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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

4.51  ·  Rating details ·  10,000 ratings  ·  1,750 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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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
Apr 14, 2019 rated it did not like it
In this book, Jemar Tisby paints a picture of America's racist history and of his vision for an America without racial inequality. His evidence is selective, his rhetoric is vivid, but what's missing from the earliest chapters is anything resembling a good and tight argument. Beginning with Tisby’s definition of racism on p.19, announced without hesitation as if it was wisdom from on high, he introduces unproven assumptions at each stage in the development of the book. It’s not a coincidence tha ...more
Adam Shields
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Most recent thoughts on the third full reading
Summary: The church has been complicit in the creation of a racial hierarchy.

Last night I finished up a discussion group for the Color of Compromise. I was not particularly interested in re-reading the book because I have read/listened to it two previous times and watched the video series twice. But the Color of Compromise is exactly the type of book that brings about a shared story of the history of the United States so that there can be a place for

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
Matthew Manchester
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I honestly don't know how to properly review this book and I've been trying to find words to describe what I just read. Here is my pitiful attempt.


I remember when I first read Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. I was horrified. I knew some of racism in some of its blatant forms (KKK, etc), but didn't grasp racist ideas and the influence, power, and history they hold. While Ibram Kendi's book covered religion, I longed for a Christian compan
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
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
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 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.
Chase Dunn
Dec 22, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: crt-sjw
Here are some bullet point thoughts that could expanded A LOT more. The influence of this book is seminaries is appalling to me.... here are some thoughts;

1. Racism behind every bush, EVERY bush.

2. An anti-biblical view of “justice”. Justice is always connected to righteousness in the Bible, however this view of justice elevates social change and equity to the place of preeminence. This sets aside true, biblical justice in the name of “social” justice. It should be noted that Scripture never use
Lydia Anvar
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"The refusal to act in the midst of injustice is itself an act of injustice. Indifference to oppression perpetuates oppression."

Deeply convicting, this book serves as a wake-up call to complicit, tepid Christianity. Tisby walks the reader through a survey of American history starting in 1619 and going all the way up to 2017. Drawing from a plethora of Christian and secular sources, he notes how much of history is white-washed—down-playing the real injustices: black Americans were robbed of econ
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
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.
Shayla Mays
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I thought Divided by Faith was helpful. This is even better.
Leandra Askew
Jan 09, 2021 rated it it was ok
I rated this so low bc it’s not what I expected. A long tour of the history of racism with interspersed info on the church. Lots of emphasis placed in politics and the gruesome details of the atrocities Black people endured. Alot felt like recycled info if you read enough race books. I wish the author would’ve really zeroed in on the church and given more definitive info on how the church was complacent...
Kaytee Cobb
INCREDIBLE. I learned so much. Required reading for all Christians. Learn your history. Change the present and the future.
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
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
Feb 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Now, the first five chapters, I felt like I wasn't really learning much new stuff. Those were talking about the history of slavery in the US from the early days of colonialism through the onset of the Civil War. And I've read a lot of books about race relations pre-Civil War, slavery, and life in the USA in that era, so... what Tisby was saying made sense, but it also wasn't new to me. If that's not an era or subject you've read and studied about, then you'll learn a lot from those first few cha ...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
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
Aug 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, nonfiction
I wish I could make every white christian person I know of US nationality read this book!!! So heartbreaking, gut punching, enlightening, and helpful while maintaining a positive voice that it is not too late for change and that we can hope for AND TAKE STEPS TOWARDS a better and healthier future. Highly recommend, even if you don’t fall into the demographic above as this book is powerful and helpful. I am thankful that the author took the time and effort and risk to share this, and I echo the w ...more
Gregory Jones
Dec 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As a life long Christian and scholar of US history, I was quite impressed by the work done by Jemar Tisby in this wonderful synthetic work. Tisby incorporates a lot of what I learned in history, political science, and sociology classes into a tidy narrative that helps to explain the "truth about the American church's complicity in racism."

But let me be clear --- this book is about the church and the nation, not about individuals. The book goes chapter by chapter following a chronological and the
Esther Nevener
Oct 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, deconstruction
This book completely shook my understanding of church history as well as the church's influence in politics. This is a sad reality to learn about but it has shifted my worldview and I'm thankful for that.

I would say this book is an informative history book for the first 10 chapters with minimal opinions and commentaries. The recounting of the historical relationship between racism and the Christian Church seemed unbiased, thorough, and well researched.

Once you get to the 11th chapter there is a
Catherine Norman
Jun 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
A timely and important read. Jemar Tisby is a prophetic voice for the church, and he writes in a way that is both accessible and brutally honest. Every white evangelical church congregation should dig into this book. It is a gracious gift to the white church that he would write it, and it is a call to both repentance and action. I appreciated the practical steps to move forward that he addresses at the conclusion, and would love to attend his vision of a new seminary. Grab a friend or book club ...more
Bernie Anderson
Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"History demonstrates that racism never goes away; it just adapts."

This is a must-read for every white American Christian. Tisby is a historian, with keen insight into the history of the Church in America as it relates to race. No white Christian is going to be comfortable with this, nor should they. But this book helps put a framework on everything that is happening in the US (and the world) right now as I write this review (June 2020).

This book is required reading.
Jun 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A must-read for all Christians
Brittany Shields
Apr 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
(3.5 rounded up to 4)

“There can be no justice without the truth.”

[FYI- I had to cut a lot out because Goodreads doesn't give me enough space. Check out my full review here]

I knew reading this book would be a struggle for me. I would have to come face-to-face with the atrocities done to black people in America’s past, largely based on a gross misuse of the very Bible that would eventually free them. I love the church, the bride of Christ, and my first reaction is always to defend God’s people. Bu
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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

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  The glint of fangs in the dark, the sound of tap-tap-tapping at your window, the howling of wind (or is it just wind?) in the trees...that's...
310 likes · 57 comments
“Christian complicity with racism in the twenty-first century looks different than complicity with racism in the past. It looks like Christians responding to 'black lives matter' with the phrase 'all lives matter.' It looks like Christians consistently supporting a president whose racism has been on display for decades. It looks like Christians telling black people and their allies that their attempts to bring up racial concerns are 'divisive.' It looks conversations on race that focus on individual relationships and are unwilling to discuss systemic solutions. Perhaps Christian complicity in racism has not changed after all. Although the characters and the specifics are new, many of the same rationalizations for racism remain.” 18 likes
“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.” 17 likes
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