Bring Action Against Police Abuses

Kerly Suffren

S

o many individuals deserve changes but they hardly put in the effort to bring abut such demands. Many fantasize of the perfect world, a world of equal opportunities, facilities and rights for all, but every so often we are again reminded of the harsh reality of today’s non-perfect world – a world that denies such equal treatment, a world of hate and racism along with constant abuse on the minority communities. .

It’s respectable to say that our social status has improved since the days of slavery. Today, our communities strive and hunger for more respect. We desire our rights and opportunities. This community demands equal treatment, job opportunities and most of all we demand respect. In our hearts we strive to be understood. We cry out to be heard and pray that our fantasies come true. 

The United State’s society is one that is considered to be highly respected. A society which is considered to be a role model to the rest of the world. We just can’t afford to have such incidents take place, such as the one that took place on August 9th at 4 am after an outing at Brooklyn’s Club Rendezvous. A young black male was violated by the police. He was later beaten and humiliated in the precinct by being stripped of his clothes and later to have a stick forced up is rectum by officers. 

Such incidents and crimes are simply not tolerated by any community. This crime is a humiliation to our society, a humiliation to our world. These officers, the officers we pay to keep us safe, the ones we are supposed to feel secure around, are now the ones who we encounter and ask “Is this going to happen to me?” 

These crimes, though many go on unreported, are the ones we should take action against. It is embarrassing to the black community, as well as the white. These officers hold the title “New York’s Finest”. Why don’t they live up to the title? We can’t afford to have “New York’s Finest” committing the worst crimes. It’s simply unacceptable, and many others would agree. We just can’t tolerate it. 

No One Wants to Hear Me

Peterson Metellus

No one wants to hear me.
No one wants to see my tears 
when I cry
in vain, calling for
help.

You do your best
trying to stay alive 
in this horrible world 
where there is violence and crack bottles every step you take. 

When I pray to God at night, 
I say to him, 
“I’m ready to go. 
I’m ready for you to take 
my soul.”

And yet, I wake up each morning and realize I’m still here. 
That’s how I know that 
I am in this world 
to complete something. 

Something that’s taking too long. 
As each day goes by, 
I realize 
it’s my destiny, 
but what? 

I can’t act like myself 
in the streets 
because I have to keep it real. 
What the hell does that mean? 
My definition of keeping it real is getting a college diploma, taking care of my family and being a leader for tomorrow. 

But still, 

No one wants to hear me.
No one wants to see my tears 
when I cry
in vain, calling for
help.

This world has buried my thoughts 
and feelings 
deep into the earth’s core. 
I can only keep it 
to myself. 

They say you have freedom of speech, but that is all bullshit. 
Once you start to speak out 
they kill you or act like 
they don’t know anything. 

They have enslaved, 
whipped and killed my ancestors for years. 

They try to perish my history 
by giving me the wrong lessons 
and saying that 
we are all equal. 
Yeah, right. 

I’m calling for help 
and hope 
that’s something 
this world hasn’t 
forgotten. 

“Why 
can’t 

be 
heard? 

Why?”

Evolution

by Danya Steele

Passion is a bold bastard.  Beliefs are even worse.  Oh just FORGET about “Innovation” or “Creativity.”  They’re all evil.  They’re all audacious bastards intent on grabbing hold of the human heart, forcing it to beat deeper and even stronger with each enduring pulse.  Yeah that’s it– a bunch of instigators with the NERVE to inspire young NYC teens into believing that they actually have a legitimate place and power in this world.  Passion, Innovation, Creativity, and Beliefs.  What IS this?  Who gave THEM the right to motivate and empower young people to yearnfor growth?  YEARNING for growth?  This is outrageous.  Those bastards!     

Well…sorry to tell you, but here at HarlemLive, we believe in that bastard.  We embrace the strength of having a passionate belief system, we grow through innovation, and we ARE creativity.  WE ARE HARLEMLIVE; the hottest online youth magazine, created, edited, and produced by teens of NYC.        

With that said, it’s only obvious and inevitable for us to include those very facets — passion, innovation, creativity, and a strong belief system — into our everyday production.  Constant inspiration and motivation is integral to our business of creative play.  Stagnant-ism is unattractive to the long term philosophy of HarlemLive’s future. We are prolific.  We are maturing.  This upsurge of growth is within us all. Therefore, it’s only NATURAL for us to want to progress, grow, and elevate to “The next level.”

