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How Journalist Marsha B. Manifested The NYC Apartment Of Her Dreams

In resting, we recharge and we also begin to create the life and space we desire.

Home Improvement

Now, more than ever, it's important to make your space sacred. Since COVID-19 came in like a flood, we have been spending more time in our dope abodes. Our souls need a safe space to shelter from all of the happenings outside of our doorsteps. Home is not only where the heart is but it's also where the peace is. It's the space that allows us to rest and recharge because black rest matters, too.

In resting, we recharge and we also begin to create the life and space we desire.

Journalist and content creator Marsha B. knows exactly what that means after her once comfortable life was shaken up. After seven years in a relationship, she woke up one day and decided she had to put herself first. While the breakup was one of the most amicable separations she has ever experienced, there was still one large blockade keeping her from her new chapter — their huge, two-bedroom apartment in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn.

Marsha's journey to her stylish sanctuary was nothing short of serendipitous. Her relationship ended on good terms so there were no qualms about her residing with her ex but her soul needed to started anew. A few months after the breakup, Marsha moved into a studio in the same neighborhood. It wasn't a deluxe apartment in the sky but it was the first stage in her building the life she wanted. However, her attempt to find solace in solitude quickly became a nightmare.

Reclaiming Her Time and Space

The studio apartment

Photo Courtesy of Marsha B.

"For my ex, it made no sense for me to leave. For me, it was vital to me really exploring what it meant to prioritize myself. I made the decision to find my own place. I moved in the wintertime so the neighborhood was generally quiet," she explained. "Once the weather hit 50 degrees, I realized I lived directly in front of a drug hub in Flatbush. Yes, directly outside of my front window was a trap van with drug dealers and drug addicts, reminiscent of the New Jack City movie."

The soundtrack of her life became fights heard in the middle of the night, undercover officers taking down addicts, and observed transactions as she walked into her building. She knew then that she had to go back to the drawing board in achieving the freedom she desired. She broke her lease. Her apartment complex let her know she'd be responsible for paying the rent through the remainder of her lease term. "I honestly didn't care," she said. "I had the money. I was going to do what I had to do to live comfortably."

Marsha found herself a few steps closer to the sanctuary she envisioned mid-apartment hunting when a broker reached out to her about a huge one-bedroom apartment available nearby. Located just 30 minutes from the studio she was renting, she decided to take a walk there. This time, she wanted to scope the neighborhood and be certain there were no trap vans hidden around the corner. The first thing that caught her attention was the size of the space. The living room alone was the size of the studio she was in the process of moving out of.

Photo Courtesy of Marsha B.

However, though the space was the size she longed for, it'd require a lot of work to truly be the space of her dreams. "This was a diamond in the rough," Marsha stated. "The kitchen had this horrible wallpaper from the 70's. The tiles on the floor were old and dirty. The walls honestly had never been painted since the tenant first moved in, 20 years ago. There were holes in the wall, a roach infestation, broken light fixtures. You name it, they had it. The broker let me know this apartment was being rented 'as is', so all my requests for the apartment to be improved were denied."

"I prayed long and hard about whether or not I should take this place. It was going to be a financial investment and I wasn't fond of spending so much on a place I didn't own. I adjusted to my abundance mindset: 'You have the money. You want to live comfortably. You will live here for as long as the universe will have you here. An investment in this apartment is an investment in you,'" she continued.

"I adjusted to my abundance mindset: 'You have the money. You want to live comfortably. You will live here for as long as the universe will have you here. An investment in this apartment is an investment in you.'"

The Stylish Sanctuary - Before & After:

And an investment it was indeed. Marsha got the keys to her apartment in October 2019 and since then has had her place fumigated and painted. She's retiled the dining room, kitchen and bathroom floors, stripped the wallpaper in the kitchen among other renovations she needed to in order to give her apartment the transformation she deserved. "I had to do everything on a budget because I still had to pay two months rent at my old spot, while paying rent at my new place," Marsha shared. "Then, there were moving costs, first month's rent, security, and broker's fee. And paint. Paint isn't cheap, especially when the apartment is gigantic."

But the hard work, money, and effort paid off and the peace she found afterwards was worth its weight in gold. "I am in love with where I live and I honestly don't ever want to leave!" she rejoiced about her stylish simple sanctuary.

The Transformation:

Photo Courtesy of Marsha B.

"It's important to invest in what you want. This apartment was in such horrible shape and if I weren't willing to invest in it, I might've settled for something mediocre. I am filled with pride when I look at my apartment and what it's morphed into."

Photo Courtesy of Marsha B.

"I'd like to think that I manifested this apartment. I wrote down on a piece of paper, 'I will attract the perfect apartment for me. It will be in the perfect location. It will be safe and affordable.' I got exactly what I asked for. If I didn't shift into my abundance mindset, I could've possible lost out on an amazing living space. As far as rent goes, I only pay $55 more than I was paying in my studio. This apartment is four times bigger. No DIY projects, but I will throw this tip out there: Facebook Marketplace is the truth!"

Photo Courtesy of Marsha B.

"My favorite part of my new space is my bedroom. I strategically left it out of my apartment tour because it's such a sacred space for me. If my home were a church, my bedroom would be the confessional. I'm very conscious of the energies I allow in there. I have affirmations written on the walls and I house my altar that keeps me spiritually grounded there. My personal rule is that there are no arguments or disagreements in my bedroom. It is literally a safe space for me."

Keep up with Marsha on her website, Introvert N The City.

Featured image courtesy of Marsha B.

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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