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This Couple Found Love Through Shared Faith & Putting God First

"Even if I'm not confident in myself, I'm confident in her, so that makes things easier to go through."

Our First Year

In xoNecole's Our First Year series, we take a more in-depth look at love and relationships between real-life couples, married and unmarried with an emphasis on what their first year in love was like. These couples allow us to journey through their love stories with them – the ups, the downs, the triumphs, and the tribulations of what it takes to make their love work.

The first thing that stood out to him when he met her was how different she was from any woman who came before her.

When Cameron, 24, met Aisha, 26, it was over six years ago at a mutual friend's BBQ. Among the sweet smell of hickory, the earthy aroma of charcoal, and too-sweet tea, their eyes met and so did their vibes. It was humble beginnings for the Creative Label co-founder and the pro-baller. Cam would love his wife for her creativity, passion, ambition, and most of all, her ability to challenge him "to be better and do better," he said. "And hold me accountable."

For AIsha, she would love in her husband the very thing that took her breath away from the jump: his kindness.

@cam_marshall

One look at Aisha's Instagram and you learn exactly how they fit. Photos of her in her cap and gown being supported by her man as she finishes her degree, him being supported by her while donning his own uniform for the Sasatchewan Rough Riders. It's not only a match made in heaven, but a match made in compromise.

After five years together, the couple got married in the spring, March 5, 2017 to be exact, during Aisha's spring break in her third year in law school. "The most memorable moment to me was when I walked down the aisle and Cam looked at me and siad, 'Wow,'" Aisha recalled. "He has this weird way of making me feel like I'm the only girl in the world."

@aisha

A year later, and the Marshalls are giving us some insight into their first year of marriage in our latest installment of Our First Year. This is their journey.

Dating With Purpose

Kenzie Hart

Cam Marshall: When I was looking to date, I was only looking to date someone that had qualities that I could see in a wife. When I met her, she was just different—in a good way—from everyone I met. I felt a strong and quick connection with her. After I knew her heart, it was obvious at that point. Nothing sudden, it was over time. When I knew her heart, I knew that's what I want.

Aisha Marshall: This is so cheesy, but I felt like I knew he was the one when we met. Seriously. You always hear that, but I felt it. Mostly because I knew I was dating a Godly man. And what came with that was someone who also put God first, valued our relationship, and had no interest in playing games. All that coupled together felt like if we were compatible, it would really lead to something special.

The One

Kenzie Hart

Cam: I knew I wanted to marry her early on. I decided to propose when I did, because I wanted to marry her for 3 ½ years, and I knew it was time. I felt like we were at a point in our relationship where we had gone through a lot and I felt like I had a good grasp on how we could handle things together when things were easy and going well and when things were really horrible—in each one of our lives, respectively. I felt like that was something I needed to push me [and feel] that it's time to do this.

Aisha: For me, when we first started long distance was when I knew—which was a little less than one year into our relationship. (laughs) We went the traditional route when it came to living together and being abstinent. So when our school and careers took us to separate parts of the country, I knew that I didn't want to live my life apart from him anymore. I knew he was it for me.

"I knew I didn't want to live my life apart from him anymore. I knew he was it for me."

Deepest Fears

Kenzie Hart

Cam: I didn't have fears going into marriage, which is probably strange and naive to say. My parents have been married for 30 years. Not making it work is never an option for me. Knowing things get tough, I knew we'd make it work and figure it out. I wasn't scared about anything.

Aisha: My biggest fear is divorce. I came from a single parent household, so I experienced first-hand how that can affect a childhood. I absolutely didn't want that for my future. One thing we've learned throughout this year is that, oftentimes, couples bring their experiences—bad and good—from their family into their relationship. Making a conscious effort to recognize those feelings and shut them down if they're not helping your marriage is key.

Building Together

Kenzie Hart

Cam: In the beginning, we didn't overcome friction as a team very well. We had slightly different expectations post-marriage [that] made things difficult sometimes when we're trying to handle things. She thought, "This is my husband, this is how he should act." And I thought, "Why should things change from when we're dating?" That didn't allow us to act really well as a team. I did things and acted alone often times without involving her when I should have or when she expected me to.

Aisha: Nine months in, and I think we're finally starting to get the team player gig down, for the most part. Working as a team on hard, controversial topics is freaking hard. We both have the best intentions for our marriage, don't get me wrong. We just both have different ways of going about them.

Baggage Reclaim

Kenzie Hart

Cam: Some bad behaviors for me was not being open. I'm naturally closed off as a person. That's not the bad part. What's bad is that I wasn't open with Aisha with the things that involve her. How did I navigate through it? Repeated arguing, until I finally realized that this was important. I had to stop trying to fight it and realize that this is important for her. When I was more open, things were a lot smoother than when I tried to control them by myself. Being open with her didn't mean that I never got my way anymore. It was just more discussions than me just unilaterally making a decision.

Aisha: One bad behavior for me was ending a argument or discussion when I felt like I didn't want to talk about it anymore. That's super wrong (laughs). I would deny Cameron a conversation basically when it got too heated. I learned that even if I'm frustrated, sitting through and talking things out brings more resolve than leaving or checking out of the conversation.

Lessons In Love

Kenzie Hart

Cam: [The most important lesson I've learned is] that we can get through anything. I feel like when you have someone who you really know has your back 100%, little stuff—or big stuff even—doesn't bother you as much. So, even if I'm not confident in myself, I'm confident in her, so that makes things easier to go through. Having your best friend in your corner, you feel like you can do anything.

"Even if I'm not confident in myself, I'm confident in her, so that makes things easier to go through."

Aisha: He comes first, after God. He is the most important thing in my life. And by consciously serving and not expecting, and vice versa, we will produce a more fulfilling marriage.

Mentors In Marriage

Kenzie Hart

Cam: We both went through different phases of people. My father early on, to my two friends, who are married. These people were my go-to for marriage advice because they each had different levels of experience and they were both great representations of what God intended marriage to be. I could trust them because they were men of God who were practicing God in His word.

Aisha: Typically, it's my best friend or two other close friends who are a bit older and married. It's hard because I'm the only one in my friend group who is married. So I want to make sure I'm getting the right advice. But the other two women are women of God. God is at the center of their relationship and they've been married for over 4 years. The experience aspect was one that was important for me to get.

God First

Kenzie Hart

Cam: A common goal would be to keep God first in our relationship and to push each other to accomplish our own individual goals. My individual goal is to great. The standard is great. It doesn't stop with athletics. I want to be a great husband, provider, leader. That's the standard. I want to be able to maintain that great standard throughout life and my marriage.

Aisha: Our marriage is rooted in faith. After my relationship with God, it's like a cycle. We both push each other to pursue each individual goal, to pursue a better relationship with God, and to pursue a better relationship with one another. Repeat.

For more Aisha & Cam, follow them on Instagram @aisha and @cam_marshall.

All images were captured by Kenzie Hart. Follow her on Instagram @hartfilms_.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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