Posts tagged "Victoria’s Corner"

Victoria’s Corner

“Victoria, have you finished your speech?” I hear this question almost daily from my mom. The answer is usually the same, “no”. Recently, I showed her my speech for the radio segment I do on Saturdays, and she totally lost it. Everything about it was wrong. I stood there feeling like I never wanted to write another speech in my life. When I first started doing speeches, it was fun. I loved writing, and public speaking was taking it to another level. In the beginning, I was very blunt in my speeches. My mom showed me how to get my point across without hurting someone’s feelings. I would write, “You should stop having children. Get off drugs, and go to a rehab.” Mom would rewrite it like this, “Our men need to start being responsible when it comes to having children. Young people need their fathers, drug and alcohol free.” See the difference. According to my mom, if you make the audience you are trying to reach angry, then they will not get the message. When I was writing that particular speech, I really didn’t care about the drug dealers, the drug users and the dead beat dads’ feelings. I was thinking about all of the little children that had been suffering from the day they were born. I liked my speech better, but I changed it.


Now almost a year later and mom is still correcting some of my speeches. I felt like such a failure when she was pointing out the mistakes. I was also angry. She’s worried about being tactful when it comes to other people’s feelings but not mine. While she was still fussing, I interrupted loudly and said, “Don’t you think I want to be able to write like you? Don’t you think I want to do this all on my own? Do you know how this make me feels. I hate asking for help.” My mom did something she hardly ever does. She stopped talking. She looked at me with a shocked expression. I’m praying please God don’t let her kill me for screaming and raising my voice at her. In an unusually calm voice, she says, “Victoria why didn’t you tell me this before? I would love to give you writing lessons. I will get you professional help, but I would love to do it until I find a good class for you.” It took a few minutes for me to understand what she was saying, because I was expecting the “if you raise your voice at me again you will be a homeless 12 year old”, speech. Because I admitted that I needed help and really wanted to learn, my mom was excited.


The first step to being better at anything is the desire to want to be better. I want to be an investigative reporter so being a good writer is critical. I’m really looking forward to having classes with my mom. I hope she has patience with me. A teacher needs patience. She has already given me my first lesson. When I watch television, I block out everything. I’m like a zombie when watching a Disney movie. That is the reason my mother does not let me watch much television. First lesson was to concentrate on writing with the same intensity I have when watching television. Block everything out except the subject you are writing about. I hated my first lesson.

The second lesson was to get back the passion that I use to have for writing and speaking. Go back to what made me want to do public speaking in the first place and recapture that moment. That moment was when I was 10, and I gave a speech at Denny Moe’s Superstar Barbershop in Harlem. I cried when I told the audience that I didn’t have a father to take me to the Father/Daughter Dance. When I finished the speech, a man came to me with shades on because he didn’t want anyone to know he was crying. He said if he had heard me speak earlier in his life, he would have made better decisions. That’s when I knew I could use my voice to make a difference. I love talking about that day because it was such a powerful moment in my life.


People always ask me how I got started at the National Action Network. I had been going to the National Action Network all my life. Nobody knew I was alive except four women from the women’s auxiliary committee. May, 2011, the youth director asked me to play Rev Al Sharpton in a mock protest. She gave me a short speech. I had 15 minutes to become familiar with it. My mother didn’t think I could do it and offered another boy $20 to play Rev. Sharpton. He told her no, and I took the stage. I knocked it out the ball park. The NAN staff members noticed me for the first time. About three weeks after that, I became Dominique Sharpton’s intern for the summer. July, 2011, I started speaking on Rev Sharpton’s Saturday morning rally. The first week I was so nervous, I couldn’t eat breakfast. By the 3rd week I had no fear, and doing the radio segment was something I looked forward to every week. People congratulated me and told me that they listen to me every Saturday.


What I have learned is that people will build you up and then pull you down. I don’t know why. Sometimes people think if a friend or love one starts to do well in life they will not be the same toward them or they will not have time for them.

People that don’t want other people to be happy are usually unhappy themselves. That’s a shame. Misery loves company is not just a saying. Unfortunately, it is a true statement. We really have to start being nicer to each other. Anyway, back to writing and me questioning myself if I want to be an investigative reporter after all.

