Jemar Tisby on Three Words That Should Guide Our Pursuit of Racial Justice

Image: Illustration by Mallory Rentsch / Portrait Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers
Image: Illustration by Mallory Rentsch / Portrait Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers

In his 2019 book The Color of Compromise, author and speaker Jemar Tisby offered a comprehensive account of the relationship between American Christianity and racism. But understanding that history leads to the inevitable question: What now? Events like the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis have placed questions of racial justice front and center, spurring many Christians to ask what it means to reckon with racism in their own lives and in the lives of their churches. Tisby takes up these topics in his follow-up book How to Fight Racism: Courageous Christianity and the Journey Toward Racial Justice. Myles Werntz, director of Baptist studies and associate professor of theology at Abilene Christian University, spoke with Tisby about the next steps on this journey.

You note in the foreword of How to Fight Racism that this book is an extended meditation on the last chapter of The Color of Compromise, where you help readers process what they’ve read and invite them to do something with the historical knowledge they’ve received. How does this new book build on what went before?

This book comes from two places. First, it comes from the urgency that I felt about the need to take antiracist action. It’s funny: I thought that How to Fight Racism would be the first book I wrote, because I was eager to get to the “Let’s do something about racism” part. I’m very grateful that I wrote The Color of Compromise first, however, because I think it sets up what the issues of racism are so that we can come up with better solutions.

But the second impetus was that whenever I speak or teach about racism, the most frequent question I get is “What do we do?” I love this question because it shows that people are seeing that racism isn’t just a past question but a present one, and it also shows that they want to be part of the solution. And so, in response, I would typically give a scattershot answer about specific actions people could take, with no rhyme or reason. But I got the sense that this wasn’t leading to any actual action.

So, several years ago, I began to develop the framework of the book—the ARC of racial justice, which stands for Awareness, Relationship, and Commitment—to provide a more cohesive approach to racial justice in general.

Click here to read more.
Source: Christianity Today