Book: The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism
As a life-long Presbyterian I am used to things being orderly and predictable. To say that The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby shook up that view is an understatement.
It is significant to note that the copyright on this book is 2019- which predates all the turmoil that was the year 2020: the racial disparity of the global pandemic as well as the police involved killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbry just to highlight a few events.
2020 was a significant year in race relations, but it is just one year of many. Jemar Tisby seeks to use the history of the American Protestant Church to highlight how race relations have reached the pinnacle of contention that they have. From the very earliest times, European settlers came to this country and attempted to erase people of color not only from their land but from their very identity. Their customs and spiritual lives were dismissed in favor of a life that was deemed better by those same European settlers
This book brought me to a perspective I had not previously considered. From the very beginning of the American Protestant Church, the Church was actively involved in establishing systems that created systemic racism. The Church failed, over and over, to stand up to acts of racism and in fact advocated for laws that actively discriminated against people of color And, that failure to stand up is a result of a fear of offending someone, in fact, a fear of things not being orderly and predictable.
That fear is justified. The road to social justice is not a smooth one and real conflict is inevitable. However, as Tisby reminds us, God commands us to move forward without fear “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). Tisby calls on us to practice “Courageous Christianity”
Reading this this book has caused me to examine every single experience in my life through a different lens. Upon completion of this book, the question in my mind was “if not me, then who?”
Reviewed by Kristin Marsden, Member of the FPC Anti-Racism & Equity Task Force