When people ask me if I write my own material, I hate that I can’t say I do it all on my own. That is the first question most people ask me. It makes me feel like they don’t think I’m smart enough to do it on my own. My mother made me feel a lot better when I told her how I felt. Her response, “My job is to help you and guide you. I know what you are going to say before you say it. I know you better than you know yourself. You know what you want to write and say, but sometimes you need help in putting it out there. That is where I come in. The President has a speech writer. Your auntie is one of the best legal secretaries in NYC, but she ask me for a advice when it comes to writing a letter to school or to a company about bad customer service. Most parents come to me when they need a reference for their children. People that have been speaking for years still ask me to go over their speeches. I can write, but I’m a horrible speller, so I go to your auntie when it comes to that. As long as you try to do it on your own first, I will be here for you. I will be there for you when you need help on your college essays. I will help you, but I can’t do it for you.”


My third lesson, instead of trying to remember a long response, get a tape recorder and record the person. Also a tip from mom, put the recorder under your pillow. Listen to speeches while you are sleeping so it will go into your conscience. I have not tried that yet. I will let you know if it works. My homework assignment is to read The Speeches of Malcolm X. The reason, to be the best, study the best. Nobody was better at speeches than Malcolm X. “We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on us.” What a line!

When it came to my June blog, I didn’t know what I wanted to write about. So many times when I’m walking down the street or at school I can think of a thousand things I want to blog about. When I get home in front of the computer I go blank. I call it, “blog block”. Mom told me to blog about what had just happened with us, word for word, thought for thought. Let everyone know that it is okay to ask for help.

I’m going to make sure I’m never again short on material. The next time I’m walking down the street and I see something I want to write about or speak on, I will jot it down right then and there. I have a lot of future material like, the negative effect legalizing marijuana will have on the black community, the stupidity of Adidas slave sneakers, my campaign against child sex trafficking, and writing letters to bring back Family Matter reruns. Writing is going to be fun again. See you in July.

– Victoria Pannell

Victoria’s Corner

Hello Coremag readers,


I apologize. I’m a month late for Victoria’s Corner. The only thing my mother hates more than being late, is an excuse for being late. So okay, I will not give you an excuse. I will give you an explanation. From April 10 until April 15, I was in Washington DC for the National Action Network annual convention. Since I’m the Northeast Regional Director, I was required to be there. It was 6:00am wakeup time and 11:30pm bedtime every day. There was almost no time to do anything else but convention business. On April 14th, the last day of the convention, I met the editors and founders of, Eden and Ellisa Oyewo. They are beautiful, smart, and so nice. They are, “the real deal”. My mom and I spent some time with Ms Eden and Ms Ellisa, and it hit me that they were excitingly living their dreams. They shared some of their future plans with my mom. You could see the excitement on their faces, as they talked about their goals. They have a road map for the future direction of, which they share, and a road map for their individual careers. All week I had been around people that wanted more for themselves and more for their people.


On April 15, we arrived home to see the same people standing around outside on the corner, or gathered in the park across the street. What a difference from when you are around people of empowerment to when you are around people of acceptance. Empowerment is mapping out a course for your life and going for it. Acceptance is whatever life is giving or taking from you at that moment, you just accept it. My mother has a great analogy for this. You get fired or laid off. You accept it, and go sign up for unemployment, food stamps, and anything else that is being given to the unemployed. You didn’t want the job in the first place. You didn’t want to be the only one of your friends to miss the House Wives, Bad Girls and Basketball Wives marathons on television. Okay, now let’s look at empowerment. You get fired or laid off. You go to your holiness spot. “God, Lord, Jesus, Budda, Allah, or Jehovah. This has sprung up on me. I know with my faith and your guidance, I’m going to make it. This is my chance to do what always wanted to do. I’m going tomorrow to sign up for my much deserved unemployment benefits. I’m going to apply for the food assistance program which I know is going to be temporary. Then I’m going back to school, find a job I really like or start my own business. You got this because I believe in You and I believe in me. Amen, I pray”. My mother can always come up with good analogies.

When I came back to my community it was like I was seeing the acceptance minded people for the first time. Without visions or plans, you really are just wondering around in existence. I see grown ups that have never left New York City. They get up and do the same things day in and day out. They have either lost their purpose, focus or their faith. We have adults that have never held a job. They have never known the excitement of having money they have earned. They have never had a credit card or bank account. They have never lived in their own place. Some don’t have identification beside the government benefits card. That is so sad. Why have we stopped dreaming? Why have we stopped living?

