SUMMARY: How to Fight Racism by Jemar Tisby is a book to help you take the next step when you want concrete, actionable advice and recommendations on how to work against racism. It is a Christian’s guidebook on being an anti-racist similar to how Compassion and Conviction is a guidebook for Christians engaging with politics.
Tisby’s book is split into three sections – Awareness, Relationships, and Commitment which make up his ARC of racial justice.
“Awareness, relationships, and commitment need not exist in perfect balance,” Tisby says. “The point of the (ARC) model is not to practice an equal number of actions in each area. Rather, the goal is to keep all three areas in conversation and tension with one another.”
Each chapter starts with essential understandings where he talks about important facts and terms in regard to racial justice before moving to racial justice practices where he suggests many practical ways individuals and groups can integrate racial justice into the daily rhythm of life.
“You must also realize that talking about race is not a one time lecture but an ongoing dialogue,” Tisby instructs. “You cannot sit down and have the ‘race’ talk with kids; you must have many ‘race talks.'”
The part of the book that you find the most helpful will largely depend on where you are at on your racial justice journey. With that said, we believe this book stands out in the relationship and commitment sections as the recommendations are outstanding. It is definitely a book to purchase and keep close at hand to help you navigate a number of scenarios at work, church, and home as you advocate for racial justice.
“Orienting your life toward racial justice requires constant reflection and action. It is not a one-time decision,” Tisby writes. “In community with with others who share the same concerns, we need to constantly ponder our practices to refine our approach to fighting racism.”
If you do not know the history of racism, be sure to first dig into the past before reading How to Fight Racism. We recommend Unsettling Truths by Mark Charles (American history) and The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby (American church history) as starting points.
KEY QUOTE: “Love for God and love for neighbor mean that preaching the gospel and working for racial justice are not at odds; each one needs the other. Some Christians have attempted to insert a wedge between the task of evangelism — claiming the good news of Jesus Christ in the Salvation he offers — and the task of racial justice. This is a false dichotomy.”
BONUS: Don’t have time to read the book? Skip to 33:34 and listen to Tisby’s interview on The Holy Post Podcast (we especially love when he talks about the image of God being foundational to healing).
RACIAL AUTOBIOGRAPY: Tisby asks in chapter 3 to write your race autobiography. Here is a PDF to help you get started.
DID YOU KNOW? Sunday to Saturday has a Good Reads page where we post all of the books we have read – even the ones that didn’t make the cut.
More curated books on racism:
When a major cultural event, such as George Floyd’s murder, shifts the focus of a country, it is easy to assume that critiques of the American church and racism are a recent phenomenon. Oftentimes we are simply unaware of prophetic voices from the the past such as Howard Thurman and his quintessential Jesus and the Disinherited. Penned in 1949, Thurman critiques the church and its seduction with power while detailing the psyche and motivation of the oppressed. His ultimate conclusion is that belief in Jesus, in conjunction with community, can empower the disinherited.Read more
To this day church services across the nation are some of the most segregated times of the week. Is this by random chance or was this intentional? Author Jemar Tisby details the sordid history of the American church and its complicity with racism in the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller The Color of Compromise.Read more