12-STEP RECOVERY PROGRAM
Currently, the WA Program is being adapted from the original Alcoholics Anonymous program, begun in 1935. The AA program started with two 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, respectively. We are finding that these foundations address the impact of white supremacy on our personal, interpersonal, 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.
Below you will find WA's 12 Steps in short-form, 12 Steps in long-form, and our 12 Traditions. We invite you to reach out to us with any questions.
WA'S 12 STEPS
Short-form, adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous’ Twelve Steps
We admitted we were powerless over whiteness—that our lives had become unmanageable.
Came to believe that a greater wisdom could restore us to sanity.
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care and direction of a greater wisdom as we understood it.
Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Admitted to our greater wisdom, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Were entirely ready to have our greater wisdom transform all these defaults of character.
Humbly asked our greater wisdom to transform our shortcomings.
Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with a greater wisdom as we understood it, praying only for the knowledge of our greater wisdom’s vision for us and the willingness to carry that out.
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.
WA'S 12 STEPS
Despite the group’s exclusive focus on recovery from white racial superiority, 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 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 white racial superiority 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 higher power, higher self, all, flow, order, the web of life, group conscience, collective wisdom, reason, love, nature, awareness, the universe, the force, 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 reality 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 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 wisdom, as we defined it, and a community committed to helping each other do the work of waking up and staying awake. (Principles: TRUST & COMMITMENT)
“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.” (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 wisdom to lead us on our collective healing journey. (Principles: WILLINGNESS & LETTING GO)
Step Seven - We humbly asked for help from a wisdom 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 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 practice of living amends to ourselves and other people, places, and things. (Principle: HEALING JUSTICE)
“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.” (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 a daily practice, we sought to improve our conscious contact with ourselves (heart, mind, and body), with other beings, as well as a wisdom 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)
WA'S 12 TRADITIONS
“Coming from homes affected by [internalized white supremacy], 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 outside 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 white supremacy cultural norms.
Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon group unity. (UNITY)
For our group purpose, there is but one ultimate authority—a loving wisdom as expressed by our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern. (TRUST IN GROUP CONSCIENCE)
The only requirement for group membership is a desire to stop harmful racist behavior and thinking. (BELONGING)
Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups as a whole. (AUTONOMY)
Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to persons wanting to change their racist behavior and thinking. (PURPOSE)
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. (NON-AFFILIATION)
Every group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions. (SELF-SUPPORTING)
Whiteness Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers. (NON-PROFESSIONAL)
W.A. as such ought never be organized but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve. (SPIRIT OF SERVICE)
Whiteness Anonymous, as an organization, has no opinion on outside issues except for the dismantling of racist systems of thought and behavior. (STAYING FOCUSED)
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. This work is personal, and must not be used to demonstrate the “wokeness” of participants or organizations that host meetings. (ATTRACTION, NOT PROMOTION)
Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities. (SPIRITUAL AWARENESS)