We've all been so busy with our lives, following our own storylines, we haven't had our usual family dinners or salons. So as your present to me, I'd love you to share your talents with all of us. Please turn this card over and take this... Inspiration to prepare some sort of creative expression. The idea is to express yourselves. Because that is what sets us free.
Malika and her older brother, Dom, were born to a neglectful mother. They were often hungry, to the point where they dug into couch cushions to try and find change to buy chips at the corner store. At the age of ten, neglect and hunger led to Malika calling social services for help. Malika and Dom were subsequently placed into the foster care system and eventually separated.
Malika was never adopted into a family. Instead, she aged out of the system and became an independent woman. Malika was estranged from her mother until the day she died. Originally living in her car and working a low-paying job, Malika was found by Alice Kwan, who invited her to live at The Coterie as it was safe. However, Malika could only live there under the conditions that she finds a better-paying job in three months and leave if she failed to. Malika did just that and has remained at The Coterie ever since. She also became best friends with Alice.
She is described as, "whip-smart with a penchant for social justice".
Malika is a beautiful young woman in her mid-twenties who embraces her natural beauty. She has black hair, dark brown eyes, and prominent features. She wears loose multiple print clothing and has a tall and athletic physique. She wears heels or boots with minimum accessories.
In The Coterie, Malika is seen DJing at The Coterie's party and socializing with a small group of her friends. She mainly stays to herself, especially staying away from Callie, due to the argument that had that morning about Judge Wilson. Later, her older brother arrives and they make small talk before he tells her that their mom is sick. Malika doesn't believe him due to their mothers' history, and this leads to an argument. Dom believes that they were fine before Malika called social services. He explained that the system didn't treat either of them any better then their mother did. After an argument, Dom tells Malika that she should see their mom before it's too late. She asks him to come over again sometime but he simply says that he doesn't know and leaves.
In Capoeira, Malika and Isaac talk about her hearing tomorrow, but she isn’t worried since her BLM lawyer told her it was routine. Isaac is skeptical after the lawyer’s claim that the DA would back down if she didn’t take the deal, with her reminding him that was her decision. She insists that the reason is in trouble is because of her actions, though he’s still worried. She refuses to let him cancel his business trip.
That afternoon, Malika and Dyonte walk down the street as they chat. They decide to play hopscotch, and they are both pretty good, though Dyonte lands poorly from a roll. They tease one another playfully. They finish picking up the posters for the “#FreeMalika” movement. She is overwhelmed by the sight and begins to panic as she’s scared. He reminds her that they have a team and are powerful enough to fight for her, as she isn’t alone and has to trust them. She knows they can’t promise she’ll stay out of jail. She crouches to the ground emotionally but he assures her they have her back.
That night, and Isaac facetime with her lying that she’s fine. She teases that they should get a bigger bed since he’s so tall, but he proposes the idea of getting a bigger place. She doesn’t want to talk about that over the phone so they exchange I love you's and end their call.
At court the next day, Malika’s lawyer claims that Judge Wilson refuses to press charges which invalidate the prosecution’s case and wants the criminal complaint dismissed. The prosecutor wants to push forward despite this as the law is clear on the matter. She also asks that Malika’s bail be revoked due to her association with BLM deeming her a flight risk. Malika would be taken into custody immediately. The judge refuses to revoke bail but decides to raise it to $250,000 with her being remanded into custody until it can be paid. The bailiff arrests Malika, who remembers her sparring session with Dyonte where he taught her capoeira, a type of self-defense that makes her a difficult opponent and a difficult opponent. She remembers that she can handle things thanks to his speech, and tells him in the court that she’s got this.
In Arraignment Day, Malika is in prison waiting to see her lawyer when Callie enters, having come to see a client. Callie sees Malika, but Shai Haraz, Callie’s client intercepts their meeting. Callie asks her client to wait while she speaks to Malika. Callie asks if Malika needs anything, to which she points out a woman in a jean jacket. She remembers her first night in jail and crying.