That next level…is here. HarlemLive is going VIRTUAL…almost.  In previous years, HarlemLive has met and produced out of a small … but manageable space inside of 1330 5th avenue [W. 111th St.] in Harlem.  The space wasn’t horribly difficult to work with; you could take a short-winded stretch here and there…maybe inhale a few oxygen molecules without coughing…it was…manageable.  However recently, HarlemLive, an Internetpublication, has been relocated into a completely different space — drastically confined and equipped with limited and/or nonexistent Internet access.  This is an INTERNET publication; the pure logic is dwindling.

As a multi-award winning news publication, HarlemLive’s resources are commonly overestimated.  We’re assumed to have the of any resource deemed logically fit for a publication of our caliber, but that is but only…an assumption.  Our resources are quite limited as we’ve become masters of squeezing $1.50 out of a dollar. Ironically, HarlemLive has accomplished more than what many other organizations with less of a limited resource, only dream of doing.      

Now dream this.  A designated time, place, and world where every staff member of HarlemLive delves into the surreal, conjuring up the very essence of radical creativity and innovation, fueled by the active exchange of inspiration and ideas faster than the speed of DSL.   A virtual world where all of us here at HarlemLive get together to sculpt, build, and improve the quality of HarlemLive.org, the Internet publication that we’re all so dedicated to bringing onto the bright computer screens of our readers.  As opposed to getting into futile tuffs over square tiles or issues of drastically confined space, HarlemLive is flying into the unconfined.  We are now bringing you this online youth magazine from designated bases all over New York City–our homes.  That’s versatility. 

     We’ll be producing, editing, creating, laughing, and learning online. Designated staff members have been sent home with HarlemLive equipment, ranging from MAC PCs, IBooks, to digital cameras, conditioned to only two things:  creativity and responsibility.  A goal for everyone included in this new “Digital Dash” project is to equip every HarlemLive student with DSL Internet.  Students are allowed to maintain the equipment as long as they continue to assertively put forth effort into the HarlemLive program, attend meetings, go on stories, and so on. In any event that a HarlemLive staff member refuses or fails to keep up with their part of the “Digital Dash,” equipment is reclaimed, followed by a pending suspension until further notice. But who would want to do that anyway? This is literally, a VIRTUAL REALITY, with staff members who will combine minds and equipment, both online and offline, fundamentally networking at the speed of light…all the while being granted the simple yet powerful freedom to do whatever it is they deem fit for HarlemLive production and growth. This is too good. The “completely different space” that HarlemLive has been relocated to, will now be used as storage space for library books, or a small conference room in any case that students need to meet on a more personalized one-to-one basis. 

The mere focus and concentration that goes into work when it’s accompanied by a minimized level of distraction, is enough to propel HarlemLive to even greater heights of success. The usual environment of HarlemLive is similar to any newsroom; there’s constant motion, action, and talking going on.  We’re teenagers; there’s even the idle chat factor that can slow down production.  Not anymore.  Upon entering the “virtual reality” world that we’re now creating amongst ourselves, chatting is done…with a purpose.  You’re scheduling, you’re producing, you’re directing, you’re learning, you’re growing.  This is HOT! 

So yeah…ok…I’ll admit it.  As much as we can’t stand those bastards — passion, innovation, creativity, and beliefs — we’re using them, and holding them tightly as the thread to our foundation.  As a disregard for futile quarrels over insufficient “space,” we’re innovatively creating an unlimited space, a space that cannot be minimized because it is infinite. Essentially, it is a space within the mind… a precious, warm, and exorbitant area of existence where only your own inhibitions or lack of motivation can hinder your progression.  It’s from deep within this space that we plan to bring you an even better HarlemLive, packed with better content, faster production, and a new sense of focus and direction that we’ve yet to show you.  So when you notice a difference…that’s why. It’s because of those damn bastards…those instigators…infiltrating our minds and hearts, with the audacity and boldness to inspire, motivate, and pull us to become an even better HarlemLive than we’ve ever been before.  So yeah we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves.  Damnit!!!  We have the NERVE to be free. Passion is a bold bastard.

