“Is Jemar Tisby’s Bestselling Book About Racism a Fluke?” Article by Dan Hummel in Christianity Today

July 8, 2021

Dan Hummel, Director of University Engagement at Upper House, recently published an article in Christianity Today that reflects on the currency of Jemar Tisby’s 2020 book, The Color of Compromise, which cracked the New York Times bestseller list last year. Tisby’s book is the exception in Christian Publishing, preceded as it was by two decades of Christian publishers trying to elevate authors of color and issues of social justice in their lists. Whether Zondervan’s publishing Tisby’s history of racism in the American church signals a shift in sales in the Evangelical publishing world remains to be seen, as Hummel reflects in his well-researched article, introduced below.

Jon Anderson found The Color of Compromise at just the right moment. As the executive director of Collaboration Project, a ministry that connects local churches for the well-being of their city, he was searching for something to help pastors in Madison, Wisconsin, in the summer of 2020.

“We had just had one of the largest marches in state history for racial justice,” Anderson said, “and I was hearing from church leaders: ‘What do we do now?’ ”

Jemar Tisby’s history of racism in the American church, published by Zondervan, came as the perfect answer. Anderson organized a group of 27 ministers from 19 congregations to read the book and discuss ways to channel “the pent-up energy around racial justice into our congregations and our community in tangible ways.”

Sales numbers show that the Madison church leaders weren’t the only ones turning to Tisby in 2020. The first-time author’s year-old book landed on The New York Times Best Seller list that June and cracked the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association’s 100,000-sales mark in October.

That’s an incredible feat—even more remarkable considering that Tisby is only the fifth Black author to make it onto the evangelical bestseller list and his is the only book about racism to ever win the 100,000-sales award.

—Complete article at Christianity Today is available to CT subscribers.