BACK OF THE YARDS — When Chakena Perry thinks about Malik Alim, she will’t assist however take into consideration his smile.
There are many qualities about Alim — like his willpower, loving nature and energy — that Perry mentioned involves thoughts when she thinks of him, however his smile stands out.
Perry mentioned she final noticed that smile gentle up a room on June 30 at a board assembly for Chicago Votes, a company that works to get youthful generations to battle for political change. Alim had just lately grow to be a director on the Chicago Votes Motion Fund board. Perry is board president.
“He got here [to the meeting] on a motorcycle, and, although he was sizzling and sweaty, he sat down and mentioned, ‘I’m comfortable to be right here. Let’s get to work,’” Perry mentioned.
When Alim got here into the room, Perry mentioned the dynamic of the assembly modified.
“We now have enjoyable with everybody at Chicago Votes, however when Malik got here, the enjoyable elevated,” Perry mentioned. “We will get the work finished, get to enterprise and be severe, however there’s additionally this facet of getting enjoyable. That was certainly one of my favourite issues about him.”
Alim, 28, died Aug. 20 following a boating accident in Fox Lake, authorities mentioned. He’s survived by his household, together with his life associate, poet Kristiana Rae Colón, his son Orí Tarik and daughter Jari Sanaa.
His demise devastated the a whole lot of Chicagoans he touched via his activism and friendship, with social media tributes flooding Twitter and Instagram as those that knew him tried to wrap their heads across the great loss.
Along with his work with Chicago Votes, Alim was a member of the Black Youth Challenge 100, the Chicago Neighborhood Bond Fund, the #LetUsBreathe Collective, Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation, Defund CPD, Metropolis Bureau and extra. Every group is concentrated on neighborhood organizing to battle for social justice and equality.
His capability to battle for advanced points like Black liberation, fairness and restorative justice whereas remaining loving and personable was magical, Perry mentioned. However that was simply how Alim was. He knew learn how to “make it really feel like he was speaking to you and solely you, even when he was speaking to a gaggle of individuals.”
Alim’s neighborhood work was instrumental in passing the Pretrial Equity Act, a law signed in early 2021 that abolished cash bail in Illinois. The laws ensures that folks dealing with legal costs however haven’t been convicted is not going to serve time in jail if they can not afford to pay bail.
“When you may have activists and organizers who dedicate their lives to neighborhood constructing and restorative justice, they’ve a very distinctive method of assembly folks the place they’re,” Perry mentioned. “And he introduced that into each management place. He had this demanding presence about him, however he was additionally simply very sleek. He made folks really feel like they have been beloved and appreciated and heard.”
Tanya Watkins, a pacesetter in Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation, mentioned she’ll always remember his grace.
Facet by aspect, Watkins mentioned she and Alim fought inside their organizations for the Pretrial Equity Act and the Finances for Black Lives, a marketing campaign to redirect cash from county jails to communities to put money into issues that preserve communities protected exterior policing.
With out his dedication, Watkins mentioned the Pretrial Equity Act wouldn’t have handed. And as soon as it did, she mentioned he was able to battle for an additional trigger.
“Instantly after the [Pretrial Fairness Act] handed, he was like, ‘We acquired to maintain going. What’s the subsequent factor?’” Watkins mentioned. “He saved us motivated and actually held us down with love. He might ease tensions and mitigate frustrations and mediate relationships. He fairly often saved folks and saved work with such grace and dignity, and this lovely fearlessness.”
Charles Preston, an activist and author, desires to honor that fearlessness and beauty by incorporating it into his personal life, he mentioned.
“Taking a look at his work, I see what is feasible,” Preston mentioned. “You may concurrently have household, present up in your neighborhood and make them one. Malik is a primary instance of how to try this superbly.”
Preston first met Alim as a fellow member of the Black Youth Challenge 100 in 2015, he mentioned. All through the years, he mentioned he watched Alim develop as an organizer and as a loving father to his youngsters.
“Reflecting on him, I feel he lived a life worthy of reward, and one thing that folks may be happy with,” Preston mentioned. “I positively take a look at his trajectory as, if there have been a number of males doing what Malik was doing, the world can be an outstanding place to dwell.”
Preston, Watkins and Perry plan to keep up Alim’s legacy by combating for the problems he believed in — and by being true to themselves.
“We now have to be the those that we declare to be, and Malik embodied that,” Watkins mentioned.
Preston mentioned he hopes others are motivated to step up and get entangled following this tragedy.
“I feel shedding warriors in social justice like Malik can activate folks to go tougher for his or her metropolis, and assume that, if Malik might do it, I can do it.”
Damon Williams, Colón’s brother, mentioned he’s devoted to making sure Alim’s youngsters know the way a lot he beloved them, Williams mentioned.
“He was the very best father that I knew,” Williams mentioned. “He was the best instance I’ve seen of loving, nurturing and caring for each a boy and a lady. He made working onerous to handle [his family] look easy and it’ll have a lifelong affect.”
Alim was a “passionate” man, Williams mentioned. He had a ardour for storytelling, touring and attempting new crafts. He was brave.
His ardour and braveness shined the brightest when he was together with his household, Williams mentioned.
“He was somebody I might all the time flip to when issues have been probably the most troublesome or when there was a wrestle,” Williams mentioned. “He was very current and dedicated and honorable, notably when issues have been troublesome or uncomfortable. He had such a willingness to point out up.
“Watching the way in which he took care of his household was one thing that related us. And he took nice care of Kristiana.”
The grieving Colón was not interviewed for this piece, however shared this tribute to Alim with Block Membership:
“Malik beloved his daughter Jari Sanaa and his son Orí Tarik greater than something. He beloved his canine Nima, his siblings, and his dad and mom.
Malik beloved constructing issues, from his son’s mattress to our household compost bin to sturdy neighborhood relationships and establishments.
Malik beloved using his bike, cooking meals for his household, writing raps, and wrapping us in his love.
Malik believed one other world is feasible: a world the place we dismantle militarism, capitalism, and carceral methods.
Malik believed that the connection to a different individual is the smallest unit of organizing, and his intentional connections have weaved a mighty tapestry of household and neighborhood throughout Chicago and the nation.
Malik beloved me and was a associate to me like no different being I’ve encountered on this lifetime.
Malik held our hearts tenderly and cared for us together with his complete soul. His affect and legacy are immeasurable.”
Malik’s memorial service will likely be held 11 a.m. Saturday on the Islamic Basis of Villa Park, 300 W. Highridge Street. The burial will likely be at Oak Woods Cemetery, 1035 E. 67th St. The service will happen outdoor, and all attendees are requested to put on a masks.
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