Jail, A Harsh Reality for A Lot of Teens

It’s not often one gets to enter a high security prison only to get out hours later. That’s what HarlemLive did recently when we went to present our program to some all male high school classes at Rikers Island in New York City. 

HarlemLive has traveled around the globe showing other communities the power of the web in creating outlets for expression and the journalism process which expands the youth’s view of their world. For the last five years, HarlemLive has provided a teen centered program unprecedented in New York City. Our young people have traveled to Sweden, Rome, and Washington, DC to accept awards for their success at producing a domestic and international award winning state-of-the-art news and cultural web magazine

What made this visit a surprise to us is that we bumped into a couple people we knew. 

While we sat in the principal’s office, many of the guys were filing past on their way to lunch. Through the window to the hallway, one 18 year old teen did a double take as he recognized HarlemLive teen spokesperson, Melvin Johnson. Both grew up in the Morris Heights section of the Bronx. He was incarcerated for being present at the scene of a gang assault. 

The incarceration has changed his attitude about wanting to stay in gangs. What really hit him was his younger brother asking when he was, “going to grow up and start being a real older brother,” who could serve as a role model to his younger siblings. 

After chatting with the young inmate, we got a chance to speak to the principal, Frank Dody. Dody came to work many years ago as a one year stint but stayed on seeing how much in need the teens were of caring adults. There are 10 prisons on Rikers Island housing up to 17,000 inmates. Of the 10, there are 4 that house adolescents and teens. HarlemLive was visiting the Adolescent Reception and Detention Center (ARDC). It houses adolescents who have yet to be sentenced. “They could be here for a day or several months,” said Mr. Dody. 

At the ARDC, most of the teens that are not deemed to be dangerous to the others live in large dorm areas that sleep 50 inmates with individual cots separated by a small locker. There is at least one fight a day, usually about “who’s in charge”, among the youth.

In the classrooms, there are 15 male students to a class. We noticed that the teachers were all male but that many of the security guards in the halls were female. Our visit stirred some excitement as Melvin Johnson, Danya Steele, and Justin Young walked through the halls to the first of three classes. 

Pressed against one of the plexiglass windows that allowed the guards to peer into the classrooms was a young teen. It was a teen who was part of the Urban Youth Bike Corp, with whom HL has collaborated. While most alumni of the UYBC are now attending college, this young man chose a different path and was convicted for two armed robberies. 

The prison personnel allowed the teen to attend some of the classes with the HarlemLive editors as they made their presentations. He was even able to speak to the director of the UYBC by using HL’s cell phone. It seemed our visit and the fact he knew us helped increase his stature with his fellow classmates and teachers. 

We spoke to the teens about HarlemLive possibly working with the teachers and providing an outlet for them to publish their poetry, stories and artwork. Melvin spoke of how his life changed once he chose to work with HarlemLive, a choice that lead to an increase in his skills and self esteem and away from the scene on the streets. Some of the teens acted in the normal classroom atmosphere of “let’s perform for the visitors” while many of the other teens seemed to be extremely quiet and reserved. 

We’re hoping that our message made it to at least one teen and that they find a program or place where they can find their niche in life, where they’ll know they can be a valued and productive member in their community, and aybe even a “real older brother,” to their siblings and friends. 

Sites to view: 

NYC government’s Department of Correction web pages: http://www.ci.nyc.ny.us/html/doc/home.html 

Description of the 10 Rikers Island Jails http://www.correctionhistory.org/html/chronicl/nycdoc/html/jailist1.html

More Than a Paycheck

Date posted:7/28/06

by Seshat Mack

In the heart of Harlem, on the third floor of a building on 125th street, work is being done. I look to my left, and see a member of HarlemLIVE diligently working, balancing a laptop on his lap as he creates a PowerPoint presentation on the desktop in front of him. I look to my right, and see a HarlemLIVE reporter editing her interviews with the aid of a seasoned reporter and cameraman. The aura of exertion, of creativity, of learning in itself, is ever-present as journalists work to meet their deadlines, cameramen work to edit their video, and everyone thinks of new topics to interest their readers. At HarlemLIVE, we see adolescents think and act like adults. Instead of aimlessly roaming the streets, teenagers have a chance to develop, enhance, and hone their skills. Is it fair – is it moral? – To take this opportunity, this chance for growth, away from Harlem teenagers because of a minor insignificance in the aesthetics of our building?
HarlemLIVE employees work hard. Why should we be stopped from working, from bettering ourselves and our communities, because of a hole outside our working area? This hole does not jeopardize our safety; this hole does not disturb us; it never crossed our minds until we were told that we couldn’t work here because of it. By telling us that we can’t work at HarlemLIVE, you are, in essence, depriving us of, possibly, one of the greatest experiences of our lives. You are sending us back to the streets; showing us a glimpse of what could be, then slamming the door of opportunity in our faces.

