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The Myth of Equality: Uncovering the Roots of Injustice and Privilege

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  725 ratings  ·  132 reviews
2017 Foreword INDIES Book Award Honorable Mention
Publishers Weekly's Five Best Religion Titles of 2017Is privilege real or imagined? It's clear that issues of race and equality have come to the forefront in our nation's consciousness. Every week yet another incident involving racial tension splashes across headlines and dominates our news feeds. But it's not easy to unpack
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published June 6th 2017 by IVP Books (first published 2017)
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Apr 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was born in the heart of the South (Birmingham, Alabama), only twenty-three days after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in a hospital just blocks from the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church where four African-American girls were killed in a bombing. Race has permeated my memory. Yet for years, I have puzzled over how anyone who calls themselves a follower of Christ can view anyone as inferior or as an other when we are all made in the image of God and are told that for God so loved th ...more
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recently a friend and mentor, who is a person of color, posted on social media of a recent invitation he had to explain white privilege. To white people.  My friend is a justice advocate, an activist, and well-known Christian leader. He declined the invitation to write about something he doesn't have. He decided instead to spend his creative energy supporting leaders of color instead of educating us white folk.

But Ken Wytsma, on the other hand, is uniquely gifted and qualified to describe white
Sep 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a follower of Christ, I was looking for a Christian perspective that addresses injustice in America, and this book turned out to be a great choice.

One of the surprising facts that I found in this book was that the white-washing of Christianity could be traced back to the time of Michelangelo, who portrayed God as a white European in the fresco painting of the Sistine chapel. I had seen the image when I was a college student, but at that time, I never even questioned the ethnicity of the peopl
Ryan Hawkins
I’ll split my review into two parts. First, an outline, without too many details or personal thoughts. Second, a bullet point list of ideas from the book and some of my own personal thoughts. But as a disclaimer, these are not my permanent opinions per se (I have much to think about and learn).


The book is split into three parts. The first is historical, giving a detailed history of race in America. This was enlightening, and there was much I simply didn’t know (things such as “convict l
Alysa Bajenaru
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Starting a conversation about race is difficult, especially when you are in the context of the white evangelical church. This book gives us the tools needed to begin that conversation by diving into the history of race in America and bringing to light not only WHAT is going on, but WHY we should care. I would call this a must-read for anyone who identifies as a Christian in America.

(All royalties go to helping publish leaders of color through the new Voices Publishing initiative with The Voices
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Summary: A white pastor explores the reality of white privilege from the perspectives of both American history and the gospel of the kingdom and how white Christians might pursue justice.

We all like to believe the best about ourselves.Most of us want to believe we are a society where everyone is equal. Most of us would like to believe racism and racial injustices are a thing of the past. And most of us, if we are white, squirm a bit when we hear the phrase "white privilege." I can imagine some w
Adam Shields
Jun 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short Review: This is is a book well worth reading. It opens with an excellent summary of history and review of the issues that have perpetuated and encouraged racism and inequality in the US. Then it moves to theology and diagnoses the problem as an overly individualistic understanding of our faith and a rejection of justice in this world as an important feature to our faith. He ends with a discussion of privilege and practical steps of how we can help resolve relationship, minimize our own rac ...more
Joseph Matuch
Jul 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent look at the history of race in America, especially the inequality that has been engrained in our culture in different ways throughout our history. The [white] church's role in this has often been lacking, whether by perpetuating injustice or standing by silently. The church and its members have a responsibility as followers of Christ to do justice.

I learned about a lot of specific ways in which there has been and is inequality in our country. I also will take away a greater
Jenna Ramsey
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Hard. Good. Necessary.
Faith Gibson salyer
Jun 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A great entry point for thinking about race issues as a Christ follower. Challenging, thoughtful, well written.
Roger Leonhardt
May 01, 2018 rated it did not like it
Like most from the left, his tolerance is only for those who agree with liberal talking points. This book contained more politics than bible. Jesus is portrayed as a leftist freedom fighter, who calls for social progressivism instead of individual forgiveness and salvation.

