Daniel Ali was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. Growing up in the gritty urban environment of North Jersey during the 70s and 80s wasn't easy. Hanging out on "the block" with his friends while coming from a family of educated professionals, was paradoxical, to say the least, but it proved to be a life advantage many of his peers didn't ha
Daniel Ali was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. Growing up in the gritty urban environment of North Jersey during the 70s and 80s wasn't easy. Hanging out on "the block" with his friends while coming from a family of educated professionals, was paradoxical, to say the least, but it proved to be a life advantage many of his peers didn't have. "I learned the value of having two educations in this life, one in the classroom and one on the streets. That's at the core of who I am today." -Daniel Ali
As a former Corrections Officer in Hudson County, Daniel Ali saw countless numbers of his childhood friends suffer the indignity of incarceration and the staggering residual effects of recidivism. After witnessing, firsthand, the destruction of so many young lives due to the scourge of drugs in the American inner cities and the violence associated with the drug culture, Ali switched his focus to working with the youth in the hopes of helping them to avoid the traps and pitfalls of his generation.
Today Daniel Ali works as a Youth Program Coordinator with the Jersey City Department of Recreation and Youth Development. He is well known in the community for his tireless efforts on behalf of the youth of Jersey City. He interacts daily with at-risk youth in the Black and Latino community and works in connection with other community and political activists to address the socio-economic issues affecting people of color in particular and poor people in general.
Across the Middle is the second novel from Ali in less than two years. His first, Love and the Game, published in June 2020, has achieved tremendous success and has been adapted into a Medium Feature Film, currently showcasing in some of the top Film Festivals around the world. He is also the author of, Learning to be Me, a selection of original poems first published in 2019, illustrated by his nine-year-old daughter, Isabella. He is currently working on several projects including the first "authorized" biography of Jersey City native and multi-platinum recording artist, Cliff Perkins, of the acclaimed music group, Soul Generation. The book is titled Beyond Body and Soul and is scheduled to be published in 2022.
Living and growing up in an environment as diverse and fast-paced as Jersey City is sometimes challenging. It’s easy to get caught up. But I draw strength from it. I know it has made me tougher, more resilient. You have to learn to relate to people of different cultures and backgrounds and you can’t be thin-skinned. If you wear your feel
Living and growing up in an environment as diverse and fast-paced as Jersey City is sometimes challenging. It’s easy to get caught up. But I draw strength from it. I know it has made me tougher, more resilient. You have to learn to relate to people of different cultures and backgrounds and you can’t be thin-skinned. If you wear your feelings on your sleeve, you’ll always be frustrated and upset. And who needs that? I’ve always seen myself as a grassroots person, grounded, rooted in the community, committed to positive and progressive change. But that change has to be inclusive of the people living in the community, and not just those that the current corporate interests have targeted for their own monetary gains. Because “the community” is NOT buildings or infrastructure, it is the people who live, work, and play there. This is a nuance many current day politicians conveniently and routinely ignore.
This is particularly true and important in a city like Jersey City. So, I do my best to stay involved, active, politically, and otherwise as an advocate for the people who are “the community”. I believe that’s why I’m so well received by people of all walks of life when I’m out in the neighborhood, in any part of the city. Especially the places most politicians and preachers would never go without a police escort. On my block, the brothers in the game show mad LOVE. They call me OG. They check for my lithe girl, making sure everything is everything, ALL THE TIME. They greet me with the salutations of peace and acceptance. You know how I got there? I survived the recklessness of my own youth and I don’t separate my life from theirs. Always seeking to draw them up, but never judging or postulating. Understanding that they are not criminals, but victims of a criminal society, the evidence of that being manifested before the entire world on a daily basis as our political and economic leaders struggle to pull the curtain back, hiding the Wizard once again. But the people are waking up now, and the sun is beginning to shine through.
I’m especially interested in reaching the young, particularly the Black and Brown. To try and give them direction before they are corrupted, disillusioned, or pulled to the dark side in the vain lust-filled quest for power and material gain above the principles of integrity, social and community advocacy, and a sense of the oneness of humanity. In my work as a Youth Program Director with the municipal Recreation Department, I try to impact the young in a positive way so that they are aware of the possibilities that exist out there in the world for them. But always stressing their responsibility to stay connected with their roots and to reach back for others as those of us out here today are doing for them. It doesn’t and cannot work any other way and that value must be taught and instilled in order for our community to thrive in this rapidly changing society. I believe the next several years represent the possibility of a great turning point for people of color in this country.
The Trump years and the aftermath that is sure to follow with his re-election bid going down in flames and now President-Elect Joe Biden poised to take the reigns is going to force Black, Brown and Poor people to recognize that the government, as we know it, is NOT a friend of the people. We can no longer look to them to solve our problems when they are the authors of the problem. It is time that WE the people take back our own destiny and no longer look to flaccid politicians and their poliTRICKS, as they pay lip service to the people that elected them while going about the business of actively representing the interests of greedy corporations who are nothing more than the robber barons of the 21st century. There’s a change coming in America and it starts with the community right where you live! Get involved.
I welcome your comments and questions and look forward to sharing together, thoughts, ideas and opinions on all matters of interests.
Your voice, views and thoughts are important to me and needed to begin a healthy dialogue to facilitate effective change in our communities, our state, nation and eventually the world. We can't think the job is too big. It has to start somewhere, why not here with YOU and me?