The HarlemLIVE employees that you are attempting to release from the program are putting up a fight. Have you wondered why? Have you wondered why we don’t want to leave? Could it be possible that we want more than a paycheck this summer? We want to stay because we found something more than a job. We found an experience . . . a place where we can do what we like, where we learn and are encouraged to learn, where we learn to grow up and take responsibility. To take HarlemLIVE away from us is an action that should rest on your conscience, because you’re taking away from us the contentment and familial feel that are present . . . . the essence of HarlemLIVE.

Shelise Roberts next to the cracked plaster.

A Day in the Life of Being a Leader

by Eddie Aung

I have been in HarlemLive for nearly two years. But before this summer, I had no idea what the real responsibility meant. Being a group leader can be the hardest job on earth; especially when the success of your whole group depends on your performance. Let me give you a little a short tour of a group leader’s one day life in HarlemLive. Yeah…… It’s just a short tour….

I bet that everyone has thought of what they are doing or where they are going to. Well, that is one of the daily jobs of mine and I want to say that it also should be one of the practices that a group leader should possess. A group leader should most of the time be thinking about something that pertains to the success of his group. 

Ideas are not hard to come up with, the hard part is to turn those ideas into stories and ask your group to actually go out and make those ideas come true. The whole group will have a meeting and everyone will be throwing ideas at each other and it will seem like the meeting was a success. Everyone including the leader learned something new after the meeting and believe that the group members will try hard to turn the ideas into actual stories. Well, you see…., only fairy tales end with a happy ending. 

Most of the problems start from the fact that not all of the people are motivated. So even an experienced group leader “MUST” have Plan B because there is a possibility that something might go wrong such as one of the group members not making an important phone call, missing a scheduled story, or just sitting on a chair and staring at a computer screen Instant Messaging their friends. 

My strategy to overcome those difficulties is to actually do some of the scheduling on my own and be ready with a story on days when there are no stories. I always keep track of what my group members are doing. Stories are important in an organization such as HarlemLive, but not all the members in my groups are writers or reporters. What I do is keep them busy with the work they are interested in. If someone likes to edit video. If someone likes mopping, well, that’s what they will to do. 

Since there are a lot of things going on and there are not enough people to cover all the necessities, I have to assign each person to take care of two different types of jobs such as a writer might take a journalism class or photography workshops. This put a certain amount of pressure on some group members especially when they are new. About 90% of the staff in HarlemLive for this year’s Summer Program are new. There is the trouble there. Some people think that taking care of two things is hard and some think that having two stories on one day is a lot. Well, what can you say? You are the group leader; you have to listen to your group because those are the people that make you the group leader. 

There are times when I feel like a lot of the things that I planned are not going as well as they should be. Managing a group is like a rubber band. If you pull it too hard, it will snap. If you don’t pull hard enough, you will it will not stretch as far as you would like it. You really have to understand people. A good group is the group where all the team members work together and know what they are doing. This will not guarantee that the group will have the most rewards because any group can reach its goals just by depending on a couple of good and hardworking people in the group. 

That is not what I expect from my group. So I try to teach my group to work together. And trust me, that is really hard because you are trying to combine a bunch of minds asking them to reach a certain destination. Everyone wants to choose his own path. 

Most of my hardest moments as being a leader is when my group members do not do things right. It is hard to keep track of what everybody is doing every time. When I don’t know what someone is doing, it is hard for me to plan ahead. Trying to find out what is going on in the group and planning ahead is really challenging for me, especially when things do go as I had expected. Finding right people for the right work is a hard thing for me. However, I’m happy with my position because you have a chance to learn and interact with people. They report to you what is happening and they share their ideas with you which I believe is a great thing. Even though sometimes I feel like there is a big rock on my shoulder, that feeling disappears when I see my group members working.

