with Ahmad himself and 33 other students saying 'I Want Justice.'

Ahmad had asked others who want to speak out against racial injustice to send him that message.

“I sent the message to my basketball team, my [Black Student Union], my classmates and just put it on my [Instagram] story,” Ahmad said. “I got like about 30-something responses. Like, from all those people that listened. And some people I didn’t even know. They just wanted to tell me that, ‘I feel the same way as you and I want my voice to be heard.’”

Ahmad was already working to educate and empower youth in the Santa Barbara area. He has spoken to local elementary school students about discrimination, and helped form a black student union at San Marcos.

He says the black student union has already seen students of all races join to learn more about the black community's experiences and struggles.

“The youth is the next generation in this fight,” Ahmad said. “Kids are like, easily persuaded. And so they can hear the wrong things and be hateful without even knowing. So it’s our job to speak to them and give them the right message now, so they can go out and spread that message, too. And so we can have just a better community, for all people of all color and all backgrounds.”

Ahmad stands with a sign reading 'I Want Justice' at Sunday's Black Lives Matter protest in Santa Barbara. (Photo Credit: Steve Kennedy)

Ahmad says he, and most others, do not support looting or destructive protests. He believes protests and activism, however, must continue.

“When we had peaceful protests, what happened?” he said. “Nothing came of that. And now we have violent protests, and nothing’s still coming of that. So whatever we do, it seems like it’s wrong. So we just need to get our voices out and change needs to be made.”

In order to make that happen, Ahmad knows there is more work to be done.

“I can’t take it anymore,” he said. “Just, I’m young. I’m only, like, 16. And I’m really involved in trying to change this. And I know I can’t do much right now, but if I just keep pushing my message and spreading my word to other people, then I think I can make a change.”

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County

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Ryan Fish

Ryan Fish is a reporter, sports anchor and forecaster for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Ryan, click here.


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