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Currently, the WA Program is being adapted from the original Alcoholics Anonymous program, begun in 1935. The AA program started with a few people in Akron, Ohio, and has grown to a fellowship of over two million and spans 180 countries worldwide.

We rest on the same foundations - known as the Three Legacies - of personal recovery, group unity, and community service. These legacies are expressed through The 12 Steps, The 12 Traditions, and the 12 Concepts of Service, respectively. We are finding that these foundations address the impact of whiteness on our personal, interpersonal, cultural, and institutional lives. They give us a blueprint for living our way into a new way of thinking about ourselves, our communities, and our organizations.

Our members come from a wide variety of other 12-step programs, or no group at all. We rely on our anti-racist and 12-Step literature to lead the way, and we weave this into our learning from our individual paths of anti-racist education and engagement. We are currently meeting regularly to create WA literature and writings for our new blog, Recovery Outloud.

Below you will find WA's 12 Steps in short-form and long-form, and our 12 Traditions. We invite you to reach out to us with any questions.

12-Step Recovery Program: News & Updates


Short-form, adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous’ Twelve Steps

  1. We admitted we were powerless over whiteness and racism (WAR)—that our lives were unmanageable.

  2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care and direction of a greater power as we understood it.

  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

  5. Admitted to a greater power, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

  6. Were entirely ready to have a greater power transform all these defaults of character.

  7. Humbly asked a greater power to transform our shortcomings.

  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with a greater power as we understood it, praying only for the knowledge of a greater power's vision for us and the willingness to carry that out.

  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles with sustainability in all our affairs.

12-Step Recovery Program: Text



Despite the group’s exclusive focus on recovery from internalized white racial dominance, this work promises greater authenticity as a whole person, a greater capacity for emotional intimacy with others, greater joy, and greater liberation from oppressive thinking and behavior. The 12 Steps are spiritual principles to live by and can be applied to nearly any challenging pattern of behavior or situation that we find daunting. They are expressions of deep healing wisdom that transcend context and engage the universal human need for reflection, forgiveness, and re-orientation to our deepest values. We have chosen to use them as tools for engaging whiteness and internalized dominance patterns because they promise to affirm the inherent worthiness of all people while calling people to deep reflection on the beliefs and behaviors that deny this promise.

Building a Foundation

"The first three steps suggest that our human resources, such as intelligence, knowledge, strength, and even hope, are not enough to solve our problems. As others have done, we need to accept the help of a power greater than ourselves to guide our thoughts and actions. These three steps show us how to bring that power into our lives in an active, workable partnership.” (Al-anon’s 12 Steps & 12 Traditions, 1987). In WA, we define a power greater than ourselves to be anything you refer to for greater/deeper/collective wisdom and/or how you personally create meaning. For some, this may be defined as greater power, higher self, all, flow, order, the web of life, group conscience, collective wisdom, reason, love, nature, awareness, the universe, the force, deeper intelligence, spirit, creator, great mother, heavenly father, god, goddess; it may be a religious deity, or something, anything else. The point is to develop a relationship with something that is entirely personal to you and will help you move beyond your ego's understanding of yourself and the world.

Step One - We admitted to the pervasive myth of white superiority culture, power, and privilege--or whiteness---in our institutions, social systems, and our personal lives. We realized that white supremacy lives in our bodies and that we have no intellectual power over our racial biases (unconscious beliefs, fears, and triggers) and the reactions they prompt in us are unmanageable. (Principles: EMOTIONAL HONESTY & SURRENDER)

Step Two - We came to trust in a wisdom and power beyond our socialization in whiteness; we now understand that we did not learn this alone and cannot unlearn it alone. Through connecting with a loving community of others also doing this work, we now trust that we can learn to live compassionately in reality, still deeply impacted by the patterns of whiteness, and experience greater sanity, joy, and peace. (Principle: HOPE)

Step Three - We made a decision to lean on and engage with a greater power, as we defined it, and communities committed to helping each other do the work of waking up and staying awake. (Principles: TRUST & COMMITMENT)

Taking Action

“The self-analysis required in a fearless moral inventory is an essential step toward recognizing our responsibilities and finding appropriate, healthful release from our physical, emotional and spiritual experiences.” (Al-Anon's Paths to Recovery, 1997, p. 39.) 