When giving the history of Slavery and Jim Crow, he leaves out the fact that these were created and maintained solely by Democrats. Even today leftist politicians like Hillary Clinton hold in high esteem those whose hatred of
Rebecca Henderson
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Reading through this book the past few weeks, I’ve found myself thinking of it often throughout the day after I’ve put it down, and I want to talk more with others in my community and my church about the ideas the author discusses. Conversations about race within the church can be so fraught with tension, and at the same time within the white evangelical community (which I belong to) they’re often oversimplified. Race, equality, and privilege is such a complicated topic, and I want to be a part ...more
I am still mulling over this book.

I picked up this book for free at BEA in NYC in summer of 2017. I never got to it and had to give it away when I moved again. But then I spotted the audiobook in a library database and decided to finally give it its chance.

I wanted to give Wytsma time to explain himself, but he never seemed to get there. It was too much talking around the issue, instead of solutions to the issue.

I agree with some of Wytsma’s statements and disagree with other statements. It’s a
Sue Schlesman
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this in a few days. I have rarely been so impressed by a book that deals with race and inequality, and I've never read anything that addressed the issue of white supremacy in a non-Neo-Nazi way. I grew up in the Midwest, not as a racist at all, but I never considered the issue of opportunity and supremacy merely because I was born into a middle-class white family. This perspective changes everything. There were stigmas attached to Native Americans and Mexican migrant workers, so I see how ...more
Jun 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
The first third of the book, focusing on the history of race in America, was informative in some ways. However, the book as a whole (including that first section) comes off as a very shallow treatment of a very complex subject. The second and third sections were particularly frustrating, as the gospel is largely absent or obscured in these portions in spite of the frequent references to (and misquotations of) Scripture. It also doesn't help that the author gives what appears to be a full endorse ...more
Janell Elliott
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Moving it to the top of my list of must-reads.

"My desire in looking at our racial past isn't to push American down but to help us know our medical history, as it were, so we can better prescribe the kinds of attitudes and behaviors that might help us repent, turn from our sin, and find reconciliation.'

"Implicit bias is the missing part of the conversation among people who don't think they are racist and who don't want to be racist."

"Often, it seems, we are less concerned with equality and justi
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Perfect recap from another reviewer:
This book has so many compelling points, like the need not to merely do acts of justice, but to become just. Or the idea that people might think they’re following the golden rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”) when really they’re following the silver rule (“Don’t do to others what you wouldn’t have them do to you.”) The silver rule is passive. The golden rule requires action.
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Such an excellent book about race and racism meant for the general reader--especially the Christian reader. Wytsma knows his stuff. He has a great writing style and can communicate both logic and compassion. He is a pastor and his motives are Christian motives, but the book is for the general reader. I would highly recommend this one.
Cara Meredith
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Pleasantly surprised: Ken Wytsma, a white guy, gets it. If you've read Coates, Alexander, Barber and the like, part of this will be a review for you. Otherwise, for those of us who grew up believing issues of race didn't have anything to do with us, it's a primer. ...more
Ellyn   → Allonsythornraxx
3.5 ⭐
I found some aspects of this really interesting and learned a lot of things that I'd literally never heard before but, for the most part, because the author focused so much on religion, most of this book went over my head. I highly recommend this for anyone who follows or takes part in Christianity.
Robert D. Cornwall
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
We live in strange times. There is both conversation about the problem of white privilege and claims that white men are being discriminated against. Which is it? When the Black Lives Matter movement emerged after the shooting of Michael Brown was shot by a white police officer, many White Americans responded with All Lives Matter. This response, while sounding egalitarian, failed to recognize that in our country the powers and principalities have valued white lives more than black and brown live ...more
Sep 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ken Wytsma was talking with a young man running his own landscaping firm who was proud of how he'd started from zero and succeeded by virtue of hard work, with no benefit from privilege. So Ken asked where he got most of his business (the suburbs) and where they worked on jobs (in backyards) and when (during the day) and how he got business (putting flyers on doors and knocking at houses).

