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Portrait of Jemar Tisby Ph.D., courtesy Jemar Tisby
How to Fight Racism: A Conversation with Dr. Jemar Tisby
January 14, 2022
We explore the inspiration behind Dr. Jemar Tisby's new book, How to "Fight Racism: A Young Reader's Edition".
How to Fight Racism: A Conversation with Dr. Jemar Tisby January 14, 2022
On January 6, 2022, best-selling author Dr. Jemar Tisby shares reflections one year after thousands of Trump supporters stormed the grounds of the U.S. Capitol.  TIsby sees a growing tendency in political discourse to separate the threats to democracy from the racial dynamics at play around the question of who gets to vote and who is being elected.  Those views, according to Tisby, emerge in the public school battles around anti-racism education curricula.
How to Fight Racism: The Young Readers Edition
How To Fight Racism: Young Reader's Editon
Jemar Tisby

Although Tisby had seen similar arguments percolate in white Christian nationalist circles for several years, he saw a crucible of events in 2020 lead to greater racial anxiety among white Americans.  “There was all this focus on anti-racism and people reading books like White Fragility and how to be an anti-racist and things like that, that's when people said, oh, no, this is like pervasive and we need to oppose it.”  

For Tisby, the backlash was an inspiration, “it just bolstered my conviction that fighting racism has to be an intergenerational endeavor.”  He describes how his efforts now focus on engaging and equipping the “coalition of the willing” to do the work of racial justice.

Tisby’s three-pronged ARC framework for advancing racial justice is an acronym that stands for awareness, relationship, and commitment.   According to Tisby, the larger movement of rights work is very effective in identifying the problems, but too often “light on the prescription.” A problem he seeks to address in each section of the book. Without a commitment to creating systemic change in the institutions, one belongs to, Tisby believes, change will not be realized.

On the eve of the national holiday commemorating the birth of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tisby gets candid about the job of white Christian leaders in addressing racism today.  Sharing a story from the MLK50 celebrations in 2018, Tisby relays how the slow-paced response of white Evangelical leaders is reflected in the political debate around systemic racism.  While he sees disaffiliation as a challenge, he finds hope in seeing young leaders find creative ways to engage and build spiritual resilience.  Noting that while some Christians are “arguing about whether this is part of the gospel or not, other people who may not claim any faith at all are out there actually doing work to try to make the nation in the world a more equitable place.” While he sees disaffiliation as a challenge, he is hopeful that this younger generation is prepared and ready to create the change they seek in this world.

A useful primer on Critical Race Theory can be found on the American Bar Association's website.

This week's closing music, New Hope, by Audiobinger,
is used under a Creative Commons By Attribution 4.0 license.

All additional music by Blue Dot Sessions.

Remixes and sound design by Dissimilation Heavy Industries