Washington DC’s Secret Landmarks

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(DC legends mural outside of Ben’s Chilli Bowl Washington, DC. Photo by: Patricia Medina/ChattyPattyDC)

Each day of the year tourists pour into Washington, DC to gaze at the historic monuments that the city is known for. But less than ten minutes away there are the landmarks that native Washingtonians are familiar with, the odes to history that they pass on their way to work every day. In a city that is ever changing where the populace was once predominantly Black, the new residents stroll by reminders of the capital’s former beat. All the while, Black neighborhoods are diminishing, taking rich DC culture along with it.

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(Women’s Rights mural on Florida Ave. NW Washington, DC. Photo by: Patricia Medina/ChattyPattyDC)

Native Washingtonians who once lived in affordable communities and public housing are seeing their communities demolished and replaced with pop up apartments and condos. Public housing apartments are becoming few and far between and homes that once were 100K have skyrocketed to close to 800k. Urban renewal replaces the middle class, and strips a community of its original identity.

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(DC History mural in Ben Ali Way alley. Photo by: Patricia Medina/ChattyPattyDC)

But if you look closely you can still see the imprint left behind from Washington’s most resilient people. Murals that paint stories of melancholy and joy and of perseverance can still be found. These rare gems highlight the many struggles of diversity and achievement in the nation’s capital. Along roads that are less traveled you can find stories painted on the sides of boarded up buildings. You can also find the cities legends painted between major landmarks and restaurants. These unique works of art induce nostalgia of an old DC. One with it’s own culture, music, food and dialect.

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(New Marvin Gaye mural on S st NW Washington, DC. Photo by: Patricia Medina/ChattyPattyDC)

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(Gagged George Washington represents the many Washingtonians who feel silenced during the cities time of change. Photo by: Patricia Medina/ChattyPattyDC)

Where corner stores are replaced with bistros and public housing is replaced with craft coffee shops, you can still find signs of the former residents along the cracks in the brick buildings. These murals line the walls of Washington, DC like ancient hieroglyphics, for the next generation to find and share their stories.

What About Black on Black Crime?

Racial tensions have been boiling below the surface in America since the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (public record). In recent history, the media has taken a specific interest of racial injustice and alleged police brutality. Celebrities have also become more vocal regarding social issues in America. From Beyoncé’s Super Bowl backlash to Kendrick Lamar’s artistic expression at the Grammy’s, Black artists have taken notice of the concerns of their communities.

With the rise in media coverage of these injustices many conservatives counter with the question “but what about Black on Black Crime?” The Black on Black crime comment is a loaded question because there are so many influences on crime in urban communities. Urban communities that are predominantly Black are densely populated with a higher populace than suburban communities that are predominantly white. Additionally, many Black neighborhoods are over policed due to stereotypical beliefs and the sheer number of people that live within those communities. According to statistics, Blacks are more likely to be arrested, convicted and sentenced (public record) than any other race. However, those same statistics would show that Blacks are no more likely to commit crime than whites (public record). Why the disparity?

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Former officer and military veteran Asa Smith shed some light on policing tactics. When asked if police officers were rewarded for arrests he replied, “Officers are instructed to meet quotas. If you are not making arrests it appears as if you are not doing your job.”

When asked if he thought crime in Black communities was higher, he responded, “It’s not necessarily higher, it’s made to seem that way. The disparity of arrests for drugs compared to whites is out of this world. Blacks are portrayed as bad, evil people but that’s not the case. Poverty causes crime. If you take away a person’s ability to take care of themselves you will always get higher crime rates.”

The criminal justice system has been accused of making a profit from convicting minorities. Recently a judge in Pennsylvania was sentenced to 28 years in prison for accepting bribes from juvenile detention developers and then housing juveniles in those very detention centers. It is not far fetched to assume that this is not the first instance of law enforcement abusing power for financial gain at the expense of a minority group.