BLM walks into the courthouse with Malika's family to deliver a signed petition demanding that DA Hanson drops the charges against her. Dom is antsy and asks about Malika’s bail money, to which the woman in charge assures Dom and Joseph that they have almost reached their goal. If they can’t raise the money Malika will be moved to Lynwood, a women's prison.
While leaving the courthouse, Callie takes the case of Yvonne Buyers from her co-worker Tony, as Yvonne is the woman Malika pointed out to her earlier. Yvonne, Cadence, and Brooke helped Malika feel more relaxed in the cell. Cadence offers Malika a candy bar while Brooke gives Malika her cell phone in case she needs to send a text. Malika broke down but Yvonne assured her that she wasn’t alone. Malika explains to Callie that Yvonne’s hearing date kept changing at the last minute making her unable to appear. She also has three kids and a job that she needs to attend tonight or she risks losing custody of her children. Callie promises to do what she can to help.
Alice is sent flowers from Malika to celebrate her audition. She remembers standing up to Lindsay and Sumi about her comedy career, as she stormed out of the room. Malika follows to express her pride for Alice taking her pride back. Malika gives her a pep talk and makes her pinky promise to do her best. Kelly can’t believe that Malika used her one phone call to send Alice flowers. At the courthouse, the BLM lawyer arrives without Malika. She explains that Malika asked them to use the funds to release the other women in the cells instead of herself as they need it more. Yvonne and the other women thank Malika for her help but will pray for her. Callie tells Malika that everyone is heading to the sit-in but not to worry, as they’ll get her out. They hold their hands against the glass.
Gael and Dyonte make an ad shining a light on DA Hanson’s racial politics and that Malika is not a threat to society. They show footage of DA Hanson ignoring the community leaders and refusing to acknowledge their petition. They show footage of the women Malika released, and the bigots cheering for Hanson. In the prison, a security guard unchains Malika to take her somewhere else.
In the Coterie's kitchen, the Coterie group is saddened over their loss when they are joined by the BLM leaders. Malika enters a few moments later as everyone claps for her return. She thanks them for their help, and the video that Gael and Dyonte made was enough for DA Hanson to drop the charges. Isaac arrives and hugs her as they kiss, with him feeling bad for not being there sooner. She assures him that being here is what matters. Malika is appreciative of Alice missing her audition. Alice takes a call from Ruby who tells her that Sumi sent her a link to the live stream performance, and the judges unanimously agreed to accept Alice into the CBTV Comedy Diversity Workshop. Everyone is happy for her, though Lindsay and Sumi enter with Alice thanking Sumi for her help. Lindsay was also accepted into the program. Malika hugs Dom and Joseph, thanking everyone for standing up for her and fighting. Malika the Coterie group and BLM celebrate their win.
In Because, Men, Malika texts with Dyonte as Isaac walks in asking what she’s smiling at, leading her to admit that she’s competing with Dyonte. At DPN, the woman in charge tells Dyonte and Malika about the yearly intern mini-campaigns that compliment the work of DPN. She then tells them about the town hall meeting coming up as they have to make an average of 50 calls per person. Malika bets Dyonte that she can raise 100 people to his 50, leading to them striking up a competition, though the award of the competition is left unclear. At the Coterie, Isaac didn’t realize the nonprofit world was so competitive, but she explains that DPN only chooses one intern per year to be an organizer. He remarks on the cutthroat culture, likening it to taking a shower at the Coterie. He asks if she’s thought more about his offer to move in together but she wants to make sure he’s consulted his therapist since moving in together can be stressful. He takes this chance to point out her lack of sleep at night but she brushes it off despite his concerns. Her charges have been dropped so she is free but he recommends talking to someone but she thinks her work is therapy. They are interrupted by a phone call from Yvonne Byers, who asks Malika to watch her kids.
Malika meets Yvonne in the living room of The Coterie though Yvonne’s mom will come by at noon. Her oldest. Kiara is a teenager while the others are younger. The youngest girl, Nisa, has to use the bathroom so Malika asks the eldest daughter to watch the brother, Shine, but Kiara snaps that she isn’t the babysitter.
