As a New York Times contributing op-ed writer, highly sought-after political commentator, TED speaker, and award-winning playwright, Wajahat Ali is undoubtedly a jack-of-all-trades. But across his many roles, one thing remains constant: Ali uses his platform to fight tirelessly for the social change we need in our country—and he isn’t afraid to get personal while doing it. His upcoming memoir Go Back to Where You Came From: And Other Helpful Recommendations on How to Become American (Fall 2021) will share stories, both hilarious and poignant, of Ali’s experience growing up a Muslim Pakistani-American in an effort to inspire a new vision of America’s multicultural identity.
When his two-year old daughter’s battle with liver cancer took him on an unexpected and devastating journey through the U.S. medical system, Ali wrote about it with his signature candor and openness for the New York Times: “A crisis like cancer helps us answer the question: What truly matters when we are stripped overnight of our comfort, wealth, and plans?” As the coronavirus pandemic and recession poses a similar question to millions of people across the country, Ali offers his experience as a beacon of hope and resilience in the face of an impossible situation. Above all else, Ali is living proof that we can use our authentic stories—whatever they may be—to build the America we wish to live in.
Ali is also the author of The Domestic Crusaders—the first major play about Muslim Americans post-9/11— as well as the Peabody-nominated producer of the documentary series The Secret Life of Muslims. He was the lead researcher and author for the Center for American Progress’s seminal report “Fear Inc., Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” and served as a national correspondent for Al Jazeera America. There, Ali told stories of communities and individuals often marginalized or under-reported in mainstream media.
Previously, as Creative Director of Affinis Labs, Ali worked to create social entrepreneurship initiatives to support and uplift marginalized communities. He also worked with the US State Department to design and implement the “Generation Change” leadership program to empower young social entrepreneurs. Ali initiated chapters in eight countries, including Pakistan and Singapore. For his work, he was honored as a “Generation Change Leader” by Sec. of State Clinton and recognized as an “Emerging Muslim American Artist” by the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Ali has given keynote speeches around the world such as TED, The Aspen Ideas Festival, Google, the United Nations, and The New Yorker Festival. His writing appears regularly in the New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and The Guardian.