An anonymous veteran police officer also shared comments on factors that he felt contributed to the criminalization of African Americans. “Part of doing your job is to locate criminals and to put them in jail. As an officer, you hope that you are making quality arrests.” He went on to say, “I don’t think crime is higher in urban environments. It’s over policing in those environments. The more people you have in a community, the more police you will have assigned and the larger the department. It doesn’t mean that crime isn’t happening in the suburbs.” When asked about Black on Black crime he replied, “People commit crimes against people that they live in close proximity to. Most people aren’t driving to other cities to commit crimes. Titling it Black on Black crime is propaganda to justify the mistreatment of Black people. It paints the picture that Blacks are prone to violence, anger, and physical altercation. This leads to fear.” In response to police brutality he stated, “The media portrays people in a certain way. So an officer that is not from the community in which he or she polices may build their perception from media and react in fear.”

Crime occurs across the country but Black on Black crime is normally brought up to silence those who would dare speak out against brutality. No one ever mentions white on white crime or Asian on Asian crime. Crime among other communities is simply crime no matter where or to whom it occurs. We must begin to treat all Americans as citizens instead of crime probabilities.

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The Fresh Prince of Media

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Daniel Philip, better known as Aladdin “Prince of the Airwayz”, is a popular on air personality at Power 95.3 in Orlando, Florida. He got his start as a radio intern in his hometown of Washington, DC. During his internship Aladdin answered phones, solicited contest winners, produced content for the morning show, and ran promotions among other duties. He also filled in for on air personalities until he was hired permanently at WPGC 95.5. Two years after starting in radio, he landed his own overnight show.

Aladdin’s talents do not end in radio. He has become a social media sensation known for his witty and comical celebrity interviews. He’s also a philanthropist and public speaker. Aladdin spends much of his off time with high school and college students, encouraging them to follow their dreams. He often works with at risk youth in an effort to guide them back to the right path.

“It’s rewarding for me to speak to children. It feels good to know that I made a difference in their lives and that I inspired them to make better decisions,” Aladdin shared.

The popular disc jockey also described the competitive nature of radio. When asked about the ups and downs of the radio world, Aladdin disclosed that the internal politics are messy at times. “Companies want to do more with less. So if someone can run the show and be on air, that’s more beneficial,” he stated.

When asked what an aspiring on air personality could do to succeed Aladdin shared, “when chasing your dreams you have to decide to make it work. Focus on your Plan A and trust that you can achieve your goals.”

Aladdin also shared that interning at a radio station or a school of broadcasting would be great starting points to learn the basics of radio broadcast.

Of course radio can seem like a dream job but as with any job, there are down sides. Aladdin shared that his worst radio was being released from the highly rated Donnie Simpson Morning Show.

“The producers wanted to go in a different direction. At the time, I thought it was the worst thing that could ever happen” he said. “In retrospect it turned out to be the best thing for me because I landed the overnight show and I was able to develop as a personality.”

With new technological advances, the future of radio is ever changing. “Radio is evolving and changing with the times and has a bright future,” Aladdin said. “My goal is to use radio as a platform to transition into TV. In ten years you will see me on a red carpet as a correspondent,” he stated.

To hear Aladdin, be sure to tune into Power 95.3 from 7PM to 12AM Monday through Friday.

Changing the Narrative: Promoting Philanthropy Among Millennials

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(Chatty Patty and activists Vada Taylor, Jay Millz, and Adding Influence)

There is a turning tide in America and a new Civil Rights era is upon us. From gay rights and women’s rights legislations to protesting the treatment of people of color, there are many issues to be resolved. The changing tide requires a different type of activism than that of the past. Younger activists are technologically savvy and find creative ways to push their message. On the other hand, there are those that believe that millennials are lazy complainers who do little to resolve issues. Social media and the use of technology have proven that to be false. Young people are using technology as a tool for activism by organizing grassroots campaigns and spreading information through social media and technology. In times of crisis social media can bring people together in an effort to provide aid.