My Querencia: Randall’s Island

by Samantha Gonzales

My Querencia is at Randall’s Island by the water under an apple tree, by myself. It’s a place where I can think and write my thoughts and poems. I sit near the water by the walls of grass that are all around. I sit under a green apple tree. I look at the waves go by. It makes me think and wonder about things and the future.

Randall’s Island, between N. Manhattan and Astoria, Queens

I remember when I was mad at my friend because we had an argument. I had no one to talk to, so I put my notebook in my bookbag, got on my bike and left my house. Off I went to Randall’s Island to my little spot by the water under the apple tree. I just thought about things to do to make up with my friend. I took out my journal and wrote things I could do to make up with my friend. I wrote down to call her on the phone and talk it out. I really didn’t know what to do. I lay down under the apple tree and fell asleep. When I woke up I decided to just talk to her about it. Then, I rode my bike home.

I wish I could go to my special place everyday but I can’t, so what I do instead is listen to music in my room and write poems. That is my querencia.

My Querencia: In My Room with My Music

by Angel Colon

A few years ago my bedroom was filled with stress and depression. A few years ago my room was almost filled with tears. A few years ago I was sitting down listening to music, hard-core rap music. I know it may sound corny, but that’s where my power is.

Hard core rap music may not be your querencia, but it sure is mine and I’m proud of it, too. Whenever I have problems or I feel down that’s where pride waits for me.

Those few years ago was when my mother was robbed and me, and my brother and my oldest little sister witnessed the horror. We were in the elevator returning home with our bikes after riding around the projects. It was about 8 at night. A man who seemed nice helped us put our bikes in the elevator. I wondered what he was doing because he pushed the buttons to both the third and fourth floor. Once the elevator stopped on the third floor, he asked for jewelry, while he held his hand behind his back. My mom gave him her wedding band and necklace name chain. Then he made sure the door was closed and the elevator went up. I didn’t cry but crying did cross my mind.

Once we saw my father, my mother told him what happen. I went to my room, closed the door and sat down and listened to music and thought about nothing in particular. Music, that is my querencia.

Death Was On Her Face

by Ismael Alverez

They say there are two things in life you cannot hide from, death and taxes. Well, I learned that death is a very real thing at a very early age. I grew up in Astoria, Queens, New York. I lived in the Queens Bridge and Ravenswood projects. To me it seemed like I was the only light skin Hispanic kid in an all black community. Like many kids I knew, I grew up without a father. Mommy was also dad. We were very poor. I lived with my mom and my two older sisters. When I was about six years old, my mother found out she had breast cancer. Through some time and with the proper treatment, the doctors removed the cancer and she was cured.

My mother, Noemi Colon was a fighter. She always did things just to make my sisters and I happy. She worked crazy hours to put food on the table and put my sisters and I through private school. When I was about ten years old, my mom called a big family meeting. All my uncles, aunts, and cousins were there. My mother announced that she got cancer again. I was young, so I really didn’t’t know what was going on at the time. I just knew that mommy had to go away to the hospital again.

My mother fought the disease, in and out of the hospital for many years. At thirteen, I knew what was happening to my mother. By this time, she was very sick. She had been in the hospital for a year straight. Death was on her face, but in my mind mommy would never die. She would always be there for me. I din’t’t go to the hospital to see her for some time. I could not bear to see my mom with tubes up her nose, not being able to talk. My older sister would go everyday. They would tell me that mom was asking for me and I would always say, “ I’ll go tomorrow.”

This one day I remember like it was yesterday. I was going to pick up my friend from school and on my way there I saw my sister Marina heading towards the train station. She told me “Izzy, I’m going to see mommy. She has been asking about you. You should come with me now to see her, plus it’s your turn to watch her.” Something inside me told me I should go, but instead, I told my sister I already had plans and that I promise I’d go the next day. That day I went out with my friends and got home late. As soon as I got home I went straight o bed. Around three or four in the morning my other sister Christina woke me up. 

When I woke up I saw Christina and a friend of the family in the living room where I always slept. Christina had tears in her eyes. He then said, “We have to go to the hospital. Mommy is dead.” I was half asleep, so I was like OK let’s go. I didn’t’t realize what was going on at that moment.

