Revolution of Niceness: Differentiating Between Good and Nice

Revolution of Niceness: Differentiating Between Good and Nice August 14, 2014

I’m not sure anyone else within white Americanized Christianity, is saying it so I will: The predominantly white Christian institution is terrifyingly bigoted. Within the Church racial caste has not come to an end; it has only been redesigned. Unfortunately, many will selfishly be taken back by this statement, offended by my blunt acknowledgement of racism within white privileged churches. Inevitably, I will be accused of furthering division, being a reverse racist, and many other things in which I can’t yet fathom until they’re spoken.

“I’ve covered a number of these incidents here over the years, from VBS curriculum, to youth skits, to general Christian trade books, in which Asians have been mocked, caricatured and stereotyped in the name of… I don’t know what. Jesus? I didn’t see a whole lot of Jesus in any of those things.” 

Within Americanized Christianity, but not limited to, there seems to be this overarching assumption that in order to be “good” you must also be nice. Implying that if someone is not nice then they are automatically viewed as someone who is also not good. 

This conflation of good and nice is one of the reasons for on going division and a lack of racial reconciliation within the Church. For instance, the unspoken demand that the oppressed still must be “slow to anger,” despite the amount of suffering they’ve faced, and by slow to anger, in Americanized evangelical terminology this means one must never get angry.

“For example, the “tone” argument, the favorite derailing tactic of bigots everywhere, is quite clearly a demand that the oppressor be treated “nicely” at all times by the oppressed – and they get to define what “nice” treatment is. This works because the primacy of nice in our culture creates a useful tool – to control people and to delegitimize their anger.” – via The Social Justice League Blog

To not acknowledge that in our society men are more privileged than women, whites are more privileged than POC, and/or heterosexuals are more privileged than non-heterosexuals is to turn one’s back on injustice.

Side note: The most important thing in which a person of color [POC] reading this can take away is that there’s no such thing as reverse racism.

This not only silences and delegitimizes the reality of the oppressed while obfuscating away from justice being had, but it is simultaneously perpetuating division[1]. Sadly, in consequence, we’ve found ourselves fighting for a revolution of niceness as opposed to a revolution of justice.

Growing up in the white westernized church I’ve seen a fundamental misunderstanding of what exactly oppression and privilege are. We need to debunk this on going belief that hurting someone’s ego is of equal moral harm to that of systematic oppression. To be clear, oppression is not getting one’s feelings hurt. Oppression is living in a constructed system that leaves you at a cultural, social, and therefore economic disadvantage.

This is why calling a racist person a “bigoted asshole” is not equally immoral to calling a POC a racial slur.  In other words, when someone is being mean to you this does not mean someone is oppressing you[2].

Christians, we’re not called to be “nice” people, we’re called to be just and loving people. The disconnect within white Christian America, but not limited to this, seems unwilling to acknowledge that our systems are set up to privilege white males at every conceivably juncture possible – socially, politically, and economically.

The least of our concerns should be hurting the feelings of the privileged American pastor.

Lets keep in mind, one of the last thing Jesus did was storm the temple, violently rebelling against the religious leaders of his time all the while over turning tables. Jesus in this instance, was not being nice. He was making a statement, that arguably cost Him His life. What Jesus did was good, right, and just, but it was far from Him being nice.

The thing is, Christians [privileged or not] are not called to be nice so much as were called to be HOLY. What if the white Church, instead of being burdened by guilt and shame, chose to be filled with compassion and mercy, leading them to lives of justice? To ignore injustice is to live a life that is meaningless. What good is a life lived that is vacant of loving the other? We must, like Christ, be quick to excoriate an oppressive and exploitative socially constructed system that favors, ‘mind you, the global minority. This reformation, revolution, and age of information must never be silent, nor should it’s main concern be “niceness.”

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[1] This is why if you are a Christian and happen to be white you should probably never accuse a POC of dividing the Church.

[2] Instances such as these are referred to as victim blaming.

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