- Update: Angela’s Response
– An Open Letter To People in and around Harrisburg
By: Max Neely
Those who are weighing in on Angela Kirkland’s words, sending her threats, swearing at her, questioning her nerve, making condescending appeals to respectability politics instead of listening to her, and trying to understand her experiences:
You know nothing about Angela Kirkland.
She is an amazing woman and is incredibly smart and dedicated to improving the lives of this community.
A 20 year old black man with bipolar disorder was murdered by police in August with no justice served. For months we fought within the system, filled out the forms, attended the meetings, voiced our concerns and did the city it’s due diligence.
The city chose to ask for time, to allow the system to do its job. Justice was not served. Chief Carter and Eric Papenfuse are not committed to racial justice within this city. They are not committed to economic justice. They are not committed to transparency and to accountability.
You know nothing of Ms. Kirkland. If you did, you would know how hard she has worked for this city under threats of physical harm and tremendous stress and scorn from the people on the West Shore, who do not live here but love to have a nose in the affairs of this city.
Angela is a soldier. She is a brilliant woman. She is a compassionate friend. She is a deeply hurt, deeply, committed, deeply passionate and deeply intelligent black woman trying to bring justice to a community that has long been abandoned by this white mans world.
We have a hateful, xenophobic bigot occupying the office of the presidency and the majority of this city; not the West Shore, not one specific neighborhood downtown, not people who have never visited Harrisburg save for the bars and clubs and restaurants on 2nd St on the weekends– no, the people who live here, they stand with her, myself included.
I love and appreciate Angela and I love and appreciate this community for having her back through it all.
We don’t always agree on everything. Sometimes Angela says things that I would rather not hear. Things that make me uncomfortable. But as an intellectually honest and compassionate human being, I consider her words, experiences, opinions and her justifiable outrage.
She will always be more important to me than some stranger on the internet, someone I have never met, someone who has never given a damn about anything Angela has fought for until she had the nerve to be bold and say things that needed to be said.
She is my friend. I choose her over racism every day. Forever. I choose her feelings and thoughts and experiences over my own comfort as a white man.
I challenge you to give her a chance, trust her words, trust her experience– and do the same. Let’s fight for racial justice together, but on the terms of those who are most impacted by racism and police violence.
None of us need to be enemies, but when the teacher is talking, we need to listen. Angela is someone I trust to teach about racism.
Give her a chance. Let the teacher talk without throwing spitballs and pulling the fire alarm before the lesson plan has even started. Please.