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A Black Woman's Struggles - Episode 3: Apartment for Rent

Uriel is an intellectual property lawyer, a fiction writer, and a language enthusiast.

Author's Note

Just as we did in episodes 1 & 2, we keep exploring societal and professional stereotypes about Black ladies. Though they may be based on real-life experiences, these are first and foremost fiction stories that are meant to appeal to the reader's creativity. Remember that your votes in the poll at the end make the author to keep writing!

-Welcome to Reeds Rental Services, how may I help you? Asked the man at the reception with a friendly smile.

-I have an appointment with Sheila, Answered Angela.

-Give me a minute, please.

After verifying her availability, the receptionist led Angela to the estate agent's office. The young lady sat in the chair facing that of the woman named Sheila.

-Our apartments are not the cheapest on the market. Are you sure you can afford one of them? Queried Sheila, her left eyebrow raised condescendingly.

-Yes, I brought my last bank statements as I was asked to, Replied the young lady, gently opening the folder in her arms.

-And what do you do for a living?

Angela paused for a second, then said:

-I’m an assistant editor at Rock Magazine…

“Even though I don’t know for how long I will keep that job,” Angela thought to herself. Less than two weeks before, her team had been saddled with the responsibility of interviewing the C.E.O of “Power to the Rich,” a wolf they had to paint in sheep’s clothing due to the magazine’s policy. The interview was conducted by Laetitia and Gregory, two members of her team, then handed over to Karl, in charge of the formatting. Unknown to Angela, Karl had added pictures of protesters standing in front of the “Power to the Rich” building, with a clear emphasis on the grievances written on the protest signs. He then wrote a caption stating “The price of success.” While the copy he had sent to Angela did not include the said pictures, the one he gave to the publishing team did contain them.

On Monday morning, when the magazine was published, Editor-in-Chief Sanders received dozens of calls asking him why on earth he had allowed such a controversial article in his press. He had immediately gone on their website to find out why an edition he had reviewed by himself from cover to cover, was deemed contentious. Upon discovering that the questionable article was the big interview, he called Angela in his office and gave her the scolding of her life. She was placed on suspension by the editor in chief, pending the decision of the magazine’s board of directors on her case.

While Sheila was going through the documents Angela had brought, she could not help but think about John Mary, a former Black tenant in one of the properties she was managing. Not only was he a nuisance for the neighborhood by constantly playing loud music and smoking weed at the entrance of the building, but he often had an incredible story as to why his rent cheques were bouncing. How about Agatha, the Black single mother of three kids, renting in Paperwork neighborhood? The other tenants were always complaining of her violent disputes with her boyfriends and the incessant cries of her children. When she was evicted, she sued Reeds Rental Services for wrongful eviction on the ground of racial discrimination. Sheila sighed while thinking of how much the legal battle had cost their company.

-Married? Any children? Asked the estate agent.

-No, answered Angela.

-Are you planning on having any of those anytime soon? And will you keep that job of yours for long?

-Excuse me, but what has it got to do with my looking for an apartment? Queried Angela, annoyed by Sheila’s persistence and condescendence.

-It’s people like you that make our job difficult, Said the estate agent, bluntly.

-And people like you make the world a worse place than it already is, Replied Angela.

She stood up, took back her file, and went out of the woman’s office. She thanked the welcoming receptionist and left the building. On her way back, she reminded herself of the reason why she had not denounced Karl for tampering with the article on “Power to the Rich.” Indeed, she could have chosen to escape the sanction by providing the last email that Karl had sent her, thereby proving that she was not aware of the changes he made afterward. Instead, she kept it for herself and took all the blame. Why? Because her whole being was crying justice not just for the people of Grapefruit Neighborhood, but for all those whose voices did not resonate loud enough against the high and mighty. Ever since high school, her boldness and fighting spirit had made her stand among her peers. And if she was to do it all over, she would do the same.

Later that evening, as she was working on a personal project of hers, her phone rang. Her heart skipped a beat when she saw the caller ID: Editor-in-chief Sanders.

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© 2020 Uriel Eliane