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The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism
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The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism

4.54  ·  Rating details ·  651 ratings  ·  216 reviews
In August of 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, calling on all Americans to view others not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. Yet King included another powerful word, one that is often overlooked. Warning against the "tranquilizing drug of gradualism," King emphasized the fierce urgency of now, the ne ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published January 22nd 2019 by Zondervan
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4.54  · 
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 ·  651 ratings  ·  216 reviews

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Jonathan Newman
Wow. This has to be one of if not THE most important books on race and racism I have ever read. It is a historical survey of how the American church in general, especially white Christians, have largely not only failed to oppose racism but have also been culpable in creating it and preserving it. While mostly just telling the truth, it has a bit of a prophetic voice as well, especially towards the end.

The author, Jemar Tisby, is a Christian leader and speaker and PhD candidate for U.S. History.
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very painful and important read.
Stephen Matlock
This is perhaps one of the most accessible, clear, and gentle book you might read about the history of, and acceptance of, white supremacy and black abasement of the American nation and in the American church.

Tisby is an historian and does not shave meaning or impact by using soft words. When you read this, you understand what he is saying, directly: racism in the American church was, and is, a deliberate choice. Nothing that has happened so far had to happen.

But the good news is that our Amer
Alison Chino
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have been following Jemar Tisby's work for a couple of years now and have been eagerly anticipating the release of his new book The Color of Compromise, so when calls went out for advance readers, I raised my hand high. 

I've been digesting the book slowly for a few weeks and here is what most amazes me: I have been reading and studying America's racial past for a while now, but this specific history of the American church's leading role in maintaining racism has been, for the most part, previo
Jun 10, 2019 rated it liked it
"History and Scripture teaches us that there can be no reconciliation without repentance. There can be no repentance without confession. And there can be no confession without truth."

Tisby's book gives a historical overview of how the white Christian church has been complicit in the promotion of racism in America from 1619 to the present day. Most of the history will be familiar to you if you are already knowledgeable of Black history. The individual stories were new to me, such as how some chur
Shayla Mays
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I thought Divided by Faith was helpful. This is even better.
Adam Shields
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Summary: An introductory survey of American history and the relationship of the church to racism.Racism is hard to talk about because we have a hard time agreeing with what racism is. Not only the definition of the word, but looking at specific events the discussion frequently devolves into, ‘That was racist’ and ‘I don’t understand how you can say that was racist’. The Color of Compromise is an introductory survey of how the church has compromised with racism over history. Early chapters cover ...more
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
A helpful contribution to an ongoing and important conversation about the church and racism. The Color Of Compromise is a survey of the American church and the evolution of racism and racialization, but also includes some thoughts about how to respond.
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So good, and so needed. I can see how this would be hard to take in, but I have been researching and reading up on this topic for two years now and everything this book says is true. How the white church responds will say a lot about us. The verse that keeps popping into my head is Proverbs 27:6 - “Wounds from a friend can be trusted”. This book might wound us, but it is trustworthy and necessary. I pray we humble ourselves and take his words to heart.
Lauren Miller
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had been following Jemar’s work on the podcast Pass the Mic for a while and eagerly looked forward to his first book. This book went above and beyond my expectations. It is challenging, convicting, and at times, hard to read, but it’s impossible not to be moved to feel SOMETHING when reading this book. As someone who lived overseas for a number of years and who completed graduate work in intercultural studies, I like to consider myself someone who is an advocate for the vulnerable in other cul ...more
Megan Byrd
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-books-read
This book walks through the history of slavery and racism in the United States beginning with the colonization of the east coast to present day. It shows the complicity of the church and Christians in the country's establishment and perpetuation of racist policies after slavery was abolished. It lists steps that can be taken presently to move toward and possibly bring about racial reconciliation.

It was a very informative and challenging book. I was sickened by the actions and decisions made thr
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Five stars is not enough...y'all should see the amount of underlining and highlighting and tabbing I did throughout this book! I completely agree with Lecrae that Tisby has done a service to the church through this insightful, well-researched, and well-written work. (And Chapter 11, which presents practical ways to address racial injustice, is alone worth the price of the book.) I will likely reread it, and am looking forward to discussing it with friends and fellow book-clubbers. #ColorofCompro ...more
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A book that will stretch and challenge white Christians. This scholarly look at historical events where Christians were, and are, complicit in racism, is not light reading. Learning from history is important for understanding the mistakes of the past, and avoiding them in the future. Racism has not gone away, it is more subtle in 2019 and without a clear understanding of where the church came from, we won’t recognize how we have enabled systemic oppression. Jemar Tisby is not afraid to speak tru ...more
Joshua D.
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The burden of Mr Tisby's book is that there can be no justice without truth. The majority of the book is a historian's analysis of the church's record on race, particularly in the United States. Trained as a historian, Tisby is also a gifted writer and is able to distill lots of information into digestible chapters. That doesn't mean this book is easy to read, however. Rather, it's extremely difficult, not because of the writing, but because of the subject matter. Tisby's descriptions of slavery ...more
Adriel Rose
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an extremely important work coming out at just the right time. Tisby has accomplished a historical survey that will help the reader from every point of learning about racism in the United States. Whether you're just starting to learn or are further on the journey, The Color of Compromise will open your eyes to the patterns of racism throughout this nation's history.

