Source: Huffington Post
Actor Mahershala Ali brings diversity to this year’s Academy Awards in two vital ways. He’s a black actor at an awards show that’s been heavily criticized for being #sowhite, and he’s Muslim, part of a religion that is often vilified and exploited in Hollywood.
In an interview in the Radio Times, Ali spoke out the struggles of occupying this specific intersection of race and religion in America. Although these identities make his presence so important at the Academy Awards, being a black Muslim man out in the real world often means you’re a target for multiple kinds of bigotry.
The “Moonlight” actor, who converted to Islam when he was 25 years old, told the magazine that he isn’t shocked by Islamophobia ― as a black man, he already knows what it feels like to be a victim of discrimination.
“If you convert to Islam after a couple of decades of being a black man in the U.S., the discrimination you receive as a Muslim doesn’t feel like a shock. I’ve been pulled over, asked where my gun is, asked if I’m a pimp, had my car pulled apart,” Ali said in the interview. “[Some] Muslims will feel like there’s this new discrimination that they hadn’t received before – but it’s not new for us.”
Ali also spoke about how his wife, Amatus Sami-Karim, the daughter of an imam, stopped wearing a head scarf because “she had so many bad experiences. She didn’t feel safe anymore.”