In the last two weeks my newsfeed has been flooded by white excitement. Between Botham Jeans brother forgiving Amber, the white cop who shot this black man for no reason, in his own home, to a video of Ellen talking about why she was kind to George W. Bush, I have no shortage of examples of “look at how kind and nice this person is”.

Their examples of kindness and forgiveness have gone viral but something is incredibly off though. Virtues are being used as wallpapering over injustice and it’s making my stomach queezy.

Learning about spiritual abuse taught me a lot about the misusage of words and concepts, and how good things can get distorted and weaponized.

I learned that if a church or ministry had the word “GRACE” in the title, it was usually on the more legalistic least grace-filled end of the spectrum. Pretty deceptive, but using that word had a deflective purpose.

Likewise in my evangelical upbringing “complementarian doctrine” was a code for patriarchal teachings. But the word they chose for that doctrine was misleading as it was the least complementary because it is not about fitting together as men and women in a way that complements each other with your unique personalities but about fitting into rigid pre-defined gender roles.

When it comes to words like “kindness”, “forgiveness” and being “nice”, it’s been a similar situation with the white elation. These have become code words used in very specific ways to avoid making white people feel uncomfortable for discriminatory and vile behavior. These words are desecrated and used to escape accountability and used in a way that completely misrepresents their meanings.

The conversation sounds something like: “nobody knows how to talk kindly to each other anymore. We have lost our ability for civil conversation.” And by civil they don’t mean taking kids at the border out of cages! They mean getting too loud or vocal or upset about it.

Mostly the civility or kindness they are referring to is used to tell black people to not get angry and to let go of injustices against them.

Like the fact that the likelihood of black men ending up in prison in the USA is 1 in 3. ONE in THREE. Let that sink in (with privately owned prison systems for profit)!

We don’t want their kneeling protests cause it’s “disrespectful”. We want their shows of forgiveness for white people (Amber) in a court room who have shot their family (Botham Jean) dead.

White oppressors being shown “kindness” and black people forgiving the ones murdering their family, these are the stories white people like to highlight and make go viral. There is a message there in between the lines, and it is not so subtle, although it requires we use discernment and ask the hard questions.

Is it really “kindness” and “niceness” to have Ellen smiling at an oppressor and pretending they are not a war criminal who has under false pretense slaughtered hundreds of thousands of people? To whom is this kind? It certainly isn’t kind to every dead baby, mom, dad and child who is Iraqi and not white who is being ignored.

This is not nice or kind to ignore these realities and stick to shallow pleasantries. If we so easily overlook this, there is nothing civil or kind about our deliberate glossing over of those lives lost for no good reason!

And while the legislation George W Bush passed to restrict gay marriage and the rights this strips away from LGBTQ people, may not affect a wealthy person like Ellen, dehumanizing others the way George Bush did, has a lot of consequence on people who are not as wealthy as Ellen and can’t so easily insulate themselves from situations where they could be fired just for being gay. (This is what privilege looks like.)

Our silence (or warm smiles) around those who dehumanize others is never to be conflated as kindness. It’s cowardice.

Being kind requires speaking the truth in love.

Civil rights were not granted out of white people appreciating the kindness of quiet black people.

Slavery did not end because of black people were having “civil discourse” with white oppressors.

LGBTQ rights were not granted because of niceness.

Where there is oppression, tables need flipping. As Jesus did not hesitate to do, driving out oppressors with the whips. He wasn’t so nice.

And that makes white people very uncomfortable.

Middle eastern Jesus doesn’t uphold the values of white comfort or any privileged groups. He looks very different from the white North American Jesus we hold dearly to who ignores the disregarding of the humanity of others while smiling in a purple sash.