The University of Minnesota hosted a webinar series that included a 12-step program akin to Alcoholics Anonymous to teach white people how to “recover and reclaim our full humanity.”
“Recovery from White Conditioning” is a two hour lecture “rooted in love and accountability,” that teaches white people to “transform violent legacies of whiteness into healthier, white, anti-racist community,” by utilizing a 12-step recovery model based on the Alcoholics Anonymous program.
The lecture was created by 2008 alumnus Christina Combs, a therapist who developed the model “after years of struggling to navigate the role and presence of whiteness in her personal, academic, and professional journeys.”
Combs began her lecture by acknowledging George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, along with the Dakota Tribe, which previously settled on the land the university was built on. Her goal for the lecture: “decentering whiteness.”
When she asked the audience their definition of white supremacy, Combs played slides of the Ku Klux Klan and the movie poster for American History X, before displaying a slide with her own likeness as “the face of White Supremacy.”
She said that accepting her “connection to white supremacy has been a freedom of sorts to show up in better alignment with my values and do the work for the rest of my life.”
Combs then launched into the 12-step model, which is a near parody of the AA program, swapping out alcohol and any talk of God, and with terms like “the lens of white supremacy” and “inclusive sense of reality.”
The first step of the Alcoholics Anonymous program is “we admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.” In Comb’s model, step one is admitting “that we had been socially conditioned by the ideology of white supremacy.”
Other gems include step four, boldly exploring how “white supremacist teachings have been integrated” into the minds and spirits of Caucasians,” deconstructing “ways of knowing” developed by “the lens of white supremacy” in step six, and step ten’s notion to focus on the impact, rather than intention of “interactions with people of color.”
The lecture is the first of a three part series: “Deconstructing & Decentralizing White-ness in Practice,” presented by the university’s School of Social Work and Continuing Education Series.
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