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Racists Anonymous (RA) – 12 Step Program

What is Racists Anonymous and when did it start?

The organization of Racists Anonymous is a 12-step fellowship that was created for individuals who want to end racism in themselves. While it utilizes the same concept and format as Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 step groups, it is in no way affiliated with them; it simply follows a 12-step recovery process because this method is extremely successful.

When did it start?

A more recently created group, Racists Anonymous started in 2015 by Pastor Ron Buford of the Sunnyvale, California United Church of Christ. The organization began after the mass shooting in Charleston, S.C., at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, done by a 21-year-old white supremacist. The shooting took place during a Bible study of a predominantly black congregation and killed nine of the church’s members. Before the group began, Pastor Buford tried, in his own ways, to deal with the race issues, but they often left him feeling frustrated and its white participants feeling guilty.

As of 2017, the group had over 90 congregations in at least four countries, with some growing independently on their own. The goal of Racists Anonymous is to end racism one person at a time, allowing members to start with themselves. The program believes that while all people are racist to some degree, improving oneself instead of trying to “fix” or “force” a change will help improve their own lives as well as slowly ending racist beliefs in themselves.

How does Racists Anonymous work?

The first step of the program asks members to “admit powerlessness over their addiction to racism, in ways that they are unable to fully recognize, let alone manage.” Racism is believed to be an illness, just as alcoholism or drug addiction is in other 12 step groups. Racists Anonymous believes that in an American culture, every individual is raised to be racist to some degree, so the fellowship allows individuals to acknowledge it and do something about it.

Giving members the opportunity to acknowledge that they have a problem that they cannot manage on their own allows them to explore racism within themselves in safe rooms with other like-minded individuals. The only way to address the problem and begin making changes in oneself is to accept that there is a problem of racism. Once members are aware of these behaviors, they allow themselves the opportunity to begin improving them.

Not only are meetings a safe place for members to share their thoughts and experiences, they can also express their racist feelings or how they have witnessed racism firsthand but done nothing to stop it. Attending meetings can be humbling to participants because acknowledging unconscious racist tendencies is not something everyone is capable of doing. Because meetings are open and beneficial to everyone, there are all kinds of members in attendance including whites, Asians and blacks.

Why is Racists Anonymous effective?

While Racists Anonymous uses the same format and concepts as other 12-step programs, it is a little different when it comes to identifying the addiction problem. Although racism is not necessarily a traditional “addiction,” cultural norms that reinforce prejudice and discrimination are still prevalent today, making it impossible for some individuals to free themselves from racism or racist thoughts. Racists Anonymous is so effective for its members because it gives individuals the chance to assess their own behaviors, learn from others in the group and see how they, themselves, perpetuate racism, whether purposely or accidentally.

Once members of the group recognize these behaviors in themselves, they can attempt to change and eliminate them rather than continue acting upon them. Members can also begin putting their old behaviors behind them and engaging in new, accepting behaviors, such as openly communicating and having mutual hospitality despite cultural or racial differences. The most important part of the program is not necessarily changing these thoughts and negative behaviors, but more so becoming aware of them and making an honest effort to work towards self-improvement.

In the organization of Racists Anonymous, racism is defined as affecting more than just someone’s skin color. Racism is defined as abilities, class, gender, sexual orientation and more. This allows members to focus on all types of individual biases, rather than just race, so that they can regard all human beings as equal.

Why is Racists Anonymous so important?

For some members, attending the first meeting of Racists Anonymous can be extremely difficult. Acknowledging that one may have racist tendencies or beliefs can be hard, especially in this day and age. Once newcomers and existing members can see some residual racism in themselves, they can begin addressing these behaviors and changing the way they think and feel. It’s important for members to start with themselves before trying to end racism anywhere else.

Not only can the meetings of Racists Anonymous help members see these issues in themselves, they can also start seeing how racism may play into their everyday lives, without even realizing it. In the long run, Racists Anonymous hopes to end racism for all future generations, as it has been an ongoing struggle for decades.

Frequently Asked Questions about Racists Anonymous

How do I find a meeting?

There are many different face-to-face meetings available for Racists Anonymous. The program uses Meetup, a web and mobile application, so individuals can view event and meeting lists that are still available. If there are no local meetings, members are encouraged to check out the recurring weekly Zoom meeting available, as well as check out any other scheduled meetings at any convenient time, which can be found here.

Do I have to call myself a racist?

At the start of many 12-step meetings, for all fellowships, members are encouraged to introduce themselves and identify that they have a problem or addiction. For example, “Hi, I’m Bonnie and I am an alcoholic,” may be the introduction of an Alcoholics Anonymous attendee. At Racists Anonymous, it is not a requirement to admit this in a meeting. Members are allowed to identify themselves with an “unsure yet” title, giving them the opportunity to decide whether or not they have a problem with racism.

Are there sponsors in the program?

Unlike other 12 step groups, Racists Anonymous does not require or designate sponsors in the program. Instead, building a strong support system is recommended, as well as collecting phone numbers from existing members to help with any problems or feelings that want to be discussed more personally. Individuals are encouraged to engage in one-on-one conversations with other members, to begin building trust and open communication within the program.

12 Steps of Racists Anonymous

Because Racists Anonymous follows the same 12-step recovery process, the format of the 12 steps is similar to other 12-step organizations.

1. I have come to admit that I am powerless over my addiction to racism in ways I am unable to recognize fully, let alone manage.

2. I believe that only a power greater than me can restore me in my humanness to the non-racist creature as God designed me to be.

3. For my own good and the good of future generations, I have decided to turn my will and my life over to the care of God insofar as I understand God.

4. I’ve made a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself concerning my bias toward others on the basis of race, class, gender, physical attributes, abilities, nationality, sexual orientation, and more.

5. I have admitted to God, to myself and to another human being the exact nature of my wrongful thoughts and actions.

6. I am entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. I humbly asked God to remove my shortcomings.

8. I’ve made a list of all persons I have harmed and am willing to make amends insofar as this is possible.

9. I will make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them, others, or create more harm than good.

10. I will continue taking personal inventory, and when I behave wrongly, I will admit it promptly.

11. I will continually seek through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with God insofar as I understand God, praying for knowledge of God’s Will and Wisdom for my life along with the power I need to carry that out.

12. As I have spiritual awakenings as the result of these steps, I will share this message with other race addicts as I seek to practice these principles in all my affairs.

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