Why I’m Not Concerned With Being Nice To White People
I used to be concerned about being nice to White people, because they insisted I be nice to them. I had to speak kindly to them so they can merely hear me speak on matters of race and racial discrimination. It never got me anywhere. It changed nothing. It only pacified the White person I was engaging and frustrated me more.
I have been told by many White people commenting on my posts online that I should be nice and maybe, just maybe, White people would listen to what I had to say about my racialized experiences in America.
White people have made it a point to make victims of racism center White feelings while they ignore our words and our pain. That’s emotional abuse, and I don’t like being abused.
Victims of racism can’t tell our abusers they are abusing us, because we can’t hurt their feelings. We aren’t allowed to speak, because they insist we remain silent. White people aren’t interested in hearing about all the different ways they harm us daily. We speak our truths, and they not only question them — and they require proof besides the being nice provisions. When they aren’t trying to silence us, they are reinterpreting and excusing the actions of a racist.
When White people ask us to be nice to them, they are showing us they care more about their feelings than they care about our safety, our freedom, stopping racism, hearing from victims of racism, or ending racism.
It’s just like saying to people of color if only we just complied, maybe we’d still be alive. White people are telling us we need to submit to White authority so they won’t harm us. They keep violent and we keep being harmed. What’s the point?
If only we would be nicer, maybe White people would listen to us. White people are telling us we must be kind to them in order for them to listen to us. They know they are being abusive, they just don’t care. They have no intention of ever listening to us unless we do it the way they want us to do it.
If we’d just shut our mouths and stay in our places, we’d make White people more comfortable and keep them safe from perceived persecution. White people are telling us to be nice and quiet about our abuses because they don’t want to deal with it. They are ashamed, yet they don’t have any intention to do anything about it. It’s a classic tactic abusers used to silence and shame victims. The relationship dynamics and the results are the same.
Shut up and be quiet.
Asking Black people to speak nicely is a constant request of White people. If only we’d speak in a nicer tone, they’d help us.
It’s the reason White people love to quote Dr. Martin Luther King while despising Brother Malcolm X. White folks labeled the Black non-violent leader a wonderful man because he was nice. White people still killed the friendly man. Malcolm X was a different type of civil rights leader who advocated Black people physically protecting themselves against physical racist attacks with physical protection, including firearms. White people disliked Malcolm X because he called White people out, straight with no chasers. They also didn’t like Malcolm X because he didn’t tolerate White violence. White people know the type of people they like to work with. They are the kind who will be nice and wait for White people to do the right thing.
Niceness doesn’t stop nor move White people. They’ll still kill us (or at least try), still silence us, still black ball us, still police us, still discriminate against us, still Whitesplain to us, still punish us, still ignore us, and still insist all awhile we continue to be nice, comply, and allow them to tell us what is and what isn’t racism. None of these things sounds nice to me.
Being called out for racism makes White people feel humiliated, embarrassed, exposed and degraded individually and collectively. Those are normal feelings and reactions any person would feel when they’ve been caught in the act. But most White people apparently are incapable of dealing with being called out. To minimize having to deal with their feelings, they try to control our conversations by redirecting us to be nice. When we refuse, they act out.
White people acting out when we talk about race is a way for them to protect themselves from being judged. Us being nice is all about their feelings. Being nice is about preserving Whiteness. Asking us to be nice is about control. Demanding we be nice to people who hate us and who are literally trying to wipe us off the face of the earth just shows how much White people have dehumanized Black people. We’re supposed to be nice to the world, even as they disrespect us.
White people have more compassion and empathy for dogs and animals than they have for Black people and people of color. An injured dog moves White people to be nice. It’s never required to be nice to White people before they extend their power, time, and/or money to aid them. They just do it because it’s the right thing to do. How nice.
White people can feel the pain of a dog, but not for us. This never escapes me.