Shine, the child that Malika is watching, bursts into Mariana’s room as Malika runs after the boy while trying to call people for DPN. She doesn’t get help from Kiara so she ends her call and frantically snatches Shine up, taking him back into her room where he proceeds to bounce on the bed. The youngest daughter, Nisa, asks if a bottle of liquor is apple juice so she takes the bottle and explains that it’s grown-up juice. Yvonne calls to ask Malika to watch the kids longer as her mom has to pull a double. Nisa empties Malika’s makeup bag while Shine throws a pillow at the back of Malika’s head. Malika forces herself to say that she doesn’t mind watching them until 6. Kiara isn’t surprised that Yvonne canceled and left them with a stranger. Nisa plays with Malika’s makeup. Kiara snips that Malika sucks as a babysitter before calling her mom by her first name, wishing Yvonne wasn’t her mother. Malika snaps back to check her attitude and stop being a little shit, which makes Shine stop jumping on the bed and Nisa go quiet. Shine and Nisa want to go swimming so Malika calls someone for help.
Dyonte arrives at Malika's room to find her covered in glittering makeup while Kiara remarks that Malika needed a man to come to her rescue.
Dyonte, Nisa, and Shine play in the pool while Malika folds towels and Kiara sulks at the balcony. Malika approaches Kiara and apologizes for snapping earlier. She tries to sympathize with Kiara over their similar childhoods, as Malika only had her mother growing up and she was always working or doing other things instead of with Malika. Kiara is annoyed because they were supposed to go shopping but Yvonne blew it off, which Malika understands but pushes the idea that Yvonne is doing her best. Kiara bonds with Malika over this and they dip their feet in the pool while watching Dyonte play with the kids.
Malika and Dyonte drink by the pool as she thanks him for helping her today. He’s just glad she called and she teases that if she couldn’t make calls today he couldn’t either. She admits to seeing herself in Kiara and tells Dyonte about being in foster care, which he relates as he moved around a lot. He thinks she should talk to someone in therapy as the job can bring up past trauma. He sees a couples counselor so she calls him out on trying to get her to be his side piece. He does like Malika and compliments her greatly then reveals that he’s in a polyamorous relationship. His girlfriend has another boyfriend so he asks why Malika has been flirting back.
Malika and Isaac talk in her room about babysitting Yvonne’s kids. She admits it was challenging until Dyonte arrived. He isn’t happy with Dyonte being there but she promises he doesn’t have anything to worry about. She remembers her talk with Dyonte and denies having flirted with him as they aren’t in an open relationship, and she plans to move in with Isaac. Malika tells Isaac that Dyonte has a girlfriend and he’s her one and only. He talked to his therapist about them moving in together and she agreed with Malika and thinks it might be too soon. He thinks they should wait so she agrees to wait. He then asks her to give him a chance to show up for her by calling him next time.
Malika arrives at Dignity and Power to find Dyonte making calls already. The lady in charge asks how everything is going with Dyonte happily saying he got his fifty. Malika asks for an extension as she had to watch a friend's children, apologizing for not meeting the deadline. The woman understands as supporting people in the system is what they do. Malika got an idea about how women in prison don’t have enough support so she wants to fund a child care program for one they have to work or make court appearances. The woman approves the campaign. Dyonte thinks it’s a great idea and wants to help support her. He gives her the numbers of therapists but Malika is adamant that the campaign is all the therapy she needs.
In Help, Malika remembers being chained, handcuffed, and in prison. She also remembers arguing with her mother, being taken into foster care, standing by her mother’s death bed, and seeing flashes of herself taking her mother’s place in prison. She jolts awake from her nightmare. She later exchanges playful banter with Kelly in the kitchen.
Malika meets with single mothers at DPN for her child care program and suffers flashbacks to her childhood and mother. The women each ask for help, with Malika thanking the last woman for telling her story as the lady leaves. Dyonte asks if Malika is okay to which she claims she is and leaves abruptly.