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(Chatty Patty and Dj Heat)

In Flint, MI a water crisis has been bubbling over for the past two years. The public water supply in Flint is contaminated with lead and the water is not potable. The crisis has only recently made national news, and in the days that followed there have been an outpouring of donations. I was recently invited to participate in such an event called Flow 4 Flint that was organized by a group of young musicians, artists, and activists. The event was a two-day concert that called for donations of water and supplies for the citizens of Flint. The event was promoted on social media outlets such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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(Chatty Patty and Reverend Tony Lee)

I had the pleasure of interviewing many of the event organizers and participants. One of the attendees, Reverend Tony Lee of Community of Hope AME Church, spoke with me about the tragedy in Flint, MI and the importance of philanthropy. “What we find here are people coming together to encourage and strengthen those who aren’t even in their neighborhood or their region because we are all in the fabric of humanity,” Reverend Tony Lee said of the event. Reverend Lee disagreed that young people of color did not support their community. “Time and time again we actually do come out, but we get so focused on the negative stories that we don’t focus on the positive.”

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(Tweet from Congresswoman Eleanor Norton)

Throughout the two days, people of all backgrounds contributed to the cause. At the end of the event 10k bottles of water, two thousand dollars and a bevy of sanitary items as well as baby items were collected. The items were then driven to Flint, MI and dropped off at a local church. Additionally, the event made national news and the video footage that the organizers produced went viral. The group is planning another event on March 19th and will promote it via social media using the hashtag #hiphop4flint.

See the full interview here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnfKIrJPgIk

Black Girls Rock, Too

Black Girls Rock, Too

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 28: (L-R) Dr. Helene Gayle, Erykah Badu, Nadia Lopez, Michelle Obama, Regina King, Tracee Ellis Ross, Beverly Bond, Debra Lee, Ava DuVernay, and Cicely Tyson appear onstage during "Black Girls Rock!" BET Special at NJPAC  Prudential Hall on March 28, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Brad Barket/BET/Getty Images for BET)
 (L-R) Dr. Helene Gayle, Erykah Badu, Nadia Lopez, Michelle Obama, Regina King, Tracee Ellis Ross, Beverly Bond, Debra Lee, Ava DuVernay, and Cicely Tyson appear onstage during “Black Girls Rock!” BET Special at NJPAC Prudential Hall on March 28, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Brad Barket/BET/Getty Images for BET)

In western culture the standard of beauty has always been blonde, thin, and light skinned. When accomplishing a google search for beautiful women, Black women are not reflected in the top images. In an era where society constantly inundates us with images of European beauty standards, it’s important for women of color to see their beauty and worth reflected in media. These standards are pushed on Black women as children well into adulthood. European standards impact self worth and self-acceptance among people of color worldwide. In places like South Africa, Black women are lightening their skin with lightening creams because they believe that their dark skin is unattractive. Negative stereotypes have impacted how women of color see themselves as well as how they are seen by others.

Black women were once put down for their ethnic features to now only see those same features praised on women of other races. Where women of color were once teased for having full lips, women are now injecting their lips to look fuller. Where larger derrieres were once considered unsightly on Black women, today women of all races are ditching their dieting to embrace curvier figures. Black hairstyles that were considered unprofessional and “ghetto” are now thought to be fashion forward and trendy on women of other ethnic backgrounds. Black women are under represented in television and films and until recently, were rarely found in leading roles. Once Black women are given roles, they are pushed aside for their white counterparts.

Movements like Black Girls Rock and Black Girl Magic were created to celebrate the beauty, power, resilience and universal awesomeness of Black women. These movements are not intended to put down women of other ethnic groups, but instead, to praise the group of women that receive the least amount of validation from mainstream society. Unfortunately the movements are met with backlash from people who believe the empowerment of Black women is somehow reverse racism. With the negative comments that many young Black women in media receive for their appearance, their natural hair, or for simply being themselves, these movements are necessary. They remind us that we are just as excellent as our fairer skinned counterparts. Our self-affirmation does not mean the negation of other ethnic groups. It is clear that white girls are awesome; media reminds us of their greatness at every turn. These movements are simply saying Black girls rock, too.

