A Kid’s-Eye View of Harlem

Published in the NYTimes, 1998

Angel Colon, 15, is the old man of HarlemLIVE, an online magazine put together by a volunteer staff of 40 or more Harlem teen-agers who write about life in their neighborhood. He began working on the magazine, when it was mere ink and paper, when he was 11.”I don’t like to write,” Angel said. “But if I have something to say, I’ll force myself to do it.”

Angel Colon, talking to NYTIMES reporter.

Now a 10th grader at the Manhattan Center of Mathematics/Science in East Harlem, he started learning computer skills in the sixth grade because he liked computer graphics. Kerly Suffern, 16, an 11th grader at Martin Luther King Jr. High School on the Upper West Side, also writes for the magazine. “I love to write,” he said. “It’s nice for the public to find out what we’re about, that kids in Harlem we’re not as bad as people think.” Richard Calton, 38, a former public-school teacher, founded the magazine three years ago at P.S. 206 in East Harlem. In 1995 he left his job to learn more about computer-based education at Columbia University’s Institute for Learning Technologies. The institute has donated 11 computers and office space for the students to continue HarlemLIVE on the Web.

WHAT YOU SEE In a section called “Off the Head” — Harlem kid slang for off-the-cuff or from-the-heart pronouncements — Fairusa Ibrahim, 14, writes about coming to America from Ghana, where her parents left her and another sister when Fairusa was 6. “We were told that we would join the rest of the family very shortly,” she wrote. “Very shortly to me was a month or so. I waited and waited but nobody came to get me.”Eight years later, when her mother reunited all of the family in New York, it was even more wrenching. “What is this thing named airplane? Why does it take my family away and not bring them back?” she remembered thinking. Her mother got off the plane, but she did not recognize Fairusa, and Fairusa did not recognize her. “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?

‘”In another section, Kerly reviews a novel called “Friends and Lovers” by Jerome Dickie about romantic issues between black men and women. “The settings are set somewhere out in L.A., where two fine sistas and two fine brothas hook up and started their special love affair,” he writes. “The context and literature is very realistic and easy to relate to, the descriptions of the scenes are raw, just like the way we talk.”

Staff members also contribute descriptions of themselves. Angel, whose mother volunteers with HarlemLIVE, writes: “Evelyn Colon is my mother. She is also with HarlemLIVE. My mother is who I want to be like even though there is nothing wrong with my father. My mother is a teacher.”

LINKS Seventeen, including Harlem Overheard, another Harlem youth publication.

WHAT YOU GET Students telling about their families, friends and neighborhood, in their own voices. “I want to have a lot of little Harlem Lives so other kids can write about their neighborhoods,” Kerly said. 

Boxing Popularity A Question Mark

by Kuamel Stewart

It would be pretty hard to believe that one could infer that Boxing’s popularity and relative success is amongst the bottom compared to major sports. Now that it seems that it’s not even improbable because some experts have concluded that Boxing does not have the exposure, growth and economic success as other major sports.

Justin Blare, who is the owner of Church sty. Boxing, is an esteemed boxing figure in his community. He commented on the controversial topic. “Boxing is suffering terribly. It’s not as popular as the other sports we have and it lacks organization. It has been in the same state for decades and needs help. Somehow we have to find a way to attain more media attention. We need more organization. If things keep going the way they have, then I see Boxing in the same state as it is now if not worse. 

Most provide an explanation for this is due to the products of Boxing. Unlike other major sports, Boxing does not have apparel such as sportswear and accessories that are attractive and easily accessible. The little that they have is not really favored by consumers. Other sports are able to advertise heavily because they have full three or more full schedules in which there games are viewed on TV and listened to on radio. Compared to other sports, the boxing fights that are considered “must see” or spectacles come around maybe 4 or five times a year. Boxing receives its buzz on these rare occasions compared who get the same viewer response on a nightly basis. One can already infer what that does for marketing. 

Also, the other major sports are team sports, which induce the sports to organized play and more of a spectacle. Boxing however is an individual sport in which the fighter hires promoters to sell the fight, conventionally making there own commission. 

Boxing isn’t designed to produce financially for the sport because all the money that is gained is distributed to its participants and workers. Boxing isn’t a sport that sells itself. It sell’ its prized fights with paperview, advertising and promotional viewing. The fights that an average fan would calla regular season basketball fan would call a regular season basketball game are exhibitions. Unfortunately about 70% of boxing is “under cards”. Most big money fights take place after the up and coming or champion has solidified them self as a seller for a huge fight. Most of those fights happen maybe 4 or 5 times a year with significant time in between expended which leaves boxing to be forgotten. 

Rick Stevenson who commentates exhibitions at Church street boxing was very open on the topic. “Look. We have to accept it for what it is. Boxing is a great sport. It is unique in its own way. Because of how it is conducted, it can significantly be separated from other sports. But Boxing does not get the publicity that other sports do and its true. And in the same token, Boxing has not done anything to make people want to see it more. It’s a horrible thing because it’s a great sport, but its true. 
John “Punisher” Wright, who is a local participant at Church st., boxing believes that boxing is in a good condition. “Yeah it’s not like the other sports where you see a lot of commercials and what not. But its not like no body watches it. I’m pretty sure when big fights come on, millions of people watch it. It cold do better but I think its doing fine”

Richard Munson who goes by the name Richie has been a trainer at Church st. Boxing for almost ten years. He has never trained someone whom the public has significantly recognized. But he is very knowledgeable about the sport. “Yeah I think boxing is on the decline.

But I don’t think its because of the publicity of the sport. I think its because of the diminished talent we have. Over the years we have lost great prospects. We don’t even have someone who represents the heavyweight division contently. And that’s the most esteemed division in boxing. That just goes to show where boxing is. We need more great fighters and less people are becoming interested in the sport because of quality. Once we get more fighters, we’ll be back on our feet.

In a summation, boxing is really yearning to be desired. But on a positive note, it is content with its current standing because of the conditions in which it is viewed. Its not like the sport is going into recession. It’s not resorting to new market strategies to attract viewers like hockey and the MLS. It’s a formidable sport; it’s just not exposed as much as the other sports.

Kuamel Stewart

Reporter

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Greetings. Nah thats corny. Whats sup viewer. My name is Kaumel but my tag is Melo. I go to Martin Luther King high school on the west side. You could probably say I’m a pretty cool person. I would say I’m grounded or pretty much would like to be. I’ into poetry and other forms of creative writing. My most prominent aspiration is to be become a writer, but that will probably be overshadowed by my childhood dream of studying law and political science. I also have an interest in graphic design and architecture. But enough about the dreams.
If you wanna know me for real here it is. I believe I’m quiet but I’ve suffered some great opposition to that but thats alright. People say I’m a good listener. I’m not saying I’ll hear your problems and give you advice I just listen well. I’m really dedicated academically and thats probably my prime focus for right now. But the quickest way to get to know me is through poetry honestly. Poetry gets me goin so to speak so if you want a long conversation with me just criticize my work. haha.
In other news: I joined HarlemLIVE because I could pursue my dream of writing through journalism here. I know its a lot of work but I am willing to complete the tasks handed to me because I know in the future I’ll be doing the same thing. Plus I like to perform my work and HarlemLIVE gives a chance to do that on a regular basis. Also the people here show some of the same characteristics so we all have something in common. Besides here I’m in a couple of other programs like my after school program. I also attend a program at Columbia University called Upward Bound at The Double Discovery Center. There cool programs but not better than HarlemLIVE, I think.
If you would like to know more or have any additional questions you could email me at mmelowrites@yahoo.com or IM at melo418 (aim).
Holla!