Later that night, Dyonte asks Malika if she’s ready for a break but she isn’t as there’s too much left to do. He jokes that she needs to eat but she snaps at him that she’s fine, but apologizes a moment later. He wants to make sure they’re okay as he didn’t mean to cross a line the other night but she assures him they’re fine, she just wants to get the work done as it means a lot to her. He tells her not to stay too late before leaving.
The next morning, Malika watches testimonies from the single mothers and becomes emotional as she watches. She sees her mother apologizing and her story also reflected in the women so she begins to cry. She cries as the DPN manager enters and holds Malika, comforting her. Malika tells the DPN manager of her compassion for the other women that she didn't have for her mother. The manager believes that Malika’s dream is her realizing that Mrs. Williams is a victim of the system. Malika wonders if her mother got the help she needed that Mrs. Williams would still be here. The manager tells her to be careful how much she gives without burning out.
Malika films a testimonial about her mother and her childhood after her father was arrested. She remembers dreaming of seeing her mother at the foot of her bed. Malika didn’t understand at the time that her mother was a victim of a racist system. She understands now and remembers waking up and not seeing her mother at the foot of her bed in reality. Malika asks the world to help them in their campaign, #HelpingFamiliesLeftBehind, which will help mothers who have nowhere left to turn. Dyonte turns off the camera and tells her the testimony was powerful and brave. Malika thanks him for his help and apologizes for her attitude the last few days. She then accepts the therapist’s number that he recommended.
In New Moon, the group sits around a circle of candles and crystals as they take part in a cleansing ritual. Malka remembers Dyonte telling her that she can love more than one person. Isaac recalls Malika inviting him to the new moon ceremony and her inviting Dyonte which he says is cool.
Malika sets up the crystal circle as she remembers Dyonte giving her a crystal that prompts health and healing. They joke about her relationships needing protection but he just noticed the crystal on her desk and wanted to get her something. She wants to return to her spiritual practices to charge her crystals during a new moon, which he points out is coming up soon. Dyonte and Isaac arrive together, and Isaac gives Malika a sage stick since it’s supposed to help clear negative energies. She thanks him and they embrace. She then collects everyone's phones, which spooks Mariana into leaving.
Malika lights sage to begin the ceremony by smudging themselves of negative energy. Mariana can’t reach any of her Coterie members and panics over what it could be. Malika has everyone join hands so Callie whispers to Alice that she hopes she didn’t make things awkward between them, but Alice assures her that isn’t the case. Malika explains the new moon. She remembers talking to Dyonte about his girlfriend since he finished This Is Us without her. Malika asks about the girlfriend who is named Tanya, and he admits that he was jealous at first until he realized they can love more than one person and shouldn’t deny having intimate connections with others. She asks if he’s interested in another girlfriend which he could be. She also remembers learning capoeira with him and stops the hand holding abruptly. She tells everyone to write down their intentions. She plans to burn the notes in a metal pot so Gael excuses himself to find a pan.
She decides to postpone the burning and asks everyone to give the objects that mean something to them, so Davia takes Matt to get another item. All that’s left around the circle are Malika, Dyonte, and Isaac, who assure her that they are going to follow through with the rest of the ritual. She points out the next thing is a cleansing ritual in the pool which they are down for. Malika and Dyonte float Isaac in the pool, alternating between the trio as they perform the cleansing ritual. She adjusts her hands on both their backs.
A raccoon falls into the pool and scares Malika, Isaac, and Dyonte, who swim frantically to the edge. Animal control arrives but Callie, Alice, and Gael turn them away. Kelly emerges with a raccoon and thanks them, but she needs to find Lucy. Malika, Dyonte, and Isaac dart through the Coterie screaming about the raccoon in the pool until they see Kelly holding the raccoon. Kelly is looking after the creatures for a traveling animal show.
Malika wonders what the raccoon appearing could mean and the boys joke about the pool needing to be drained. Isaac asks where Dyonte’s girlfriend is and learns the relationship isn’t exclusive as they are poly.
That night when they are alone in her bedroom, Malika asks Isaac what he thought about the ceremony and he admits to it being illuminating. He confronts Malika about not being surprised that Dyonte was in a poly relationship and not telling him, which leads to him asking if she wants to be in a relationship with Dyonte.