I can’t wait to grow up to live out my dreams. Recently a friend of mine moved into a beautiful one bedroom apartment with a terrace. I had so much fun furniture shopping with her. All I could think about was decorating my future dorm room or my first apartment. I thought about the colors I wanted and where the television with surround sound would be. My friends would come over for movie nights or to play cards. It wasn’t as much fun thinking about the dorm room, because I know that comes with a roommate. I’m still excited about college, roommate and all. I want to attend Harvard or Barnard College. My grades have to go up a little bit to get into either, but I’m determined. My mother is quick to tell me to stay out of trouble so I can fulfill my dreams. Sometimes when I’m playing with my American Girl Doll, Joy, I pretend she is my little girl. I want two children when I’m around 35. I want to have one child and adopt another. Of course my little girl will have a father to carry her on his shoulder and call her princess or baby girl. My little boy will have a dad to play baseball and teach him to be good to females. I love thinking and dreaming about my future. Every once and awhile I get scared that something will get in the way of my dreams. Then I tell myself, “forget that”. I’m going for mine.

Fear is holding so many of us back. We have to step out on faith. These days I find myself fascinated by Harriett Tubman because she didn’t let fear stop her. I’m sure she knew the danger she was placing herself in. The dream of, “freedom”, was stronger than the nightmare of slavery. Faith replaced her fear. My mother has a friend that has 3 children. The friend had lost a prestigious job, was unhappy and facing a life of permanent government assistance. She didn’t want that for her children. She went on line, found an apartment in another state, left everything behind and took the Amtrak south to her new life. She had absolutely no furniture for the new place, only a little bit of money and just enough clothes to fill up 3 suitcases. Three years later my mother’s friend has a new career with perks like expense accounts, health insurance and business travel. She has a car and is building a new home. Her children are doing wonderful and are very involved in their new school. She tells everyone that it was all faith.

Mom is quick to point out faith without works is dead. I know I have to get good grades and stay our of trouble. That part belongs to me. Hold on to your dreams. Don’t lose your faith, and don’t lose your focus. We get so caught up in nonsense that we forget our purpose. I want to stop sex trafficking of women and children. I want to bring awareness to the mass killing in the Congo. I want my own foundation. I want to save our post offices from being shut down. I really want to decorate my first apartment. I can’t let foolishness like light skin, dark skin, short hair, long hair, peer pressure, he said or she said, who likes me or who does not like me, get in the way. I have causes that need awareness and future color schemes to pick out. Talk to you in June.

-Victoria Pannell

Victoria’s Corner


Latest | by — February 20, 2012

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Hello Coremag readers,

I’m beyond thrilled that I have been invited by the Coremag staff to write a monthly blog. I don’t take it for granted that I have been given an outlet to reach thousands of young females on a monthly basis. The thought of it also makes me a little nervous. How many girls are interested in the opinion of a preteen 12 year old? Well all it takes is one. If something I write can make a difference to just one young person than the jittery nerves will have to take a back seat. My faith has to replace my fear. Yet as I set in front of the computer typing and asking my mom for help I realize the jittery nerves did not take a back seat. They were front and center. Using one of my favorite spiritual lines, “my faith has replaced my fear”, wasn’t working as I battled what would be my first blog. I’m constantly told by my mother that first impressions are so important. So you know my first blog has to be on point. “Mom, please help me.” As she gives me that, ‘this is your project’, look she asks what is the biggest issue I face as young girl. Ahh there it is, bullying.

I can’t look at the news anymore when it comes to young people killing themselves because they have been bullied. Maybe I have a hard time watching or reading about bullying because to think that someone can be driven to that state of mind by another classmate is so frightening. As someone that has been bullied a lot in school, I don’t like to think about it getting so bad that it could drive me to suicide.

I have come to the realization that it seems to get worst in high school. The bullying in middle school has been bad enough so that is not a comforting thought. It does not matter that I have been on television. It does not matter that I’m a youth leader for Rev Sharpton’s National Action Network. It does not matter that I’m a child. What matters is I know like most of you what it feels like to be bullied. What we have to be careful with is not to become like the people bullying us. This is not the time to apply the saying. “ if you can’t beat them join them”.


