The title grabbed me. “Is Jemar Tisby’s best selling book about racism a fluke?”
Jemar Tisby’s first book is called The Color of Compromise and it is hard hitting. He gives an unvarnished look at the American church and its complicity all through history when it has come to slavery and racism. When George Floyd’s murder happened, his book flew off the shelves. It hit The New York Times bestseller list.
Is this a breakthrough moment or a “one off”?
Even Tisby is circumspect in his evaluation:
“I got the sense that churches were ready to learn and to understand a perspective other than one they had been raised with,” Pazdur (editor of the book) said.
The success of The Color of Compromise might be a watershed: the inflection point when swaths of white evangelicals start to take racism, and Christian complicity and compromise with racism, seriously.
“You never know how long a moment is going to last,” editor David Bratt told Publishers Weekly, “but this one seems to have staying power. … There is a real sense from people that they want to do what is right and didn’t realize until now their compliancy in this system.”
Tisby isn’t so sure. “I don’t want to make too much of it,” he said. “It’s a similar issue we find in church congregations where we celebrate the presence of racial and ethnic minorities without critically examining equity and inclusion…. It is not a negative, but more work needs to be done.”
More HERE. It’s a good article and worth your time.
My answer to the question, “Is this book a fluke?” is straightforward: YES. In this moment.
I am grateful for Tisby and his work. And there are so many more books worth our time and consideration and learning. But the past couple of weeks have left me drained (again) when it comes to our ability as white Christians to sustain this conversation.
A couple of weeks ago there were two national meetings of churches. The Southern Baptist Convention was the big one. They seemed to be in meltdown mode over women in ministry (along with their incredible ability to ignore decades of sexual abuse from pastors in the SBC) and a little known academic pursuit called “Critical Race Theory.” For some reason, that was now the new bugaboo everyone was up in arms about.
The Anglican Church in North America also met and the keynote address also chose to highlight CRT in an uninformed way.
I have said it before and I will repeat it here. When you take the scare tactics of the anti-civil rights white movement of the 1960s and overlay that language with what is going on today, the language is exactly the same. MLK was called “Socialist” and “Communist” on a regular basis. “Marxist” was also popular. Today… same thing. The only thing missing today is the “N” word… and THAT has been replaced by using the words “Critical Race Theory” and “Woke” with disdain. (There was an entire conference put on by …. well… white men… on the dangers of “Woke” the week before the SBC gathering.)
No proof. Just flash words meant to bring fear into our comfortable white lives.
So, I believe Tisby’s success, while warranted, is a flash. It’s a one-off. We, as whites, are weary all over again and we want our comfort back. If we have to mislabel a concept we don’t understand at all just to roll over and continue our naps, well so be it. If it offends young ethnic ministers while we think we can still say, “Please be ministers in our denomination,” well so be it.
The white conservative American church continues its journey into Babylonian exile.