Asking us to be nice is about maintaining the status quo. It’s smothering, like the Antebellum Period when slaves weren’t allowed to express our feelings.
Prior to the civil war, U.S. slaves rebelled — because who in the hell wants to be held against their will. Slaves in the U.S. resisted bondage through many passive forms such as damaging equipment, working slowly, or secretly keeping their culture, language, and religious beliefs alive.
Oppression isn’t nice. Nice is a code word. I’m Southern and I understand the codes White people used to keep us in our places.
I’m also a descendant of slaves. My refusal to be nice is an act of rebellion against White Supremacy. It’s one of the few ways I can disrupt their system. Refusing to be nice to White people strips away their power. Asking us to be nice is a way to control us. I am taking control.
Once nice is no longer an option, White people are disarmed and left vulnerable. They hate that.
They have a nerve.
Why must we coddle White people and tend to White feelings before we address our Black and Brown feelings and wounds? We don’t have to and shouldn’t have to. We don’t owe White people anything at all. Instead of them asking us to be nice so that they can remain in their dysfunctional states, they should seek professional help and guidance.
We are not the help.
Nice. White people for the most part are raised to say and do whatever they please, regardless of who it hurts or how it harms. Nice is a tool used by White people to subjugate non-White people.
Just be nice.
I’m no longer concerned with being nice. I just say what I have to say to and about White people now. I let the chips fall where they may. I don’t have time to talk to be all genteel with fully grown, often manipulative people. As I work to de-colonize my mindset, I decided that taking nice out of discussions on race when they come at the request of White people was a must for me. I cannot concentrate on their feelings and addressing racism. It’s like oil and water.
Nice is no longer included in race discussions for this very reason. White people need to develop their emotional intelligence in order to accept criticism and discuss harm reduction without centering themselves, because the world doesn’t just revolve around for White people. People who can’t seem to control themselves love controlling others.
Being able to have grown folk conversations with other people who can recognize their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions is essential to having discussions of race with Blacks and people of color.
We’re not obligated to be nice to White people.
Anyone with a healthy brain should understand there can’t be any nice discussions on race because there truly isn’t anything nice about being assigned a race. White/European/Anglo people created race to dehumanize other people and humanizing them. There is nothing nice about it. They created races to erase our ethnic origins, choosing instead to group us all in social groups by skin color — making lighter skins superior and darker skins inferior. White people created races to assign permanent classes to people, a value or worth based upon our skin colors. There is nothing nice about this, so why insist we be nice to discuss it?
Nice and race don’t go together.
White people institutionalized racism with slavery and there lies the problem. The thing White people don’t want to deal with is slavery, because slavery for White people is tied to their feelings. They know it’s wrong, and they know they wouldn’t want to be subjected to such treatment. Because most White people think with zero-sum mindsets and live zero-sum lifestyles, they feel one day the oppressed will be the oppressors — and that’s not a nice feeling for them. I’m sure White people think what they’ve done to others will in return be done to them. And that doesn’t feel nice. They believe taking from them is not fair to give to others they’ve treated unfairly for so long. That’s not nice either.
If you were ruled over, cheated, beaten, killed, raped, separated from your families, forced to work for free, red-lined, segregated, treated as animals and property, discriminated against, lynched, paid less, educated separately despite paying taxes, kept from voting, and used as guinea pigs White people, would you be nice to you? Would you be angry if you asked you to be nice to you? Hell yes you would!
White people are angry because they have to stay inside to protect themselves and others, so I know they’d be angry if someone asked them to be nice for something severe as racism.
Visiting the concept of race and revisiting our national history of slavery requires White people to center the actions of their ancestors and their own. Doing so requires them to address their own inhumanity, and that’s not nice. Instead, White people lash out at victims or nicely demand we treat them better than they’ve treated us — and that’s not fair or nice. Asking us to be nice serves as masks and shields for White folks not mature enough to understand and respect the experiences of racial minorities. White people aren’t required to control their feelings and self-regulate like Black people and POC, that’s why nice remains a main staple in their vocabularies.
