IMAN Artist Kelly Crosby Wages Beauty

During the last week of Ramadan, IMAN Roster Artist and Sacred Cypher Creative, Kelly Crosby brought her concept of “Waging Beauty” to life during her artist residency. Kelly’s residency—the first at IMAN focused on visual arts—hosted a workshop during IMAN’s Refresh The Hood engagement at our social enterprise initiative in Englewood. Community members, who often have limited access to opportunities for formal artistic expression, worked intimately with Kelly to create art on reusable grocery bags.

Later that evening, Kelly held a sneaker art workshop at the Hip Hop Theater Festival in partnership with Kuumba Lynx. One participant, an aspiring fashion designer, stated that she had never had an opportunity like this, and that it inspired her to explore other creative forms of expression.

Kelly’s residency also engaged IMAN leaders during an intergenerational “Paint ‘N’ Iftar” gathering that included glazing ceramics and a discussion on bringing beauty to neglected public spaces, and also engaged staff during a Group Art Technique training focused on helping participants infuse artistic expression into their work.

Kelly was invited to share sentiments about Waging Beauty and her Sacred Cypher Creative journey during an interview with Radio Islam. She concluded her residency at IMAN’s Annual Community Iftar, where she shared her creative process during a live art demonstration in front of hundreds of guests.

“My personal artistic motto is taken from the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). ‘Allah is beautiful and loves beauty.’ So, I consider myself a beauty maker. Beauty is necessary to fight those committed to the ugly states of injustice, oppression and despair. I call my work ‘Waging Beauty’ for these reasons.” – Kelly Crosby

IMAN, The Warriors & A Deep Bench

When I left Chicago six years ago and moved to Oakland to serve as General Counsel and Vice President for the Golden State Warriors, I never imagined that we’d win three NBA championships in such a short amount of time.

Beyond good fortune and some extraordinary players, that success is a testament to our team’s deep bench – an effort that I’ve been blessed to be a part of over the years. “Strength in Numbers” is more than just our slogan, it is a mindset that is central to our success both on and off the court.

When I first got involved with IMAN as a hip-hop artist in 2003, few would have predicted that 15 years later it would grow into one of the most dynamic American-Muslim led grassroots organizations of its kind. Cultivating a “deep bench” of up and coming leaders is among the most impressive, and indeed necessary, accomplishments of the IMAN model over the last 20 years. With a chapter in Atlanta and collaborations across the country, IMAN is now celebrated as a nationally relevant model – one that many of us have helped to build and one whose accomplishments we should all take pride in.

If you’ve been reading the powerful emails from IMAN over Ramadan and keeping up with the ongoing challenges in our urban centers like Chicago and Atlanta, you know that IMAN’s work and reach must continue to grow and deepen to fully reach both the urgent need and its dynamic potential. Supporting their ‘Off the List, On the Love’ Ramadan Fundraising Drive is the perfect way to do that.

David Kelly
General Counsel and VP, Basketball Management & Strategy
Golden State Warriors

Double Your Love

There is a certain type of love at IMAN. We can feel it among the young men in Green ReEntry who genuinely understand that our case workers, instructors and counselors desire nothing from them other than their utmost success. We can feel it among families who, when visiting our health center, experience the care, concern and compassion that they would only receive in the living rooms of their closest care takers. We can feel it in the passion of the leaders who build and drive IMAN campaigns addressing food deserts and mass incarceration.

And we’ve undoubtedly felt your love. As support from hundreds of individuals and families across the country has poured in during this year’s Ramadan Drive, your contributions have helped us get more people on that powerful, transformative and prophetic love that we all hunger and thirst for.

We are enormously grateful for the ongoing generosity of a family that has continuously stepped up to double your love. In these last ten days of Ramadan, they will match your donations, dollar for dollar. Please donate generously to help us reach and exceed IMAN’s ‘Off The List, On The Love’ Ramadan Drive goal.

During this sacred month, we’ve shared with you the vulnerabilities of so many of our people—those placed on waiting lists for desperately needed services, on poverty indices that strip them of their dignity and on arbitrary registries that perpetually criminalize them. We’ve shared with you our vision for getting people “off the lists and on the love,” and our commitment is to continue fighting until no one is left on lists that shouldn’t exist.

They Murdered My Father, His Dreams Live On

Six months ago, I received the worst call of my life informing me that my father had been shot and killed in his car.

I hadn’t even made it to the hospital before I heard word on the street and on social media about who was going to be killed in retaliation for my father’s death. His funeral was filled with police officers. A police helicopter even followed us all the way to the gravesite and hovered over us as we put my father’s body into the ground.

Yes, my father was a known leader of a street organization, but he was also a man who wanted the best for his family. He beamed with pride when I told him I had been accepted into IMAN’s Green ReEntry program, which would teach me a trade, help me develop life skills and give me the chance to rebuild vacant and vandalized homes. After my father was murdered, I knew that if I didn’t leave Chicago, I would get sucked into the cycle of violence that he had wanted me to avoid.

My Green ReEntry case worker advocated for me to get out of Chicago, and I spent two weeks in an exchange program with the second cohort of Green ReEntry participants at IMAN Atlanta. The Atlanta team greeted me with the love I needed at that time. They housed, fed, and engaged me from the moment I got off the plane.

I felt so grateful, but also a little guilty. I knew how many more people like me needed the same love and opportunity I had received. A close friend of mine had also fled from Chicago to Atlanta after violent circumstances put his life at risk. He was frustrated by the lack of opportunities for growth and development, so I asked the IMAN Atlanta team if he could join the Green ReEntry program. My friend not only graduated from the program two months ago, but was offered a job connected to the program due to his high performance.

I am not Muslim and knew nothing about Muslims growing up, but I’ve taken the opportunity to fast several days alongside my brothers and sisters at IMAN this Ramadan. Two days ago, I broke my fast in Atlanta with Dr. Sherman Jackson and a beautiful group of people who came out to support IMAN’s ‘Off The List, On The Love’ Ramadan Drive. I was blown away by the fact that IMAN is not only do amazing things with health, re-entry, organizing and the arts in Chicago, but now also has a full model with amazing people growing in Atlanta.

My experience with IMAN has changed the entire course of my life and, as I prepare for my own Green ReEntry graduation this November, I hope to take the skills I’ve learned to the next level and earn an electrical engineering degree. However, I am still very worried about my younger siblings as we approach the hot, violent summer months. My 19-year-old brother is one of the 187 people on the Green ReEntry waiting list desperately trying to get into the program. I believe that this may be one of the only real chances my brother has to start on the path towards success that my father dreamed of for his children.

I am calling on all of you to help us reach and exceed our ‘Off The List, On The Love’ Ramadan Drive goal. Your tax-deductible and zakat-eligible donations are critical, so more people like my brother can get off the list and on the path where the love, blessings and beauty of our community will provide him with everything he needs to succeed.

Much Love,