Black Girls Rock, Too

Black Women and Awards Shows

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This past Sunday the beautiful Taraji P. Henson won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Cookie Lyon on Empire. Social media erupted in praise for the actress because her Golden Globe win was long overdue. Taraji has worked in the entertainment industry for 20 years, taking on many roles that display her incredible range as an actress. With the excitement of Taraji’s win also came criticism. Taraji has played a number of dynamic characters in her career. It came as a surprise that her first major mainstream win was for a character that has long been debated as a stereotypical trope. Her character as Cookie is the archetypal sassy black woman that doesn’t take any mess, a depiction that has been long standing in film.

Along with the sassy black woman trope, or sapphire, are other popular stereotypes of black women perpetuated throughout film and television. The most popular of these stereotypes are the mammy, and the angry black woman or jezebel. The mammy depiction is usually a larger woman who is subservient and ignorant while the jezebel although beautiful, is overtly sexual. In some instances these stereotypes overlap. These tropes are constantly rewarded by mainstream awards shows, but why are these characters lauded? If we analyze the major wins of black women in film, the majority of those wins are based on stereotypical characters. The praise of these portrayals reinforces negative stereotypes that have become popular over time. These victories come off as backhanded compliments given the roles being rewarded. Are black women winning these honors because the awards panels believe that the characters are accurate portrayals of African American women? Although many of these characters are scripted and are not based on any real person, their depictions still impact the way in which black women are viewed and their own perceptions of self.

Receiving mainstream accolades is bittersweet because on the one hand we are happy to be invited to the table. On the other hand, the accolades are given for roles that do not always reflect our best work. This is why it is imperative that we control our own narrative. How we tell our stories and how we allow our stories to be told is our responsibility. Although Cookie Lyon is an entertaining character, we need more dynamic characters represented on television to help break the stereotype of the attitudinal black woman. We need a balance of black women in film because how we are portrayed in film directly correlates to how we are treated in reality. We can control the narrative by being more selective of the roles we accept.

Black Women and Mainstream Awards Shows

You’re Pretty! Are you mixed?

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As a mother, my pride and joy are my beautiful children. I love the compliments I get for how well behaved my children are, and how well I take care of them. What I don’t appreciate are the comments that insinuate that the only reason they’re beautiful is because their father is fair skinned. You know the comments, “Oh your daughter has that GOOD hair,” “Your son is going to get all the girls with that light skin.” WHAT? First of all, there’s NO SUCH THING AS GOOD HAIR. Stop saying that. I’ve seen plenty of people with what’s considered “good hair” with dry, brittle ends and absolutely no edges. I’ve seen people with thick, kinky hair that was full and healthy. Are you saying if my daughter’s hair were coarser she would be less beautiful? Or if my son were darker, he would be less handsome? Even family members have made disparaging comments about what they feel makes my children gorgeous, not realizing that while praising the more Eurocentric traits they are really saying “thank God they don’t look Black”.

I also find myself constantly defending stereotypical Hispanic features. Because everyone assumes that if you’re Hispanic you’re supposed to look like J. Lo or Sofia Vergara, ignoring the Celia Cruz’s and Tego Calderon’s as people of color. It’s as if people truly didn’t know that America was not the only stop in the African slave trade. Many Hispanics and Latinos refuse to acknowledge their African ancestry altogether.

I argue with my fair skinned friends about how they talk about their looks. I’ve heard one of my biracial friends make a comment about how all the men are on her because she’s a redbone. Not because of how attractive she is, her personality, or her gorgeous body, but because of her skin complexion. That’s what she values about herself, her skin tone. As if she’d be ugly if she were any darker.

I find myself rolling my eyes on vacation when my lighter skinned friends make comments about how they don’t want to stay out in the sun too long because they don’t want to get “black”.

But what grinds my gears is when I go out, and the “compliment” I get is “You’re pretty, what are you mixed with?” It’s as if being Black is not enough or somehow inherently ugly. That is not a compliment. What you’re doing is silently putting down one group of people in an attempt to praise another group. What if the person you’re praising is not mixed? Is the assumption that they were mixed the only reason that you found them attractive in the first place?

