Jemar Tisby, author of the bestselling book The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism, speculated Tuesday evening that widespread unrest was necessary to convince a Minnesota jury to convict former police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.
“Look at all the work it takes—video evidence, eyewitness testimony, historic uprisings—just to get a single conviction,” Tisby wrote on social media. “Look at all the work it takes just to get folks to believe us.”
Look at all the work it takes—video evidence, eyewitness testimony, historic uprisings—just to get a single conviction. Look at all the work it takes just to get folks to believe us.#DerekChauvinTrial #GeorgeFloyd #BlackLivesMatter
— Jemar Tisby (@JemarTisby) April 20, 2021
“Uprisings” appears to be a euphemism from Tisby for violent riots, which were estimated to have cost at least 11 lives and billions in damages as of September 2020. He does not clearly define “uprisings” as riots, but he has previously called the 1992 Los Angeles riots an “uprising” and drawn a distinction between “uprisings” and regular protests.
#OnThisDay: On April 29, 1992 a jury in California acquitted four police officers of brutally beating Rodney King, a crime caught on tape and seen by millions. The acquittal sparked an uprising in Los Angeles & once again exposed the reality of police brutality.#NoJusticeNoPeace pic.twitter.com/sBnmBBH7m0
— Jemar Tisby (@JemarTisby) April 29, 2020
It had already been there, but Mike Brown's killing, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the Ferguson uprisings helped highlight the glaring gap between black Christians and white evangelicals.#MikeBrown #Ferguson #BlackLivesMatter https://t.co/Ys145PvbcE
— Jemar Tisby (@JemarTisby) August 9, 2019
Time will tell if the protests and uprisings of 2020 lead to lasting transformations in the US. What is clear is that racial progress does not occur apart from the sustained efforts of people who dedicate themselves to fighting racism in all its forms.https://t.co/PByaRntrSr pic.twitter.com/tvDBveslVG
— Jemar Tisby (@JemarTisby) December 3, 2020
Tisby is a co-founder of a blogging and podcasting website called The Witness — formerly known as the Reformed African-American Network (RAAN) — and recently was named Assistant Director of Narrative and Advocacy at Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University.
I'd like to warmly welcome @JemarTisby, our new Assistant Director of Narrative and Advocacy @AntiracismCtr. Tisby is the @nytimes bestselling author of The Color of Compromise and How to Fight Racism. He is the founder of The Witness and co-hosts the Pass The Mic podcast. pic.twitter.com/Hh8RDLFHDD
— Ibram X. Kendi (@DrIbram) March 24, 2021
Tisby and The Witness have popularized a movement called “Leave Loud,” encouraging black Christians to leave majority-white churches but first challenging the leadership of those congregations to adopt “racial justice” advocacy.
— Jemar Tisby (@JemarTisby) March 1, 2021
He explained this movement to CNN last summer, identifying himself as “post-evangelical”:
The Black Christian historian, who left his predominantly White denomination years ago, said he receives several messages per week from Christians looking to follow in his footsteps.
He says many write him after their White pastors minimize or try to explain away devastating incidents of anti-Black police brutality. They ask Tisby, should they leave?
“We are telling them to get out,” he said. “Especially at this moment, if your churches are not taking a strong stand on racial justice it’s unlikely they ever will.”
Tisby is not alone in this sentiment; several far-left commentators have also stated public pressure may have been a factor for the jurors in the Chauvin case. CNN’s Van Jones said Tuesday: “This was not the system working. This was people making the system work. That’s the key… What happened is the voting worked. You can tell the young people now voting matters. The protesting worked. You can tell young people marching matters.”
The self-described socialist publication Left Voice wrote on social media: “I hope we can all agree that uprisings work, not the justice system.” Activist YoNasDa LoneWolf declared: “I hate that we had to protest, have uprising in the streets in order for ONE police officer to go to prison for killing #GeorgeFloyd.” Libertarian author Cathy Riesenwitz said: “It took weeks of widespread rioting for prosecutors to bring murder charges” against Chauvin, despite the viral video showing him kneeling on Floyd’s neck. Rapper Derek Minor wrote: “I’m mad that it took live video of a grown man getting choked to death for 9 minutes, begging for his momma, and riots for damn near a month to get a sliver of justice for a black father, son, brother.”
Kendi and Tisby’s Center for Antiracist Research also put out a statement echoing this belief: “We are especially grateful that this verdict spares George Floyd’s family of yet more grief,” it says. “Yet the immense effort it took—including a historic level of protests from millions of people in 2020—to secure a conviction in a single case points to larger systemic issues within policing.”
Tisby is currently promoting his second book published through Zondervan, How to Fight Racism: Courageous Christianity and the Journey Toward Racial Justice.
Four months after its release, it has not yet reached the New York Times bestseller list as Color of Compromise did. Weeks after How to Fight Racism was published, Tisby’s soon-to-be boss re-surged to #11 on the nonfiction bestseller list with his 2019 title How to Be an Antiracist.