Being nice to White people to get them to hear us out is all about White privilege and White power that the collective has maintained since slavery ended. Instead of seeing the error of their ways and flaws in their line of thinking, they keep asking us to be nice so that they can remain comfortable — so they can dodge responsibility for 100 more years.
Blacks and POC must decolonize their minds to understand why being nice is a requirement of White folks. Being nice keeps us self-regulated and allows White people to remain safe and free from accountability. That’s why I don’t entertain being nice anymore with White people.
Nice for what?
Where does nice get us? It gets us nowhere. How does being nice help me personally? It doesn’t, it just makes my blood pressure higher from decades of regulating my emotions so that White people don’t have to feel anything. Nice is a centerpiece of White Supremacy and it needs to end.
Oppression is violent act. Withholding affection is abusive. Forcing people to be silent and keeping them from expressing their emotions while they are being abused is controlling and manipulative. Asking victims of racial violence and discrimination to carry White emotional burdens because they don’t have the emotional intelligence to do so is wrong. There is nothing nice about any of this. Refusing to listen to us because you don’t want to deal with our tones that stem from 400 years of systemic racism isn’t nice. It’s disrespectful.
Slavery wasn’t nice, so why are we implored to be nice to White people who don’t even have the decency or empathy to apologize for what they’ve done to our ancestors and what they continue to do to us through structural and institutional racism? White people have taken our kindness for a weakness for far too long. We don’t owe you anything else, we’re free. We don’t have to be nice to you. Slavery is over, and nice is not on the menu.
Cruelty was a frequent theme during slavery. Forcing us to be nice is the new cruelty that came with our emancipation.
Black is a problem to White people, no matter what it’s doing. The color Black or dark and White feelings have a terrible relationship. For White people, the color Black is subliminally associated with White feelings.
It’s the reason most things written by White people refer to colors to describe their feelings. In their stories, Black is bad, White is good. Feeling bright is associated with pleasurable feelings, while feeling blue, grey, or dark are bad associated with unpleasant feelings. There is an entire layered system of codes White people have used for centuries to ensure Black stays bad and lighter/white colors remain good. Where is the nice in this?
I’m wishing nice a farewell. Being nice to nice White Supremacists (aka “good” White people) won’t end White Supremacy.
I’m not here to be nice, because nice can be subjective based upon your upbringing. I will always be respectful (unless you aren’t). If we can interact respectfully, that’s great. Learning only takes place when two people come with open minds, can communicate respectfully, and can understand the feelings of others while tending to their own. If you enter the chat with conditions before we even start talking (i.e. be nice) all bets will be off.
Racism and nice shouldn’t be confused. Those two things don’t go together. If White people need someone to be nice to them, they should call their mothers. She’s the only person somewhat obligated to be nice to them, even when you’re wrong.
Victims of crimes and atrocities have a right to feel angry, they are a right to protect themselves; they have a right to express themselves, and they have no obligation to be nice to anyone. White people forcing Black people and people of color to be nice to them is taking away their right to protect themselves and it places the burden on us to tend to the feelings of Whiteness. It’s control and a way to police us. It’s intellectually dishonest and mentally exhausting. It’s selfish and rude, and I’m done with it.
Racism isn’t nice, talking about it will not be nice, and fixing racism won’t be nice, but it must be done.
We cannot coddle Whiteness to end White Supremacy. We cannot allow Whiteness’ feelings to be centered as we try to navigate racism, and we sure as well can’t allow White people to tell us how to talk about racism. White people have weaponize the word nice by using it is a tool used to control our emotions and protect theirs. If they have issues with their feelings surrounding race, they should get professional help, we’re not it.
I’m taking control of my own experiences and taking nice off the negotiating table.
Marley K in Quarantine 2020
Check out my other stories to understand why nice is in White folks’ vocabulary.