Yes, I know that biracial and multiracial people are beautiful. But as shocking as it may be, there are very beautiful Black people who are not of mixed race. Save your backhanded compliments and fetishizing of mixed race people. If someone is beautiful, let them be beautiful because God made them that way. Not because you can only justify their beauty by assuming they aren’t fully Black.

Buying While Black

Black Business

Recently a good friend of mine made a Facebook post stating that there were only three black-owned grocery stores in the entire United States. Immediately I met his post with skepticism and thought “here we go, posting without facts.” I instantly decided to research the validity of his post and to my dismay, he was wrong: there weren’t three black-owned grocery stores, there were only two.

Earlier this month, I debated with an acquaintance about the importance of buying from black owners and supporting the black community. My friend, who is not black, felt it was prejudice only to support black businesses. She felt that we should support all small businesses collectively as Americans. Although her heart was in the right place, I argued that it was important for me to support black businesses to keep the black community afloat. When I spend money in Whole Foods, whose community am I helping? How can I not feel a sense of guilt when I spend my dollars with companies owned by millionaires who prosper and drive home to their mansions while the communities that I’m from are in shambles?

Too many times have I driven through areas in cities like Baltimore and Washington, DC and have witnessed the amount of rundown, abandoned buildings. Storefronts closed due to lack of community support. Over the summer, I visited Baltimore and was shocked to see the amount of dilapidated homes scattered throughout the city. I know very well what happens when stores and homes are left vacant. Neighborhoods that once thrived with people of color are bought at low cost by developers. The remaining citizens of that community are either bought out or forced out of their homes. High rise condos and new homes that are more expensive than the average citizen can afford are then built, increasing property value, rent, and property taxes. Low-income and middle-class families that cannot afford the increased prices are forced out of the community, never to return. This action is called gentrification.

Many shine up gentrification as this great wave that saves minority communities as if people of color should be thankful for it. On the popular website Slate.com, writer John Butin attempted to discredit the negatives of gentrification. One of the top comments on John Butin’s article read “whites moving out of black communities = white flight (racism), whites moving into black communities = gentrification (racism).” The sarcasm in the comment displays the commenters lack of understanding towards what is truly happening in these communities. When whites left communities during integration, they moved because they were worried that their property value would decrease. Additionally, they did not want to live near African Americans and the perceived problems we would bring. The influx of whites moving back to these communities is not because they want to rub shoulders with African Americans, but because they see an opportunity to make a profit. What happens to the blacks of that community once prices increase? Are the wealthy showing concern for the displaced minorities?

John Butin also expressed gentrification as a myth. Tell that to the low-income families of Washington, DC’s Barry Farms, Lincoln Heights, and the other 40,000 Black residents that have left the District of Columbia in the past decade. Clearly he has never seen the film “Southwest Remembered” or heard of the demolition of Temple Courts apartments. The demolition of Temple Courts is a key indicator that gentrification is very real.

Temple Courts apartments were low-income homes that were affected by urban renewal in 2008. Developers demolished the complex promising to build a new and improved “mixed-income” development. Developers promised displaced families that they could return to the community once construction was complete. The construction of the “mixed-income” development never happened. What was built were luxury apartments where 70 percent of the units are sold at market rate while only 59 units were actual replacements for the original Temple Courts residents. What became of the rest of those displaced families?

The same happened to Arthur Capper housing. In 2001, 707 households were displaced when the city demolished the development. A senior building housing 162 units has been constructed since the demolition, but the rest of the 545 displaced families have been waiting well over a decade for the promised redevelopment.

So how will the support of black-owned businesses help? For one, many of the stores in the black communities will prosper from the patronage. The families that own these stores live in the community as well. When the stores lack business, they are forced to close. The forced closures impact the owner’s ability to make ends meet. Jobs that were provided by these local stores will become nonexistent. Additionally, residents that would normally shop at these stores must find alternate ways to receive their goods. As a result, the money flowing within the community will now be spent elsewhere. If we can keep money in our communities, we can prevent the closure of black-owned businesses and ensure that our communities continue to thrive. Instead of giving developers the small window of opportunity they need to take over our communities for profit.

