Award-winning actor Mahershala Ali is the face of the latest issue of GQ magazine.
And trailblazing model Halima Aden graces the cover of Allure‘s July 2017 issue.
Ali and Aden are being celebrated by both publications as pinnacles of American success.
GQ chose to honor Ali with the magazine’s “American issue,” according to GQ writer, Mark Anthony Green.
Allure, meanwhile, deemed Aden the “destroyer of stereotypes” and proclaimed her front cover look — a head scarf, with everything red, white, and blue — as “American beauty” at its finest.
Both Ali and Aden are Muslim, and their all-American covers couldn’t have arrived at a better time.
Because to too many Americans, being Muslim and American aren’t identities that can go hand in hand.
In general, Americans have dramatically skewed perceptions of Islam, which have carved deep cultural divides across the country.
A Pew Research study conducted this year found Americans view Islam more negatively than every other major world religion (and atheism). A survey from 2015 found the majority of Americans believe Muslim values are “at odds” with American ones. These fear-driven attitudes have culminated in wildly inaccurate perceptions of the U.S. Muslim population, which stands at just over 3 million — Americans think that figure is closer to a whopping 54 million.
Polarizing, Islamophobic positions correlate strongly with alarming increases in hate crimes targeting American Muslims, too.
Earlier this week, two horrific incidents affected Islamic communities in the West: A 17-year-old Muslim girl was murdered after leaving a prayer session in Virginia, and a man in a van ran over several people leaving a mosque in north London, screaming, “I want to kill all Muslims,” as he plowed through.
We have to do better. And — believe it or not — doing better truly can start with the magazine covers we see in the checkout aisle.
Can two magazines alone really stomp out Islamophobia? Of course not. But seeing Ali and Aden — trailblazers with many of the same dreams, values, and inspirations as any other American — helps in making a vital point to readers everywhere: Muslims in the U.S. are just as American as anyone else.
“I sincerely believe we have the capacity to actually make this country great,” an optimistic Ali explained about overcoming injustice in his GQ interview. “There are enough people, there are enough believers out there, there are enough intelligent, empathetic souls out there that want good for the whole.”