“Hello my name is… and I’m a racist.”

Trinity United Church of Christ in Concord, North Carolina holds Racist Anonymous meetings every Wednesday, where attendees can become acquainted with the 12-step recovery program the church has implemented. Although the meetings seem a bit strange, the goal is for individuals to recognize their internal racism, and work to improve themselves.

The aim of the meetings is also to make a statement that speaks loud to all Americans: everyone is a little bit racist sometimes. The pastor of the church, Ron Buford, began his email invitations to the meetings with, “Pastor Ron is a racist and thinks you’re a racist too.” While this statement may make many uncomfortable, it creates a platform where people can feel more comfortable coming to terms with their racism, and can feel inspired to improve themselves.

The truth is, racism is an inherent problem within both the American and Canadian society. With the rising awareness of systemic racism in relation to events such as the excessive force used by police against African Americans and the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women, racism is gaining awareness, and the general public is speaking out against racism through institutions. However, individuals do not address the racism within themselves nearly as much. When we use gender binary pronouns, for example, most will correct themselves if they make a mistake, as it is common decency to do so. So why isn’t it the same with racism?

Racism is a belief. It is the belief that one race is superior to another, and while it may come with actions associated with segregation, it also may not. It is possible to be a racist and not do anything about it, and it is easy to say that individuals who do not act on their racism do not need to do anything abut it, as long as they are not hurting anyone. It may seem like the meetings are little over the top — an action that is unnecessary in our society. Racist Anonymous meetings do not really have an impact on the society at all, so really, what’s the point?

Although it may seem like these meetings won’t do much for the world or the society, by having a Racists Anonymous, the individuals who participate are doing something for themselves, so that they can change themselves for the better. Alcoholics Anonymous does not exist for the betterment of the society, but for the betterment of the individual. The members of Racists Anonymous would not have approached the church for help if they did not want to dispel their ignorance and create internal change. They may not be changing the world, or the society, but this is a change that they want to make in a way that works for them, and although it may not have a huge impact on our generation, it will have an impact on future generations, such as the children of the individuals that attend these meetings. The first step to fixing a problem is admitting you have one, something that is invited in the Racist Anonymous meetings.

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