Society tells blacks that we are needed to support the struggle of others, but when our communities are in need, everyone else remains silent. Our neighborhoods are suffering and being destroyed while we are being forced out of the places we once called home. It’s imperative that we support each other and take care of our neighborhoods. Supporting black-owned businesses is simply one solution. No matter how successful I become as an individual, I will not feel comfortable until I can witness the success of my people as a whole. Once the black community is strengthened, we can discuss our inclusion in America.

How One Millennial Aims to Inspire a New Generation

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For most African American males in inner cities across America, the goal is to become a rapper or an NBA star. For many, those dreams never come true. Enter Devonte’ Young, a 27 year old entrepreneur from Capital Heights, MD. Devonte’ had basketball aspirations as a teenager, becoming widely popular during his high school basketball career.

After high school, Devonte’ encountered many setbacks and a few legal issues that pushed him to step outside of his comfort zone. He knew that he had to make a change to reach the level of success that he desired. He overcame his obstacles and pushed himself to complete college.

When he completed college he began developing an idea for basketball clinics to train young, aspiring athletes. With his interactions with NBA stars, he knew it was imperative to teach young athletes more than just the skill of basketball. He wanted his students to be prepared for life off the court. He started Beyond Basketball Training, an outreach program that uses basketball as a tool to reach youths.

“Outside of the basketball training, the kids talk to me when they have issues. I consider myself a mentor to them; all the kids can reach me and talk to me,” He said. “They see what I do outside of basketball and it motivates them to keep going and work hard.”

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Devonte’ is now making waves with his new clothing line, Enspire Them. “The mission is to inspire others to become successful,” he explained. “I want to push young men towards starting businesses instead of robbing, stealing, and killing for money. I’m from an area where we don’t know anything about entrepreneurship so I’m going to be the first to show the youth what it’s really about by building a team, building a brand, and then becoming successful.”

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Although he has found much success with his new apparel he admits that developing his startup was tough. “The toughest challenge I encountered was trying to do everything by myself. I have a team that I trust to build with,” he stated.

Devonte’s merchandise can be purchased on enspirethem.com where you can find hats and outerwear for the winter. He will continue his Beyond Basketball Training clinics in Surprise, Arizona, Oklahoma City, and the DC area next spring with other cities to be announced in the summer.

Sip-N-Paint Press Release

10Blessings10KSurvivorsLogo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

                                                                              

Contact: Patricia C. Medina                                              

ChattyPattyDC

301-213-2172

chattypattydc@yahoo.com

           

 

SIP-N-PAINT MASQUERADE PARTY

 

Clinton, MD, 8 November, 2015 – Natasha T. Brown of 10 Blessings, 10K survivors organized the first annual “Sip-N-Paint Masquerade Party”. The party was held on Saturday October 31st, 2015 in support of domestic violence and sexual abuse survivors. Wine and light hors d’oeuvres were served for the event attendees. Tickets event were $25.00 and donations of all amounts were accepted from those who were unable to attend. The event was hosted by local blogger Chatty Patty with featured artist Sugg of 3rd Eye Art. The event featured guest speakers Ms. Rockville United States, Kena Hodges, and Mia Wright of “WeCancerVive”. The speakers shared their stories of survival with the attendees and encouraged the support of women in abusive relationships. The overall event fostered a journey of healing for domestic violence survivors and the family and friends who support the victims.

 

“Paint for a purpose! Empowering 10,000 domestic violence victims to break free.”

 

Proceeds were used for the implementation of a 12-week healing program for abuse survivors. The women in the program are victims of sexual trauma and domestic abuse. The healing program will be offered at Affirming All Women House of Healing in Capitol Heights, MD beginning November 16, 2015.

 

About 10 Blessings, 10K survivors:

 

Natasha T. Brown is the bestselling author of 10 Blessings of Betrayal. She also started the charity organization 10 Blessings, 10k survivors in support of victims of abuse.

 

For more information Natasha T. Brown and 10 Blessings, 10K survivors,

visit: http://natashatbrown.com/10blessings-com/

 

 

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