I Built My Investment Property Brand While Confined To A Wheelchair

I began watching rehabbing videos, reading books, cleaning up my credit—and I owned 6 properties within a year.

As Told To

As Told To is a recurring segment on xoNecole where real women are given a platform to tell their stories in first-person narrative as told to a writer.

This is India Monae's story, as told to Charmin Michelle.

Leading up to the accident, it was a normal Friday for me.

As an entrepreneur, I was always busy and I had a pop-up shop for my boutique that day. My cousin, who had just graduated from college, was with me; she came to shadow me for the summer. She grabbed her keys, we hopped in the car, and decided to head to lunch at a restaurant located in a pretty busy area. Suddenly, as we were turning left, we heard a loud engine revving—we heard him before we even saw him, speeding well over 80 mph on a residential street.

Drunk driver.

My cousin veered left in an effort to avoid the impact, and BOOM.

We were struck head-on, more so on my (passenger) side.

What made it even worse, this guy hit us so hard that our car flew backwards and landed in the patio of a restaurant, striking a waitress. She was lucky to only sustain three broken ribs.

As for me, once the car stopped, I immediately marveled at the fact that I was conscious. I checked on my cousin and made an effort to use my remaining strength to get out of the car.

I realized I was trapped.

The car was completely inverted, smashed on my feet. Once emergency responders arrived, chaos ensued. There were paramedics, firefighters, and policemen everywhere, all working together to get me out. It took roughly 40 minutes to cut the car enough to pull me out.

Both of my feet were completely shattered.

I was whisked off the to the hospital to have emergency reconstructive surgery the next morning. On the way, I lost consciousness.

I remember waking up and one of my friends was in the corner nauseous, trying not to throw up. Another was sitting on the floor with her head down. Confused, I quickly realized the bone in my right foot had come completely out.

Time passed on and I spent about a week in the hospital, which was a blur. My meds would put me to sleep left and right, I could never stay awake for long periods of time. I ended up with two metal screws, four pins, and about 11 metal plates laced through both feet, leaving me in a wheelchair for six months.

Then came recovery...

And it. Was. Tough. It was humbling. The pain was so intense, that they were pumping me with meds every two hours.

And it sucked because I was incapable of anything. I couldn't take care of my son, I couldn't work, I couldn't shower. I couldn't use the bathroom on my own, I had to use a handheld urinal. My mind would constantly go a mile a minute. I had been working so hard with work, as a full-time stylist and online boutique owner prior to the accident, so I was stressed, but doing well. After the accident however, all of my income stopped. I didn't have much savings; my whole world shut down. I even had to refund orders, because I couldn't fulfill them.

Being wheelchair-bound made me realize that I needed to work smart if I was going to survive. I had a son to take care of and realized I needed to create stability. I needed streams of income that would flow whether I was walking or not.

So, I began to educate myself and pivot my business.

The vast majority of my recovery time, I spent studying real estate investing. For some strange reason I gravitated towards it, maybe because I knew the revenue potential. And after committing myself to learning, I actually became very fluent in its language. I knew that investing was going to create that financial stability for my family, so I dove in, full throttle. I began watching rehabbing videos, reading books, and cleaning up my credit. After about six months, I transitioned from the chair into a heavy special walking boot. And then to crutches, eventually to a cane.

And sis, guess what? You better believe I would attend real estate seminars in every single one of them too; nothing stopped me, I was adamant.

Six months later, I purchased my first property. And then the second. The third—so on and so on. Within a year, I had six and my mission evolved. My passion developed into helping the black community create generational wealth while securing a legitimate legacy. Now, I mentor some of the most ferocious head hunters in real estate. And most importantly, I own several homes, which will all be left to my son.

I want that for all of us.

Over time, I have adjusted to a new normal and pushing the importance of my agenda. My biggest takeaway from my journey, which I cannot stress this enough, is to know the significance of entrepreneurship—or at least passive income. I've been an entrepreneur for 15 years, but at the time of my accident, I wasn't reveling in my full potential. And ladies, being counterproductive is real.

Just because you're busy, it doesn't mean that you're productive. And I was forced to distinguish the difference between the two.

Learn how to maximize your productivity to relieve yourself of spending too much time within your businesses. Work SMARTER, because we aren't taught this shit in school. Not all entrepreneurs have a retirement to fall back on. So, investing in assets is extremely important.

Credit > Christian Louboutin

As for what's next for me, maintaining and expanding. I'm actually staying afloat during the pandemic purely out of habit.

Many are out of work or furloughed, and in complete survival mode. COVID has taken so many jobs, and turned the world upside down, which is very reminiscent of what I went through, so I feel prepared. I feel I've been in this space before. And although I've had to cancel my business tour and postpone upcoming retreats, and even if I have tenants' situations to consider, I still have multiple streams of income, so, I'm not as affected, which is exactly how I designed it to be.

If you're struggling with where to start, know that your future is now. Invest your money so that it always sees returns. Investing will give you the freedom we all deserve (I wish I had known this years ago, which is why I preach this so heavily now).

Land > Labels.

Accident survivors: it's not easy moving forward, but don't pity yourselves. Admittedly, I'm still very traumatized, as it's hard for me to drive sometimes. But we survived because we still have a purpose to fulfill here. It takes a certain amount of darkness to see the stars. But don't ever stop seeking the light. There is purpose in pain.

So, stay encouraged always.

To attend one of India's classes, you can find more information on her Instagram page, @_indiamonae. You can also find a full list of services by following her Land Over Labels page and/or her website.

Featured image courtesy of India Monae

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.


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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