Some times the kids that are being bullied do become bullies themselves. They feel if they are doing the bullying than maybe the bullying against them will stop. I even very, very briefly thought about becoming friends with the mean girls in school so they would stop picking on me. I realized all I would be doing is making someone else’s life miserable and being a part of the problem instead of the solution. I hate to think that I said something to someone else that brought their life down instead of saying something to bring their life up. Also I would be a homeless 12 year old bully. My mother doesn’t play that. If there are any girls reading this blog that bullies, tease or pick on other people please stop.


You might think you are being funny because other kids in the class laugh when you say something mean to someone but you are not being funny. You are being cruel. The kids that laugh when you bully someone only do so because they are glad they are not the subject of your bullying. That nervous laughter is a sign of relief that it wasn’t them being picked on. How miserable someone must be when making fun of people is their only form of communication. Kids are losing their lives because a miserable person have bullied them to the point of not wanting to live anymore.


How many kids have switched schools because they could not deal with the teasing anymore? How many young people’s lives have been turned upside down because of bullying? Social media has taken bullying to new heights of despair and made it easier for bullies to pick on others even when they are far away from their victims. Let’s try to understand what makes a person a bully. Usually they are just unhappy with themselves. Because they are miserable they want someone else to be miserable also. Hence, they pick on someone so they can see the look of misery in that person face and that makes them feel as if they are not the only unhappy person in the world. It also gives them a false sense of control and power. Bullies also pick on people to get attention. If saying something mean is the only way for you to get attention then you need to find a new outlet. Pick up a skill or hobby and become good at it. Trust me, positive attention feels way more better than negative attention. If you are a bully ask yourself why you feel the need to make someone unhappy. Then don’t be afraid to find help so you can stop being a destructive person. There is nothing wrong in asking for therapy. It is better to get mental help now than to be dead later because you picked on someone that had nothing else to lose in life and they decided to do you harm.


Recently a girl called me a freak and the whole class laughed. Yet this freak, as she called me, stood at the National Mall in our nation’s capital, Washington DC on October 15th and delivered a speech before thousands on national television. How ironic that now I’m blogging about her and other bullies like her. She had an audience of a few. I have an audience of thousands. I have empowered myself against bullies. Calling me names doesn’t change what is on my birth certificate which is Victoria Pannell. It doesn’t take away my sense of who I am. I will not let it stop me from being the creative person I was meant to be. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t always feel as strong as I do now Bullying still hurts, but I deal with it in a different way. At one point I was bullied so much I didn’t want to go to school. I don’t get bullied as much but it still happens. It helps that I have great mentors and other young people around me that rather uplift than put down. Not everyone has that circle of support. Create that circle. Find other victims of bullying and befriend them. There is comfort and strength in unity. It also empowers me when I realize that bullies are not born but created by circumstances and pain in their life. I refuse to be bullied now the way I was before. I will do something about it if it gets to the point where it interferes with my life.


There are different levels of bullying. If you are bullied to the point of not wanting to go to school, have a drop in grades, suffering from depression or heaven forbid, you no longer want to live, tell someone. The first place to start is the principal. Put the school on notice that this is happening to you. If you don’t have a parent that will do something find some adult that has always been kind to you and notify them. You can also try your pastor, priest or bishop or someone at your place of worship. My mom has decided to take a more direct approach. If I ever get bullied again the way I use to, she is taking the bully, their guardian and the school if they didn’t help, to court. It is not that hard to start a lawsuit. You don’t need a lawyer and it is not expensive. People get paid thousands everyday from someone that caused them emotional damage. And we all know bullying is very emotionally damaging. If even if you don’t win you will have the satisfaction of knowing you did something about it.


Our educators need to stop bullying from happening in the classroom. If they have a bully in the class they need to do something about it. My teachers will call my mom for me talking in class but will not call authorities on a bully. To that I say, “No more”. The US Department of Education and local Departments of Education have to be held accountable for letting bullying continue. If they can create laws that stop prayer in schools nationwide they can create laws that will stop the bullying.


To Coremag readers don’t let a bully destroy who YOU are. Years from now when people are calling you the next Oprah or Warren Buffet, that bully that picked on you is still going to be simply known as that bully from school. To the bullies, head into a new direction and lift young people up instead of putting people down. If you have mistreated someone, say you are sorry and ask if you can start fresh. You just might end up meeting your new BFF. Even if the person you mistreated doesn’t become your friend after you apologized and stopped bullying him or her, you will probably sleep a lot better at night. Thanks for reading and see you next month. 


-Victoria Pannell