Step Four - We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of our thoughts and behavior, namely of the specific coping mechanisms we have developed in relationship to our racial privilege and the dominant cultural norms we have internalized. We looked into our own embodiment of whiteness. We looked at both our assets and liabilities in our healing process. (Principles: COURAGE & DILIGENCE)

Step Five - We let go of our isolation and shared this inventory with a trusted someone—a loving witness who provided perspective on our spiritual journey; one who could appreciate what we were doing and how we were growing; someone who helped us to see ourselves as we really were. (Principles: TRUTH & INTEGRITY)

Step Six - We became entirely ready to let go of our default coping mechanisms and committed to facing reality, trusting that we could let go of the will of our ego and allow a greater and deeper power to lead us on our collective healing journey. (Principles: WILLINGNESS & LETTING GO)

Step Seven - We humbly asked for help from a power beyond ourselves to remove the obstacles inhibiting our spiritual growth and our connection with all of humanity. (Principle: HUMILITY)

Step Eight - We made a list of all the ways that we have caused harm in cross-racial relationships and within the context of white-bodied solidarity. We identified the people, places, and things that were impacted by our choices, including ourselves, and became willing to make amends to them all. (Principles: WILLINGNESS & AMENDS)

Step Nine - We made direct and indirect amends to such people, places, and things, whenever possible, except when to do so would cause further harm. We created a plan for a holistic practice of living amends to ourselves and other people, places, and things. (Principle: HEALING JUSTICE)

Maintaining Momentum

“Step Ten is the beginning of what some members refer to as the maintenance steps. Others call them the continuous-growth Steps. Step Ten helps us to keep the principles and tools of the previous Steps working in our daily lives.” (Al-Anon's Paths to Recovery, p. 102)

Step Ten - We continued to invest in our racial education and to take a regular personal moral inventory. When we were wrong, we promptly admitted it, naming our racist or oppressive behavior without defending ourselves or dismissing the impact of such behavior on our community and ourselves. (Principle: PERSEVERANCE)

Step Eleven - Through daily practice, we sought to improve our conscious contact with ourselves (heart, mind, and body), with other beings, as well as a wisdom and power beyond our own egoic understanding. We focused our intentions on staying embodied and awake, emotionally connected, and compassionate. We continued to develop cross-racial relationships with individuals and groups. (Principle: SPIRITUAL PRACTICE)

Step Twelve - Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles with sustainability in all of our affairs. (Principles: SERVICE & LEADERSHIP)

12-Step Recovery Program: Text


“Coming from homes affected by [internalized whiteness], many of us have a great fear of conflict. Practicing the Traditions among ourselves helps us to learn how to work through disagreements to a mutually satisfying solution as well as to stay out of situations that are not our business. Conflict is minimized when we focus on our common problems and solutions and avoid divisive struggles over [other] issues. This reinforces our primary purpose and gives us time to take care of ourselves.” (adapted from Paths to Recovery: Al-Anon’s Steps, Traditions, and Concepts, 1997, p. 222)

In WA, we have found the Traditions to be an antidote to the norms of whiteness culture. 

  1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon group unity.

  2. For our group purpose, there is but one ultimate authority—a loving greater power as expressed by our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants, they do not govern.

  3. Beneficiaries of whiteness, when gathered together for mutual aid,  may call themselves a Whiteness Anonymous group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation. The only requirement for group membership is a desire to stop harmful racist behavior and thinking.

  4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or WA as a whole.

  5. Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to persons wanting to stop racist behavior and thinking. We do this by practicing the Twelve Steps ourselves and by encouraging and understanding the still-suffering racist, whether they are in recovery or not.

  6. A group ought never endorse, finance, or lend their name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.

  7. Every group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.

  8. Whiteness Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.

  9. WA as such ought never be organized, but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.

  10. Whiteness Anonymous has no opinion on any issue except for the dismantling of racist systems of thought and behavior.

  11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we must always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, films, TV, and the Internet.

  12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

12-Step Recovery Program: Text
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