David B Hunsicker

Ecclesia en Exodus Blog

Thoughts on Christianity and the Church after Christendom.

Book Review: The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby

Zondervan, 2019.

Zondervan, 2019.

Book Review: The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism by Jemar Tisby

I had the opportunity to speak at a conference at Dordt College last month. One of the keynotes at the conference was Jemar Tisby, a doctoral student in US History at Ole Miss. I picked up a copy of Tisby’s recently published The Color of Compromise and have been reading through it in the evenings before bed.

The Color of Compromise is an unremarkable book to the extent that it is a broad overview of US history with particular emphasis on the history of racism in America. A number of books like this have been published in recent years (My wife and I read pieces of Stamped from the Beginning last year and enjoyed it). I call these types of books “unremarkable” because they don’t uncover new research or break new ground.

And yet, these books are remarkable. In the first instance, The Color of Compromise is remarkable to the extent that in 2019 we need a book like Tisby’s in order to remind us of the inconvenient truth that American Christianity is complicit in the formation and perpetuation of Racist social structures in American society. In the second instance, The Color of Compromise is remarkable because it is truly remarkable that Tisby has the patience to write and re-write the story of American Christianity in a manner that is both accessible and hopeful in spite of the fact that the current climate suggests that all evidence points to the contrary. I take Tisby’s hopefulness to mean that he takes Christianity seriously enough to believe that he is bound up with his racist brothers and sisters in this greater thing called the body of Christ. And his confidence in God’s future for his people enables him to be honest and patient about the past and present in the hope that other Christians will see that things could have and still can be different because ultimately they will be different.