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POWERFUL Women - Stories

What makes me a Woman of Strength? Story of Natacha Pannell (PART II)

natachaNatacha Pannell is a Social Activist. She endured so much pain in her early pre-teen years. The experience she had to face shaped her to be the woman she is today and that woman is “A Woman of Strength.”  She continues to be active in her community and to help other families to deal with the pain of losing someone from gun violence. She is pictured with  Dr. Bob Lee host of the “Open Show” (Bronxnet TV) WBLS radio personality and DIOS recording artist StereoH aka Hashimbing. Natasha is currently working on her book and documentary. It was an honor to read her story and what makes her a woman of strength.

Read PART  I here >>> PART I

Continuing PART II

The following night we had a candle light vigil for my brother and a march down Teaneck road spanning from the Teaneck police department going towards Interval road, where my brother was killed. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it down that far, as someone was provoked in the crowd by the barricades and the barrage of police officers chanting or saying something to protesters.  All I can remember is people yelling “this is for Phil, he didn’t deserve to die like that, shot in the back…” a riot broke out and people came to protect my father and I. My mother was not there at the march she had been admitted to the hospital due to a break down following my brother’s murder.  Stores were trashed and cop cars were smashed and flipped over.  It was a huge fiascal that evening.  Followed by that night after the town was cleaned up, march after march, rally after rally and protesters were forming by the hundreds.  Religious leaders, politicians and social and civil rights activists came by the dozens to help my family and I fight for JUSTICE, which we never received. The trial was a fluke and a circus because the courts directed my family to sit right next to the Spath’s family and it was an all-white jury, all the while the presiding Judge was best friends with the Teaneck Chief of police which happened to be Spath’s father or either his grandfather.

   Years later, I was confronted with grief. I suffered with self-hate, depression and suicidal tendencies because I had lost the only person in life who understood me and who I could be myself around.  My world felt like it had ended and I was like the walking dead, alive living and walking around like I was in some sort of bubble.  As the years past, I faced trouble and more disappointment while in school. I was bullied, became a bully myself and I was misrepresented, misunderstood as a young teenage girl.  This all started at school almost a year later after the tragedy with my brother, I sat at an assigned seat and as I day dreamed about my life I decided to look at the love notes and doodle on the desk.  Once I read in red ink, “I hope you die and be six feet under like your brother,” I simply lost it in that very moment I went into a rage and all I could in vision was that moment less than a year ago I was kneeling down trying to dig up my brother where he was laid to rest. I remember wanted to see him one last time, the urge was so great I could not control myself I was overwhelmed and stricken by grief and by reading that on the desk I knew the feeling all too well.  That very moment I had choices and I made the decision to go find the perpetrator who wrote the message.  I had a feeling who it was and so as the tears flowed down my cheeks I was determined to cause pain to that person.  I jumped out of my seat walked down the hallway into the “perps” classroom she happened to be in my favorite teacher’s classroom at the time so I politely asked the teacher could I see such and such and he asked could it wait. I said no still while tears were constantly rolling down my cheeks.  The girl came to meet me at the door of the classroom, I asked her did you write on the desk I hope you… she said “yea I wrote it!” as she was admitting what she had done, I punched her as hard as I could in her face. We started fighting and every year thereafter I fought not only her I fought all her brother and sisters, her foster sibling(s) and three of her friends all totaling to about 12 or more individuals all throughout my high school years, all the beef stemmed from jealousy and by me being the only one standing up to her, as I told her a few months before she could not be in the talent show with us because she did not show up for any of the practices, other than the last practice rehearsal before the show. Her reasoning was because she had basketball practice, which was no excuse. I also was on the basketball team and I attended every talent show rehearsal because I really wanted to win that year, the year before we came in second place. So, I wasn’t scared of neither her nor the fact she had so many siblings, and they bullied everyone in the school. I knew it was the right or fair thing to do, the other girls in the group were all scared of her and her family so they backed out and sat down while I was the fall guy and in her eyes the one that caused her not to be in the talent show.  She wreaked havoc on my future during my high “school days.” Of course when it was all said and done and everyone said yes lets go check my claim out, she had already erased what she had wrote and denied ever writing that on the desk.


   As I sit here thinking about many other things I have endured and conquered in my life the greatest gift is knowing that I AM A Woman of Strength because I have failed many, many times over. I have made bad choices and yet I still prevail and never seem to give up! I am a very proud mother of a young 15 year old teenager and I honored my belief when I told myself after my brother was killed, if I were to ever have a son I would name him after my brother and I was blessed to do so.  He is the light of my life and one of the main reasons as to why I continue to strive and fight for what I believe and for what is right.  My son is the driving force behind my ability to be more solution driven, so that he could have and live in a shared creative comfortable space with his peers, so that he could have “a Better Tomorrow!” Meaning I fight for the voiceless, for those who cannot seem to help themselves or those who may need a push or added encouragement to do more or better for themselves. I am fearless when it comes to family and friends, I have morals and values that are grounded by the Lord and my strong willed mother, who have taught me so much in life both how to survive and to be strong against all odds and whether she beat it out of me or beat it into me I respect my mom and forgive her in the same light.  Now today my dad who is terminally ill, from complications of diabetes and a severe stroke, comforts me consoles me and is one of my biggest supporters spiritually, physically, emotionally and soulfully! My father is now who I draw my strength from as well.




By Natacha Pannell


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