Mahershala Ali is reaching new heights in his career thanks to his Oscar winning role as Juan in the the hit movie Moonlight. With more roles on the way and an appearance in Jay Z’s much anticipated 4:44 project, he’s sure to continue his success in the near future. However, despite his star status, he is still conscious of himself as a Black Muslim in America.
In an interview with GQ magazine, Ali talked about his experiences being racially profiled: “those experiences that you have from age 10, when you start getting these little messages that you are something to be feared,” he said. He gives examples of people hiding their rings when he entered the subway train, as well as other uncomfortable encounters. “Walking down the street in Berkeley,” he continued “and some cops roll up on you and say straight up, ‘Give me your ID,’ and you’re like, ‘What the fuck?’”
Ali also gives his take on Black people’s relationship to the U.S. “I think African-Americans have a very convoluted relationship with patriotism,” he said, “The fact is, we essentially were the abused child. We still love the parent, but you can’t overlook the fact that we have a very convoluted relationship with the parent. I absolutely love this country, but like so many people have some real questions and concerns about how things have gone down over the years and where we’re at. And that’s from a place of love, because I want the country to be what it says it is on paper.”
Ali goes on to talk about how his name alone also singles him out in many ways. After September 11th, it even landed him on a terrorist watch list. “They would be like, ‘Yeah, your name matches the name of a terrorist,’ ” he previously told Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “I was like, ‘What terrorist is running around with a Hebrew first name and an Arabic last name? Who’s that guy?’”
You can check out Ali’s full interview here to find out how he’s taking on his new position and what motivates him to move forward.