Each chapter takes the reader through a different time period when the American Church was given a choice, to further the c
Mike Skinner
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I learned a ton while reading this book and a good amount was like a gut-punch to my soul. My biggest complaint was that my carpel tunnel flared up a bit because of all the underlining and notating it caused me to do. Looking forward to discussing this work with our church’s book club soon.
Chris Hubbs
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-reads
An excellent overview of the history of the American church’s compromise with racism. Should be mandatory reading in evangelical churches across the country.
Michael McGee
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Exceeded my hopes for a historical survey of the church’s complicity in Racism. Jemar is a great student of history and has a insightful prophetic voice.
Todd Miles
This was a hard book, but a good book, to read. Confronting a past that one is blissfully unaware of is not easy, but "the wounds of a friend are trustworthy" (Prov 27:6). Throughout, Jemar Tisby writes as a faithful friend, a true brother, in bringing to light an embarrassing and shameful past. One may not agree with all of his recommended applications, but we at least have to listen and consider. By my reckoning, Tisby has gone a long way in understanding the way that I think and has written a ...more
Josiah Neumann
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book upset me. Racism upsets me. Jemar Tisby succinctly describes racism in America's history, and how time after time the Christian church allowed (or encouraged) racist actions. The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism has had a sobering effect on me and is convicting in its message.

Tisby outlines American history from colonial times to the present. He makes note that this his words are not the story in its entirety, but that it is a historical s
Ian Hammond
If I would have read the last chapter before I read the others, I probably would have been less open to his recommendations at the end (for example, whereas I was a disinterested moderate, I, now, believe that the Confederate monuments and iconography around the South 'must' come down). But through the course of the book, however, Jemar Tisby historically situates matters in such a way that makes the more discreet forms racism more noticeable.

I found easy agreement with the first part of the boo
Ebony McCain
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As a person who loves to read books about Christianity, the law, and history- this book delivered. In the first chapter of the book, the author quotes 2 Corinthians 7:9. "As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting." After reading, digesting, and reflecting on this historical survey, the church should collectively be grieved into repenting. I admit that I thought I would know most of what this book would say, but I was presently surprised to see ...more
Jack Heller
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I might have gone into this book with the wrong expectation. I learned things I didn't know about Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Billy Graham, and the antebellum church splits. But this is less a history than a prophecy, in the sense of speaking truth to power. Certainly, the less history you already know, the more history you will learn from this book, so there will be plenty of readers who learn a lot. I would like a book that goes deeper into the history.

That said, this is a necessary,
Patrick D
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When it comes to race within the context of American history, most U.S. history courses provide a very Eurocentric and “white”-centric version of events that have come to shape our country. It typically begins with the “discovery” of the Americas all the way up to the Civil War. It then largely skips over Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and Civil Rights (while discussing WWI and WWII) before landing in the Cold War-era. Yet for nearly a century (post-Civil War through 1960’s), actions and policies wer ...more
Ted Tyler
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Phenomenal book. Jemar Tisby commands my respect after carefully and thoughtfully penning such a sobering yet thought-provoking book. He writes a work that myself and many other fellow whites desperately need. Throughout America's 300 year history (colonial and national), white Christians have largely compromised at every turn when it comes to race. Whites frequently created systems, norms, and institutions that led to the dehumanization, degradation, and discrimination of blacks. Tisby holds no ...more
A rehearsal of American history focusing primarily on the willingness of professing Christians to compromise Biblical standards and allow for the perpetuation of horrific treatment of black people in the name of compromise to various forces and powers.

The author recognizes that many works have been written on American history and the treatment of black people in slavery, under Jim Crow, and to the modern day. He will provide the basic outline of events and explains how it happened that black peo
Molly Lewis
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As I read this book I was reminded many times of the limited and, at times, distorted historical information taught in mainstream public education in the United States. Jemar Tisby describes his work as a historical survey which may bring to mind an outline, bullet points, or a highlight reel. Yet he brings out important details that explain the roots of racism throughout American history and how the American church has been influenced by it.

Covering our nation’s history from colonial days prio
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I got an advanced copy of this book to review. I was glad to find an accessible and encouraging read (i.e. not a dry, history text) in the sense that Jemar has anticipated the variety of perspectives his readers might approach this work with and addresses concerns, lovingly reminding us all that the goal is sharing/learning the truth in love to the glory of God and for the good of His people.

That being said, as Jemar lays out historical events, there are a lot of hard truths to learn. Some thing
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For white Christians, with conservative tendancies, I don't think I can overstate the importance of this book. Tisby does a flyby overview of the the histories of slavery, racism, and racialization (look this up, I had to) and the American (mostly Evangelical) church. He shows how the church was, literally, built on the backs of slaves, and how, even as it came to, eventually, condemn slavery and racism, it never committed itself to an attempt to right the wrongs of those institutions or the soc ...more
Josh Robinson
Mar 18, 2019 rated it liked it
The historical survey is fair and heartbreaking, which is why I rated the book a three instead of a one. The application is quite troublesome and overshadows, for me personally, almost everything good that Tisby has done in this work.

Now, the reason why I find it troublesome is because Tisby uses explicitly biblical terms in his application like Jubilee and Restitution, but divorces it from its historical context and entirely redefines them.

At a glance, you may be tempted to say application do
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Jemar Tisby is president and co-founder of The Witness: A Black Christian Collective. He has written about race, religion, and culture for The Washington Post, CNN, Vox, Christianity Today and The New York Times. He is the co-host of the Pass The Mic podcast, which is frequently rated as one of the top 100 religion and faith podcasts on iTunes. Tisby is a PhD student in history at the University o ...more
“The failure of many Christians in the South and across the nation to decisively oppose the racism in their families, communities, and even in their own churches provided fertile soil for the seeds of hatred to grow. The refusal to act in the midst of injustice is itself an act of injustice. Indifference to oppression perpetuates oppression.” 4 likes
“Jumping ahead to the victories means skipping the hard but necessary work of examining what went wrong with race and the church.” 3 likes
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