According to an interview he did with Mother Jones magazine, the pastor at the United Church of Christ in Sunnyvale, California, the Reverend Ron Buford, “was fed up with attending race talks where either he left feeling angry or white attendees left feeling guilty.” He felt there had to be a better way of discussing race in America.
So, based on the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) model, where groups of people meet to discuss issues of chemical dependency, Rev. Buford (who is black) started Racists Anonymous, a group where attendees who want to better understand their own prejudices and take part in productive conversations about race can meet. While such conversations certainly aren’t new on the American landscape, what is somewhat new is the idea of treating racism like a disease, one that all of us suffer from to one extent or another, and something that can be cured.
“Using AA as a model,” the Mother Jones article stated, “Rev. Buford began hosting meetings in January of 2017, and before long he was sharing his program with friends at other churches. To date, he says, more than 90 congregations in four countries have requested the kit he’s put together, and at least six have established their own programs.”
The key to success for such a program, of course, is to avoid the anger or guilt traps, which can be difficult to navigate around, even for people of good will and intentions. However, the tremendous uptick of hatred in this country — as demonstrated by the march of neo-Nazis in Charlottesville last year and propagated by the current occupant of the White House — has some folks scrambling to find ways to push back against bigotry in all of its guises.
Perhaps a more comprehensive program could be entitled “Haters Anonymous,” a group that would include folks attempting to come to terms with their ill feelings toward “the other,” as personified by immigrants, gays or anyone else that Trump and his followers are attempting to marginalize by characterizing them as not “true” Americans.
Members could come together and admit that their minds have been poisoned by the incessant drumbeat of subversive messaging that is foisted upon all of us on a regular basis for the purpose of maintaining the hegemony of a white male plutocracy in this country. Then, attempts to devise antidotes to the mental diseases they have been infected with can be explored, because, as we know, nothing can be changed until it’s faced.
Obviously, the folks most in need of such a support group are the least likely to attend. Many racists and haters will go to their graves unrepentant because in order for a person to outgrow the simple-minded teachings they were raised to believe, a certain level of intelligence has to be present or attained. And again obviously, some folks simply are too dim-witted to move beyond what they were taught as children. It’s amazing that some of these ignoramuses don’t still believe in the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. I absolutely know that some of these clucks will believe to their dying day that the moon landing was staged somewhere in New Mexico.
This is where Trump and his minions have the advantage: They’ve cornered the market on stupid people. Indeed they have a complete lock on that population. What’s keeping many progressives up nights is the reality that there are just so damn many of them out there — so many more than any of us could have imagined.
Nonetheless, we can’t give up and abdicate the playing field to the diminished capacity opposition; so if someone wanted to start a Racists Anonymous group here in Greater Cleveland I’d be among the first to join.