31, Washington, DC
Most hated stereotype:That we are menacing.
Six feet tall, brown-skinned, with dreadlocks, this Piscataway, NJ native has an idea about what people may think of him upon first glance.
“I’m a brown man with dreads,” Ali says. “The image of such a man has gone from weed smoking Jamaican mystic to the pseudo-deep, ultra-black power hipster to Lil Wayne-esque homoerotic thug. Depending on the judge, I’m assumed to be one of the three.”
But that’s only if their interaction with him ends with that glance.
The vegetarian, entrepreneur and Hampton University graduate who works in marketing and web design has secret dreams of being a Freedom Fighter.
“A lot of my heroes were freedom fighters. There’s something admirable about doing what’s right even in the face of impending doom,” Ali says. “Malcolm did it. Mandela did it. And in a completely different way, Buddha (Siddhartha) gave his life so we all could free ourselves from ourselves.”
Social consciousness came to Ali when he was a tween, specifically during an impromptu Sunday school speech. Instead of leading the morning prayer as requested, Ali gave a speech linking current events and lessons learned in Sunday School the previous week.
“Everyone was astounded and I didn’t think I did anything special. I have a great mind, but only when I’m not thinking.”
A bit shy around those who don’t know him – very loquacious and opinionated around those who do – Ali’s current goal is to take his thoughts from casual conversation and debates with friends to book form. He counts finishing his soon to be published urban fiction book “I Live” as the proudest moment in his life.
Through his work mentoring youth and thoughtful observances on his blog, maybe being a 21st century freedom fighter isn’t out of the question.
Why do you hate the stereotype that all black people are menacing?
Because it makes us seem less human. Raccoons are menacing, not people.
Why did you decide to become a vegetarian?
Meat is murder! I say that as I sit on my leather sofa with my feet on my leather Ottoman. Although I am a bit of a hypocrite, I do believe that it’s unnecessary to slaughter animals for food since there’s an abundance of plant life that can be easily harvested. It’s better for your body and the environment. Save the planet… it’s the only one you have!