In Trust, Malika goes to therapy where she admits to being confused. She remembers Isaac asking if she’s interested in a relationship with Dyonte, where she assures him that she doesn’t want Dyonte but only Isaac. While in therapy, she admits that she doesn’t understand why she’s trying to ruin her relationship.
At Douro, Malika’s friends vent to her about their love lives. Malika remembers talking to her therapist about being attracted to someone else. She remarks that he’s kind, supportive, shares a similar story, and he moves her in a way she can’t explain. She wants to be close to him as he makes her happy. She tells her friends the information but they aren’t supportive of her having a relationship with Dyonte as Isaac is the best thing to happen to her.
Malika tells her friends what polyamory means and the difference between that and polygamy. She remembers talking to her therapist about it and learning that there is a belief about monogamy being a social construct that makes people feel selfish. Malika’s friends think it’s just an excuse to cheat while the therapist notes that consensual non-monogamy is right for others, meaning that being poly could be a sexual orientation. Her friends aren’t sure Malika would be able to share her with another man, but telling him how she feels might make her lose him for good.
Malika talks to her therapist about not suppressing her identity or feelings out of fear of losing the person she loves as not asking for what she needs will end the relationship. Malika has realized that she loves Isaac but needs to tell him she lied. She wants to pursue a relationship with Dyonte while being in a relationship with Isaac. The therapist asks Isaac how he feels, but he remains silent on the couch in shock.
In She's Back, Malika talks to Dyonte about her telling Isaac that she lied about not wanting to be in a relationship with him. Malika doesn’t assume the feeling is mutual but he assures her it is mutual. Malika wants to be with Isaac too, which Dyonte understands. Isaac leaves the therapy session. Malika admits to Dyonte that she hasn’t heard from Isaac since. If Isaac can’t do it then she can’t either.
Malika sits by the pool when she’s joined by Isaac who apologizes for leaving therapy. She apologizes for ambushing him and they can stay monogamous if he’s not okay with it. Isaac doesn’t want to change her so he’ll have to find a way to accept her for who she is. Malika sits by the pool the next night and is joined by Dyonte. She remembers meeting with Isaac and him not being cool with either option - lose her or be okay with her dating Dyonte. He needs to take a break to think it over. She kisses Dyonte and then cries which confuses him. She notes that if it weren’t for Dyonte she wouldn’t be losing Isaac, and the only way she can prove how much she loves him is not to see Dyonte anymore. The kiss was just goodbye. She apologizes then leaves.
In Closing Arguments, Dyonte arrives at DPN now that he has a bunch of vendors to sing on for his rest campaign at a festival. He is happy that people are understanding his campaign. Malika praises his idea but he knows something is off with her. She admits that she got a job offer.
Flashing sideways to Douro, Malika serves Councilwoman Morales with a free drink as a thank you for her help. She had no idea Angelica's friend in the city council was an actual City Councilperson. Anjelica leaves to wait at another table while Malika thanks Morales again for the help. Morales wanted to meet Malika as well as she’s impressed by her and her passion. She needs someone like Malika on her team - someone with inside knowledge of the system. She wants Malika to join her staff. She wants to divert the money back into their communities devastated by incarceration. Malika agrees so Morales asks her to join the camp.
Now, Dyonte hopes that Malika isn’t considering it which surprises her. He tells her not to trust politicians as their jobs become dependent on maintaining the status quo. DPN Manager walks over and asks what’s going on. Malika remembers the job offer that DPN Manager gave her. She is honest about the other job offer from Morales who is passionate about funding her mini-campaign with public money. DPN Manager finds the offer interesting while Malika just wants to make sure Dyonte doesn’t think he came in second. DPN Manager promises not to say anything until Malika decides. Now, Dyonte wants Malika to avoid the dark side. DPN Manager reminds Malika that the government works slowly and they win very few of their fights. It can take years to come to fruition, but having someone on the inside advocating every day isn’t a bad thing. Dyonte asks what will happen if Malika gets the job at DPN but she doesn’t know.