Then Ken asked, "If you were a young black man proposing to work in the backyards of those suburbanites duri
Aug 21, 2019 rated it did not like it
Didn't realize that this book had such a religious bent to it when picking it up. Apart from that it's critically under-cited and uses the broad, undefined, unsubstantiated boogieman of "racism" to prove his point.

In one example Wytsma explains to a white landscaper that he's benefited from "structural racism" because his white customers don't have a problem trusting and hiring him which they surely would if he were a minority. This is a completely unsubstantiated claim that only makes sense to
Nadine Keels
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So. Is privilege in the United States real, or is it something that people imagine, for any number of reasons? Author Ken Wytsma takes a look at this issue in The Myth of Equality: Uncovering the Roots of Injustice and Privilege.

In my book reviews, I normally don’t make a big point of the author’s race or gender. Nevertheless, I’ll note that this book, which is directed toward a Christian audience, was written by a white man. And, yes, a lot of people—especially white people—should read it. It’s
Joel Wentz
Apr 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
A well-researched, thoughtful, passionate, and compassionate explanation of the more insidious aspects of racism and inequality in our cultural climate. And all this from a relatively conservative, White, evangelical perspective, no less.

Particularly for those who are not familiar with the work of people like Michelle Alexander, Bryan Stevenson, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Michael Eric Dyson, et al., this is going to be one of the better books you could put in their hands. Wystma steps carefully through t
Rachel A.  Dawson
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Love, love, loved this one (even when it hurt to read or made me cry or made me angry at how real and rampant injustice is). Grateful for the ways it opened my eyes to more of my own privilege and what I can do about it, more of the division in our country and how it has formed, more of how other people are experiencing very different things because of their race, and more about how we can actually work to bring about change and true freedom and healing for all people. This one was challenging, ...more
Kristin Hines
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I wish I could give this book more stars! I'll have to settle for writing the only review I've ever written on here. READ THIS BOOK. Be challenged to examine your privilege and do something about it. If discussions of privilege scare or offend you, then I say again READ THIS BOOK. If it doesn't scare you, but you feel uninformed and don't know where to start learning - READ THIS BOOK. I already want to read it again. ...more
Marella Mylet
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Raw and poignant. EXCELLENT READ for Christians who need to be woke, and also for Christians who need to be encouraged as we claw our way through the masses of fellow believers who still won’t admit that racial inequality is real, or if they do recognize it, still sit around in apathy believing that “Jesus has got it covered.” I wish I could hug Ken Wytsma and tell him thank you for writing this.
Brian White
For the most part this is a great book. Unfortunately he takes a detour midway to blame dispensationalism, Bill Bright's gospel presentation, and Billy Graham's sinner's prayer. These are not the causes of racism in America. The roots of our modern race issues are older than these men and movements and the detour is a weak distraction from an otherwise strong book. ...more
Melody Riggs
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book. I especially liked how the author was very clear that he was writing from a position of privilege as a white male, but called out how we (as a church) can do better to fight for justice and lay aside our privilege. I found this to be honest and though-provoking.

**Disclaimer- a friend of mine knows the author and did some work on this book.
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Ken Wytsma is a leader, innovator, and social entrepreneur respected for his insight and collaborative spirit. He is the president of Kilns College, where he teaches courses on philosophy and justice. He is the founder of The Justice Conference—an annual international conference that introduces men and women to a wide range of organizations and conversations relating to biblical justice and God’s ...more

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16 likes · 2 comments
“Racism is the diminishment of worth in men and women in and through bias, systems and power structures that disadvantage them in tangible ways based on skin color. Reverse racism is a phrase thrown around when white people are singled out or described in terms of their whiteness. It is often, however, a gross misapplication of the idea of racism.” 0 likes
“White supremacy in the United States is a historical fact. White suprematists who held to preferential treatment of whites and a discriminatory view of people of color ruled our government for much of our history. They enacted laws, they built systems, they created powerful social groups, and pursued wealth in ways that cannot be fully separated from their racial views and racial policies.” 0 likes
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