The People v. Jemar Tisby
I talk about what it's like when far-right Christians make me into an avatar of all that's wrong in modern racial justice.
These slanderous attacks have seriously limited the invitations I get to speak to various groups. Thanks to this Substack community, I am able to continue telling the truth. But the situation is precarious, and I could use your help.
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There’s a verse in the Bible I find myself contemplating often given my work in racial justice.
It’s Matthew 5:11…
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
It’s interesting to me that Jesus augments the word “persecute” with words describing slander. You are blessed when people “falsely say all kinds of evil” about you.
Those words came once again to my mind when the provost at Taylor University cited my work as one reason why he chose not to renew Professor Julie Moore’s contract.
When the provost vaguely named student complaints as an issue, Professor Moore asked what they specifically objected to.
“Jemar Tisby is the main focus,” the provost said.
This incident at Taylor University is but the latest in a line of similar events.
For a segment of far-right Christians my name and my work has become an avatar of all that is wrong with the modern pursuit of racial justice.
I get called Marxist, critical race theorist (as a pejorative), Communist, “woke,” and someone who “indoctrinates” people with lies and harmful teachings.
A lot of folks have asked me some version of the question, “What does it feel like to be a problem?”
Jesus said we’re blessed when we endure these types of attacks for the Kingdom. We are happy. We have a supernatural peace when people “falsely say all kinds of evil” about us.
I can say from experience this is true. I feel blessed. Not because people are calling me everything but my name, but because in the midst of such trials, I sense the nearness of Jesus in a profound and undeniable way.
I have just one message of encouragement for anyone wrestling with fear in the face of confronting oppression. When you pursue justice you get more of Jesus.
Jesus is near to those who draw near to him, not simply in word or thought, but in action. When we take up our cross and follow the path of Jesus we find that he is not in front of us leading the way, but right beside us making our yoke easy and our burdens light.
I got a chance to talk more in-depth about Taylor University and my work being used as an avatar of erroneous racial justice teachings in the church. I hope this conversation will encourage you to continually fight racism no matter what lies they speak against you.
What testimony of personal experience or words of encouragement do you have for those experiencing persecution for pursuing racial justice? Comment below!
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Thank you for standing strong. I wept through so much of this talk. I share “Color of Compromise” with people in my church and invite the for coffee and to talk. I know understand what is meant by white fragility. Instead of leaning in and learning and freeing Christ to work through us, they pull back, reject and resist.
You are making good trouble. The haters are so afraid of rational reasoning and speaking truth to power. The fight for reason is in. Soldier in.