Malika talks to Anjelica about Dyonte not wanting her to take the job with Lucia. But Malika thinks the opportunities are tempting but she loves being an activist and working with DPN. She doesn’t want to take a chance away from Dyonte either. Anjelica finds it difficult and tells Malika that Lucia is passionate about changing the system. She thinks they would work well together. It wouldn’t be awkward for Anjelica if Malika worked with Lucia. The topic shifts to relationships as Malika admits that Isaac wasn’t comfortable with her being poly and seeing other people. Malika asks if Anjelica is cool with Malika being poly but Anjelica just wants to take things one day at a time. Anjelica tells her to make her work decision about what works for her and not think about Dyonte’s issues as he’ll land on his feet.
Malika goes to work the next morning to see the DPN Manager talking with Dyonte in her office. Malika sits at her desk and Dyonte joins her. He admits that Imani, the DPN Manager, just offered him the paid position at DPN. Malika tells him not to be sorry as it’s good news. Malika has decided to take the job with Lucia. He hates that she’s taking the job as a consultant. She insists she’s not as they both get to do their work.
That night after the comedy showcase, Dyonte wants to meet Anjelica but Malika wants to wait until they know where it’s going. He has to leave for an early day but she’s happy he stayed for the important part. They kiss and agree to disagree on her new job. He tells her goodnight as he leaves. She turns around just as Isaac rides the elevator up. He says her name and she turns around in surprise.
In "Turn and Face the Strange", Malika gets flowers delivered to The Coterie. She recalls Isaac returning and wanting to get back with her. She can't do it right now as she needs time to think. She now reads the card which is from Dyonte, wishing her luck for her new job. Malika comes home to find flowers from Angelica. Mariana meets Evan that the restaurant. The make small talk and he adopted a pet turtle.
Davia asks Malika about her first day, which was boring as she had HR paperwork to fill out. She offers tea but Malika also needs advice. She tells her about Isaac and the monogamous offer. Davia reminds her that she doesn't need to be grateful and has the right to explore what she wants. Malika feels abandoned by Isaac. Davia wonders if she can forgive him for leaving, admitting that she forgave Dennis.
Malika meets Isaac at the basketball court. They talk about her new tattoo then play basketball together. They seem to have a lot of fun. They talk and he admits he just needed time to think. She admits it felt like goodbye and he points out that she lied about having feelings for Dyonte. She admits she was confused and is still learning things about herself. She's sorry for hurting him, so he apologizes for leaving but is back now to be with her.
At the food truck opening, Malika's friends notice her new tattoo and she admits Isaac came back and wants to get back together. Back at the court, they admit to missing one another. She tells him that she's moved on with other relationships. She loves him and wants to be part of his life if he'll let her. Now, her friends praise her for standing her ground. Malika walks off to kiss Dyonte hello, and Angelica arrive so she kisses her too. She introduces them to one another. Malika's friends get to know Dyonte and Angelica. The music comes on and the groups begin to dance together.
Isaac Hall - (Malika and Isaac) Malika first saw Isaac on the dating app Shipper and thought he was physically attractive. She swiped right on him to go on a date, though he didn't match with her meaning that he didn't find her attractive. She didn't give it much thought until he walked into her bar later that night with his friends.
Malika: Trouble makes change. And we are seriously in need of some change right now.
Malika (to Callie): Yeah, I'm always mad. And I'm always disappointed, and tired, and frustrated, and I wish that I didn't have to organize a protest for someone who couldn't see the beauty in his own people. I have to. I have to be there for everyone because we all should be there for each other.
Notes and Trivia
Zuri Adele described Malika as "extremely passionate about social justice and equality. She is very proud to be a woman of African descent." Zuri also stated that Malika "has a shell around her because she is so independent, she is so fierce."
Malika is a Black Lives Matter activist, often protesting against police brutality. She helps to investigate questionable African-American deaths at the hands of police officers.
Her twitter handle is @Malika4Change.
Her favorite female rappers are Cardi B and Princess Nokia since they are bringing feminism to the female rapper world.
Malika kissed Davia in "Re-Birthday" during a challenge that won her team 25 points.