*A church in Concord, North Carolina is hosting “Racists Anonymous” meetings every week as a way to deal with racism in its community.
The gatherings take place on Wednesdays at Trinity United Church of Christ in Concord from 6 to 7 p.m. and draw roughly a dozen or so people per week, according to Dr. Carol Stanley, the Racists Anonymous coordinator in Concord. She says participants have had a positive response thus far.
The 13 that came that first meeting ran the gamut in age and race, from African American to white, from Millennials to a couple in their 80s, from heterosexual to a gay married couple.
“It’s just obvious that racism is so powerful and alive,” Dr. Stanley told the Independent Tribune. “Mainly, [Racists Anonymous] is based on a really big idea, and that is we are wanting to move our civilization forward and not backward. We believe, the United Church of Christ believes that God is still speaking to us today, and God is calling us to move forward and learn how to love better. We’re not looking to change other people. We’re calling people together to become the change we want to see in the world.”
The Racist Anonymous premise follows Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs, with Stanley—congregation member and local psychologist—as leader.
Once gathered, members share stories and resources, such as an online test from Harvard University that uses people’s responses to words or pictures to determine the degree to which they see color in a prejudicial way. The group also hosts guest speakers to give information and fuel discussion.
“The hope is that people will be able to recognize the racism in their everyday lives, recognize their own participation in racism and will be able to heal that in themselves,” said the church’s pastor Rev. Nathan King. “What we hope to do is eliminate racism one person at a time, one day at a time. We recognize that racism is bigger than we are personally, and we believe that a higher power can restore our sanity. We believe we must be the change we want to see in the world.”
Watch a report on the Racist Anonymous meetings from WJZY: