When I think about the difference between being Kind and being Nice, I think about perception. To me, being nice is a simple courtesy, a gesture doing something with minimal effort. As to kindness, it’s a characteristic that a person has, a perception of who people really are. I know many times the message of kindness is often talked about within the craniofacial and disabled community. Nevertheless, I don’t think we give this powerful message enough credence because we limit it to performing acts and gestures and not changing perceptions.
I have had many people be nice to me because of my disability.
In my own experiences, I have had many people be nice to me because of my disability. However, in the midst of their nice gesture they still did not embrace my difference. They were not kind. Their perception of differences and disability was connected to a false assumption or negative narrative. Within our culture today, many of us take on these acts of “niceness” without ever fully embracing what it means to be kind.
Kindness is doing more than what is required.
Kindness should always allude to our behavior and reactions toward people. For example, there may be a large corporation and they may do a nice thing by deciding to hire a disabled employee. However, we have to push for more than a nice gesture. We have to invoke institutions to be kind. Kindness would be for that organization to not just hire a disabled person to gain a tax credit, but to also ensure that they have the necessary accommodations to perform their job successfully. The organization should also let them know that their work is valued and their unique world view brings value to the company. I once heard a woman say that kindness is doing more than what is required.
...to see people for who they truly are takes more than being nice, it takes Kindness.
It is my desire to change the way our culture perceives, identifies, and relates to people with difference and disabilities. Not seeing differences as a sign of weakness or even a place to take pity, but seeing a disability simply for what it is - which is a concentrated limitation. I want to live in a world where people don’t react to my difference, but they appreciate, respect, and look beyond it. I want to live in a world where they see me for who I am, not for what I look like. And to see people for who they truly are takes more than being nice, it takes Kindness. Kindness is not only going into our schools and teaching them about the awesome story of Wonder, but it is also ensuring we have more inclusive classrooms and policies against bullying and teach kids and parents about differences. Kindness is not just providing medical care and insurance for the sick and disabled, but it’s making sure that our policymakers know that care without access is not care. Being nice gives us the option of care but being Kind allows us access to quality care and reasonable treatment costs. Kindness is more than making television shows about our differences but making sure different people are being offered those same roles and opportunities to share their stories. In essence, kindness creates environments for people to be authentically themselves without threat of preservation.
It’s time to stop being nice and Start being Kind!
Rasheera Dopson is the founder of Beauty with a Twist organization. Our mission is to provide a community that Esteem, Empowers and Educates individuals and their families who are affected by facial differences and disabilities. As the founder, I believe it my purpose to share my experiences in living with a craniofacial condition. I aspire to motivate and encourage persons of the disabled and non-disabled community to use their differences to change the world. You can read more from Rasheera on her blog.