Tim Wise To White People: Stop Being Nice And Start Getting Pissed Off

Tim Wise is a well-known anti-racist activist with a number of best selling books tackling an issue that white America would REALLY prefer not to discuss. He drives people on the right insane because his arguments are detailed, well researched, backed up by irrefutable facts and, worst of all, he’s very very white. That last bit is only important because it makes it impossible to dismiss Wise as a racist that secretly hates white people (the usual overused accusation from conservatives).

Tim Wise also annoys white liberals because he constantly holds a mirror to their privilege and demands that they look at it. You’d be astonished at how many otherwise liberal white people get deeply offended at the mere suggestion that being white in America gives them an large and easily measured advantage over black people. God help you if you actually prove it to them! No one likes having their support for institutionalized racism, even if it’s passive and unintentional support, pointed out to them.

They won’t be enjoying Wise’s most recent column about the grand jury decision in Ferguson for much the same reason.

There are two kinds of liberals: The ones like me that are…angry confrontational absolute bastards “prickly,” and the ones that think we should be “nice.” The former doesn’t think twice about throwing down with a conservative and telling them, in no uncertain terms, that their political movement is overflowing with racists, bigots, and inbred imbeciles. The latter doesn’t want to rock the boat or come off as “angry,” even in the face of the systemic racism that denies the black community any peace or justice.

Wise has a few…”prickly” words for these “nice” people:

Nice people change nothing. They never have and they never will. Those who are nice are so invested in their niceness, in their sense of propriety and civility that they rarely raise their voices above a whisper, even in the face of sweltering oppression. Nice white people were the ones who didn’t own black folks during the period of enslavement but also didn’t raise their voices against the ones who did. Nice white people are the ones who didn’t spit on sit-in demonstrators but also had no problem spending money with businesses that had remained segregated all those years.

Nice people are the ones that say “Don’t make such a fuss! You’ll attract more flies with honey instead of vinegar! Don’t lower yourself to their level!”

I would like to remind those “nice” people that while they were being “nice,” Republicans sent a mob of not nice people to Florida to disrupt the recount and stole the 2000 election. How did being “nice” work out for the next 8 years?

Even worse, 6 years after America elected its first black president, the barely concealed racial animosity of the right wing has come oozing to the surface. The concerted effort by the right wing to demonize every black person killed by the police is nauseating. Before, this kind of systemic racism was hidden from white America. Now, with the spread of video cameras everywhere and the speed of social media, police brutality is forcing its way into the (white) public’s consciousness. And that consciousness is fighting awwwwwfully hard to ignore it

The police have a willing accomplice in covering up their ongoing efforts to terrorize the black community in the form of the conservative media. Blacks bring it on themselves, didn’t you know? If they’d only stop acting like niggers “thugs”, then the police wouldn’t be forced to harass/beat/murder them so much!

That’s to be expected. After all, the modern conservative movement is explicitly centered on racial resentment. But then there’s all the “nice” white people that look at the riots and looting and cluck their tongues. “Why can’t they just be nice like us? Things will change if they’re nice!”

In response to this, I agree 100% with Wise when he says:

In short, and though I know it won’t strike some folks as particularly, well, nice, it really must be said: fuck nice. And the fact that there are many who would be more disturbed by my language here than by the death of black men at the hands of police, tells us all we need to know about the poison that is niceness, and about the dangerous souls who cling to that self-concept like a badge of honor. They have made clear by virtue of their silence what side they’re on; and that will not, cannot, be forgotten.

If you’re more outraged by the tone of this article and the tone of Tim Wise than by the racial injustice practised daily in the streets of America, it doesn’t matter how “nice” you think you are: you’re a terrible person and you’re part of the problem. Fuck nice and fuck you.