‘Hi, I’m Bonnie and I’m a Racist’: There’s a New 12-Step Program to Overcome White Privilege

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By Emily Zanotti | 4:20 pm, January 11, 2017

Donald Trump’s election has birthed an entirely new self-help industry, focusing on helping people—mostly Hillary Clinton supporters and other assorted progressives —come to grips with their own human failings.

There’s a Safety Pin Box, a monthly subscription service to help you learn to be a more tolerant, inclusive ally to struggling minorities and other oppressed peoples. And there’s “Oppression Cleanse,” a 21-day “diet” of reading and homework, designed to help you better understand the meaning of “intersectionality.”

And now, there’s “Racists Anonymous,” an Alcoholics Anonymous-type group for people struggling to come to grips with their own latent lack of “wokeness.”

The program is the brainchild of Reverend Ron Buford, a black pastor who worried that conversations about race left him angry and white participants guilty. He says he realized the need for the self-improvement program after witnessing Trump’s rise to power.

Racists Anonymous is a 12-step program, and meetings begin with everyone in the room announcing that they are, in fact a racist (step one is, of course, admitting you have a problem). The white people in the group discuss their experiences with their own racism, minority attendees discuss experiences encountering racism in society.

Buford’s groups tackle the 12 steps together. The goal is to try to help white people overcome their denial, and acknowledge their “white privilege”—even if it makes them uncomfortable.

“Once you accept the fact that we’re all racists, it’s just varying degrees,” Buford told Mother Jones. “In our culture, it’s impossible not to be a racist to some degree.” But Buford defines racism as any judgement about a person’s outward appearance, not necessarily a snap decision made based on someone’s perceived race.

So far, Buford’s program has limited availability – there’s just his one group and three others who use a kit he’s created based the Racists Anonymous core program. But rest assured, they are looking at swift expansion.

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