Racism and Recovery
by Carl Josehart
“Justice is indivisible. You can’t decide who gets civil rights and who doesn’t.” – Angela Davis
It’s been over 150 years since the passage of the 13th Amendment officially putting an end to slavery in the United States but as recent events have shown us discrimination persists. Ending racial discrimination is not a simple process and I would suggest that it starts within each one of us. We cannot be effective agents of change until we have examined our hearts and begun our own journey. “Cure” may not be possible but recovery is; and recovery is a process. I can’t control what others do but I can start with me.
The process of recovery is not easy, it is always intentional (not accidental) and it is a lifelong commitment to living a healthy, more informed life. Just like our friends recovering from addiction have learned, admitting we have a problem is the first step to recovery.
So I am making a commitment to my own recovery and invite you to join me on the journey as well. Based on the work of AA perhaps we can adopt a 12 step process to healing and living a life based on respect and a commitment to acceptance.
- Let us start by admitting that we have allowed racism to have power over our lives and, because of that, our lives, and the lives of others have been diminished and we have caused harm and hurt.
- Help us to come to the understanding that a Power greater than ourselves calls us to confront this part of ourselves and compels us to change.
- Empower us make a decision to commit ourselves to creating safe and accepting communities for all.
- Strengthen us so that we can make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Humble us so that we can admit to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Inspire us to ready ourselves to work actively to remedy these defects of character.
- Open our hearts to allow us to humbly ask for help to address our shortcomings.
- Guide us to honestly make a list of all persons we have harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all.
- Walk with us so that we have the courage to make direct amends to those people wherever possible and to work to prevent future harm to others by speaking up and contributing time, effort, resources and our voice to change the systems that perpetuate racism.
- Grant us the perseverance to continue to take a personal inventory and when we discover bias promptly admit it, challenge it and change it.
- Commit us to seek through prayer, reflection, meditation, music and nature to improve our conscious contact with our larger community, neighborhood, nation and world and seek only to understand and heal not conquer and subdue.
- Create space within us for a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps and help us by the example of our lives to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
“Racism oppresses its victims, but also binds the oppressors, who sear their consciences with more and more lies until they become prisoners of those lies. They cannot face the truth of human equality because it reveals the horror of the injustices they commit.” – Alveda King