A.J. Ali is a film producer, author and the founder and CEO of L.O.V.E. Is the Answer, a novel and short film which has the mission to help end the division between police officers and minority communities. (Photo by Facebook/A.J. Ali)

By Marnita Coleman,
Special to the AFRO

A movement dedicated to bridging the racial divide between police officers and minority communities is sweeping the country. 

Native Washingtonian, A.J. Ali, a journalist and filmmaker, is using film and faith to address racial tension across the country with his documentary “Walking While Black: L.O.V.E. Is the Answer.”

The film features interviews with peace officers, faith leaders, educators, activists, and others, who expose racism and the ignorance behind it in an undeniable way. The documentary has given way to reconciliation in people’s hearts and offers an inspiring example of how unity can be promoted by the church community.

“I tell stories,” Ali said confidently. 

It all began in 2012 when Ali, at age 48, was stopped by a police officer for walking in his Howard County, Md. community. Unfortunately, it was a recurring scene that happened to him at least two dozen times during his life just because of the color of his skin. The incident started with one police officer and escalated into three police officers. 

Ali sat on the side of the road, thinking he would die there.

No longer turning the other cheek, Ali committed to taking action. “That’s when I decided to make the film,” sai the filmmaker, who has made other films and television shows, including a television show in Baltimore called ‘Good Fellas of Baltimore’ on Fox.

Since the initial launching of the film in 2017, Ali has seen miracles in relationships among people that literally hated one another. He has witnessed the change first hand, and said many showing often end with viewers hugging each other and apologizing 90 minutes after watching the film. Yet, he remained discontent in his heart because he wanted to retaliate against the officers that detained him. 

Ali felt “God telling him, to change the hearts of police or anyone else, you have to let go of the fear, frustration, anger, and pain, and you have to love on them.“

The bigger purpose of love inspired him to use the film as a tool of reconciliation to bring unity to a racially divided faith community.

Data shows that as many as 87 percent of Christian churches in the United States are completely made up of only White or African-American parishioners.

Today, Ali, the 2022 Joseph R. Biden Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, is ambitiously launching the ‘L.O.V.E. is the Answer “ church challenge.”

The acronyms are action steps that bring people together. Specifically, “L.O.V.E.” stands for: learn about others, open your heart to their needs, volunteer to be part of the solution in their lives, and empower others to do the same. 

Ali believes that when the first three steps are taken, it will inspire others to follow the example and help to overcome their differences.

The “L.O.V.E. is the Answer” church challenge invites Black and White churches to partner and watch the “Walking While Black: L.O.V.E. is the Answer” film, and have an open conversation about it. 

The challenge encourages churches to start a book club by reading the “L.O.V.E. is the Answer” book, with readers sharing their thoughts respectfully, and then, serving the community together in some capacity. 

The kick-off began on Jan. 1, and ends with a nationwide celebration of reconciliation on Sept. 17, which is L.O.V.E. is the Answer Day.

According to Ali, his organization is donating lifetime licenses of their film to the first 100 churches that commit to the ‘L.O.V.E. is the Answer” church challenge before April 1. 

Each lifetime license is valued at $1,295. The organization will also give away $2,000 to one of their team members who participate in virtual questions and answers, following an in-person or virtual film screening. Also, they are providing other perks like free coaching to enhance the experience of the challenge.

To start the book club, churches need to purchase a minimum of 10 “L.O.V.E. is the Answer” texts, at $30 through this link: https://trylovenow.com/read-the-book/.

Help us Continue to tell OUR Story and join the AFRO family as a member –subscribers are now members!  Join here!