When I got to the hospital, we went straight to room 401. I walked in and I saw my family there around the bed. When they saw me, they all cleared away from the bed so I can see her. When I saw my mom motionless, that’s when it hit me. “Oh my God. My mom was dead.” 

They said I passed out, but I don’t remember that. I just remember going to the bed, kissing her, trying to wake her up, holding her, and touching her. Her body was warm, I remember, I cried and didn’t’t want to leave her.

The funeral was the next day. We had an open casket for two days. I didn’t’t cry at all at that time. The third day after her death, we buried her. I remember standing there at the ceremony not hearing a word the pastor was saying, just focusing on the casket and thinking of how things were going to be different. When they started to lower her body into the hole, that’s when I broke down. It was like my heart was being lowered with her. It was the worse feeling I ever had. My knees were weak,, I was tired and had my adrenaline rushing at the same time. Tears left my eyes like never before. I got a headache from so much crying. I should have gone that night to see mommy. I could have said good-bye, but I was selfish and didn’t.

After that day I grew emotionless to death. Nothing else mattered to me anymore. I saw people I loved die, but it did not affect me. My attitude now is that people come and people go. You just have to do what you have to do in order to make your time on Earth pleasant. 

Coming To America

by Fairusa Ibrahim

When I was younger, I couldn’t wait to come to America. 

My parents and two siblings were already there. At first, I thought I would come sooner. My father was there before I was even born. I was thinking it’s going to be years before I get to America – the land of prosperity and possibilities. A land where every soul is dying to go. Yes, that land is America. 

My mother came to the U.S when I was six years old and returned to Ghana after two years then came back to the U.S. My father returned to Ghana from the U.S. when I was ten years old and took my oldest sister and brother. My other sister and I were left with curiosity. We were told that we would join the rest of the family very shortly. Very shortly to me was a month or so. I waited and waited but nobody came to get me. 

“Where is this land?” I asked myself. Why is it that everybody who came from that land looks fresh and nice? “Why do they smell like rich folks?” I asked. I would also go there one day and come back just like them. I began to develop so many questions in my head. What has happened to them? Are they still alive? Have they forgotten about us? I know my mother would not forget about me. But why hasn’t she come to get me?

I recall the day my mother went to the United States. I was six years old and didn’t know what was going on. I went to the airport and watched her board the airplane. I began to cry. I cried all week knowing I would not see my mother for a long while. At this thought I said to myself, “What is this thing named airplane? Why does it take my family away and not bring them back?” If I could only find a way to drive that airplane away, I would.I always thought America was up in the sky because the airplane goes up and doesn’t come back. I sat for years waiting for my family to come and take me wherever they were. 

Sometimes, when I was younger, I would look up at the sky and talk to it, thinking my parents were up there watching and listening to me. I used to get confused about one thing: If God is up there (as I was told) and my family is up there, then this means that my family is with God and I know that the only people with God are dead people. “My parents are not dead,” I said, “Then why are they with God?” These questions kept bothering me but I spoke nothing about them. 

After 3 years, I lost hope in coming to America. My hopes died and all I wanted was for my family to came and visit me. I missed my family and I wanted to see them so badly. When I was 14 years old, I was told that my mother was coming to visit us. I was so excited that I couldn’t eat for the whole day. I couldn’t wait for that day to come. I felt like turning the clock forward but I had to be patient and eventually the day came. 

My mother was exiting from the airplane but I didn’t know who she was. Can you believe it? I didn’t recognize my own mother!! She had completely changed from the last time I saw her. I kept asking, “Where is my mother? Where is she?”. Nobody paid any attention to me. They all ran to hug a woman who just came out of the arrivals.

I realized that woman was my mother. I also ran and hugged her. All I heard her saying was “Where is Fairusa? Where is my Fairusa?” I was in front of her but my mother didn’t recognize me either. Of course she would not recognize me. She left me when I was six and came back to see me when I was only 8 years old. I am now 14 years old. “I am Fairusa,” I said. She looked at me rigorously and said, “Oh my God, it is really you. You’ve grown up to be a beautiful young lady.” We spent quality times together and before she left , she said to my sister and I that we would be joining them soon. 

“How soon?” I asked because it was obvious that our parents’ meaning of soon was different from my meaning of soon. “In about a year,” she said. At that point I said to myself that I would never get to America. One year to me felt like ten years.