Mahershala Ali On The Complicated Relationship African Americans Have With Patriotism

Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.
Mahershala Ali is on the cover of GQ's July issue, and Twitter is shook. The magazine includes plenty of photos of Ali wearing floral prints and enjoying summer: eating a burger, sitting atop a stack of kayaks, and relaxing on the beach.
And while the interview has a positive tone, Ali was candid about race in America. Before becoming an Academy Award-winning actor, Ali says that he was racially profiled while shopping and even placed on a terrorist watch list after 9/11 because of his name.
"I think African-Americans have a very convoluted relationship with patriotism," Ali told GQ's Carvell Wallace. "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."
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Ali isn't losing hope about America's future, though, despite our current political climate.
"I sincerely believe we have the capacity to actually make this country great," the Moonlight star told GQ. "There are enough people, there are enough believers out there, there are enough intelligent, empathetic souls out there that want good for the whole. I don't know if it’ll happen in my lifetime, but I believe in time the pendulum will swing in the right direction."
The actor also told the magazine about why he converted to Islam in 1999.
"It benefits me from the standpoint of really creating empathy for these characters that I try to embody, other human beings with issues as deep and personal as my own. Because of Islam, I am acutely aware that I am a work in progress," Ali told GQ. He also said that religion "puts a healthy pressure on you to be your best self, beginning with your own spirit and how that feeds into your actions."
The full profile is more than worth a read. But fans on Twitter were quick to praise the photos, too. (There are plenty of great options for a new Facebook cover photo or desktop background — we won't judge.)
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