Visual Summary of “Color of Compromise” by Jemar Tisby
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THE COLOR OF COMPROMISE: The Truth About the American Church’s Complicity in Racism
Book by Jemar Tisby
Summary by Joy Ming and Alisa Nguyen
RACISM = Prejudice + power
A SYSTEM OF OPPRESSION BASED ON RACE
Complicit vs Courageous Christianity
- Complicit Christianity: Comfort > Conflict. Devaluing the image of God in POC to keep the status quo
- Courageous Christianity: Stands against any person, policy or practice that devalues the glory of God in any human being
HOW CHRISTIANS RESPONDED TO RACISM THROUGHOUT U.S. HISTORY
THE BIBLE [image of an open Bible]
CLAIMS: Letter > spirit of the Word. The Bible should be followed word for word
REALITY: does not take into account the sociopolitical context of history
- SLAVERY TO CIVIL WAR: Christians at the time preferred the plain reading that the Bible did not explicitly prohibit slavery, even though including outside sources shows the idea of slavery in Biblical times was very different
- JIM CROW TO CIVIL RIGHTS: Southern Christians use the same argument to oppose Brown v. Board of Ed, saying segregation is not explicitly prohibited. [image of a scale]
- PRESENT DAY: On social issues today (abortion, LGBTQIA+ rights), some Christians still use “letter of the law” to support their stances.
THE CHURCH [image of a chapel]
CLAIMS: Spirituality of the church. The church is only declarative/ministerial, and has no jurisdiction over social/political
REALITY: Church <-> politics have shaped each other significantly
- SLAVERY TO CIVIL WAR: The question of slavery caused many church divisions, like the Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians. [image of a broken heart]
- JIM CROW TO CIVIL RIGHTS: Catholics and Pentecostals split over segregation. The church was actively involved in redlining. The KKK claimed to represent “Christian America.”
- PRESENT DAY: Evangelicals became more conservative and politicized and were vocal about some issues, but were noticeably silent about racism. [image of a ballot and ballot box]
THE INDIVIDUAL [image of a smiley face person]
CLAIMS: Accountable individualism. Individuals exist independent of structures, and are only accountable for their own actions
REALITY: Ignores the systems, structures, policies that create inequality
- SLAVERY TO CIVIL WAR: Missionaries wanted to save the souls of the slaves, without concern for their physical liberation. [image of broken chains]
- JIM CROW TO CIVIL RIGHTS: MLK Jr.’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” calls out moderate Christians, asking them to take a stance and take action in the fight for Civil Rights.
- PRESENT DAY: Christians see racism as an individual sin, the failure to love one’s neighbor that can be solved one conversion, one friendship at a time. [image of holding hands]
- [image of broken cycle] The history of the American Church’s response to racism has repeated itself and will continue to do so unless we choose courageous Christianity.
- [image of candle] Individual conversion without a change in policies, only continues to reinforce existing systems of oppression.
- [image of cross and ribbon] Reconciliation across racial lines is not something we can achieve, but a reality we must receive from God — it requires repentance, confession, and truth.
HOW DO WE BREAK THE REPETITION OF HISTORY?
- Watch/read history
- Diversify your social media
- Google first before asking your BIPOC friend
- Talk to others about their perspectives
- Find new places to hangout
- Join a new club/group with people who are different from you
- Create something that speaks to racial justice
- Join an organization that advocates for racial/social justice
- Donate money