Go Back to Where You Came From And Other Helpful Recommendations on How to Become American, with Wajahat Ali

This week an extended conversation with award-winning playwright, commentator, and author Wajahat Ali discusses his new memoir, Go Back to Where You Came From and Other Helpful Recommendations on How to Become an American. A conversation that begins with a cathartic venting and involves lots of laughter dives into the challenges and choices Ali has made over the last twenty years to tell stories that expand the idea of what it means to be American today.

I discovered my superpower in fifth grade
As Wajahat Ali cracks jokes and makes light of the challenges he faced growing up as a self-described husky-wearing kid who struggled with weight and confidence – he shares how discovering his gift at story-telling felt like a secret superpower.

My audience is global
Ali’s audience is not his ethnic or religious community – in his view, he’s built a global following because he tells the stories from his cultural and religious experiences not in spite of them. As pop culture has shifted to tell more diverse stories, Ali is excited to see the emergence of new voices and suggests that the backlash against diversity will not deter the momentum because of the demand in the market.

Some Muslims are surprised to hear I’m religious
In this closing segment, Ali shares his own spiritual journey and how his outspoken support for progressive policies has led some to think he is not a practicing Muslim. Between the laughs and jokes, it’s clear that Ali’s refusal to remain silent on some issues has provoked hostility among his own faith community as well as those who see him as a threat.

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