A Closer Look at One of PW’s Top 100 Books of the Year!

A Closer Look at One of PW’s Top 100 Books of the Year!

Ken Wytsma Publishers Weekly Top 100 2017 Myth of Equality

Editor’s Note: It is a rare occurrence when one of our books is selected as one of Publishers Weekly’s top books of the year. This year, The Myth of Equality by Ken Wytsma received this prestigious recognition. We asked Ken more about the experience of receiving this award, what makes his book unique, and what his long-term hope is for the book. (The answer may surprise you.)


IVP: Congratulations on The Myth of Equality being named as one of 2017’s top 100 books by Publishers Weekly! How did you find out the news?

I was at The Justice Conference in Melbourne, Australia and woke up to several tweets from IVP. No better way to find out!

The Myth of Equality by Ken WytsmaIVP: What is your reaction to this kind of recognition from a secular magazine that represents the entire U.S. book publishing industry?

Honestly, I’m a bit humbled. It is a book on privilege where I take pains to point out that I am not—cannot—be the expert on race as someone who has never experienced racism personally. In many respects, I am a learner. So one part of me feels like there are so many books that might have been better in that spot. But I am gratified that the work of so many people on this project* has earned recognition; and, more than that, that it is proving to be a bridge book for so many people looking to grow into a more thoughtful and engaged perspective on equality, privilege, and Christian discipleship.

I am not—cannot—be the expert on race as someone who has never experienced racism personally.

And it is cool that my youngest two daughters now think I’m a bigger deal than I am!

(*People on this project refers to Al Hsu with his tireless edits; David Fassett for his cover design; the publicity team, especially Alisse Wissman for her work promoting this book with PW; Justin Lawrence and Andrew Bronson from the sales and marketing teams; Helen Lee who conceived of and first approached me with the idea, and many more at IVP. Friends Emily Hill, Ben Larson, Adrianne Salmond, Rick Gerhardt and so many others helped during the writing and editing phases.)

IVP: What do you think it was about your book that garnered attention from PW?

I believe old conversations, like that of America’s racial past, allow for bad ideas to hang around and prevent us from seeing things with fresh eyes or hearing conversations with ears to hear. Accordingly, we usually shut down dialogue or trade strong opinions we picked up somewhere along the way that have been baked into pithy (but usually woefully inadequate) slogans. I think history—telling the story—is incredibly powerful for jolting people, helping them see things anew, and engaging their empathy, which is the trait that carries us toward justice. I also think exposing faulty theology or how we’ve allowed compartmentalized or apathetic faith to exist for so long is vital.

I believe old conversations, like that of America’s racial past, allow for bad ideas to hang around and prevent us from seeing things with fresh eyes or hearing conversations with ears to hear.

So, maybe the combination of history and theology helped; but, honestly, I just tried to tell the story as best I could and as passionately and humbly as I could and never dreamed the final manuscript would resonate as deeply as it has.

IVP: How does your experience with writing and publishing this book differ from your previous publishing experiences? What about the IVP process has been distinct?

Ken Wytsma, author of The Myth of Equality
Ken Wytsma

This question is easy. I’ve loved the experience with IVP. From the welcome author packet and being treated like part of a family to the unbelievable work on editorial and marketing, it has been impressive to see and a joy to take part in. I also think there was a unique connection between the message of this book and the passions of those who were helping publish it. It felt much more like a collaborative mission than simply a book project.

IVP: What kinds of responses have you received about the book that have been particularly meaningful to you?

I think the comments that have been most meaningful to me have come from leaders of color who either respected and affirmed the finished work or those who were incorporating it in their ministries as a resource to help tell the story connecting privilege and injustice in our racial history.

IVP: Given the book’s topic, we imagine you might have received some negative responses as well. What kinds of feedback have been most difficult?

Without going into detail, it has been an incredibly hard, but good, season. What I did learn was that many evangelicals don’t want to be challenged and even take it as a right that going to church can and will protect them from having to engage some of these messier conversations. I also learned that there are many courageous pastors, church workers, and Christians of all ages who, in their love for God and others, are willing to not only engage, but make difficult changes in their lives based on hearing truths about the gospel and the world in which we live. It is the latter of these who have deepened my hope and renewed my faith in what is possible with the local church.

Many evangelicals don’t want to be challenged and even take it as a right that going to church can and will protect them from having to engage some of these messier conversations.

IVP: What is your long-term hope for the impact of this book?

That people would sense my sincerity, that it would have a deep impact on those who read it, and that it would eventually go out of print—being replaced with better books by leaders of color.


Connect with Ken at kenwytsma.com or follow him on Twitter: @kjwytsma.

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