Last Updated on October 16, 2020
A for-credit course at the University of Minnesota titled, “Recovery from White Conditioning,” set-up like a 12 step program made famous by Alcoholics Anonymous, is focused on “helping people recover from their Whiteness.”
The university’s School of Social Work hosted the virtual lecture to teach White people about their relationship with White supremacy. The lecture suggests this relationship can be countered by using a 12-step program.
The two-hour lecture is hosted by the school’s Center for Practice Transformation and featured “therapist” Cristina Combs, the author of the 12-step program.
Combs, a University of Minnesota alumnus, created the 12-step recovery from Whiteness program, “after years of struggling to navigate the role and presence of whiteness in her personal, academic, and professional journeys.”
“I also want to hold that alongside the tension that, in this model, we are, in fact, centering Whiteness, but we are centering it differently: to expose it, study its patterns, and to transform its violent legacy,” she says in the lecture.
Setting up the meat of her lecture, Combs prefaced it by quoting feminist author Bell Hooks, saying “‘imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy’ [is] the power structure underlying the social order” [but] “it is sometimes necessary to focus singularly on race.”
Included in the 12-steps are the headings:
- “We admitted that we had been socially conditioned by the ideology of white supremacy.”
- “We came to believe that we could embrace our ignorance as an invitation to learn.”
- “We develop support systems to keep us engaged in this work.”
- “We journeyed boldly inward, exploring and acknowledging ways in which white supremacist teachings have been integrated into our minds and spirits.”
- “We confessed our mistakes and failings to ourselves and others.”
- We were entirely ready to deconstruct previous ways of knowing, as they have been developed through the lens of white supremacy.”
- We humbly explored new ways of understanding…proactively seeking out new learning and reconstructing a more inclusive sense of reality.”
- “We committed ourselves to ongoing study of our racial biases, conscious or unconscious, and our maladaptive patterns of white supremacist thinking.”
- “We develop strategies to counteract our racial biases.”
- “We embraced the responsibility of focusing on our impact, more than our intentions, in interactions with people of color.”
- “We engage in daily practices of self-reflection.”
- “We committed ourselves to sharing this message with our white brothers, sisters, and siblings…in order to build a supportive recovery community and to encourage personal accountability within our culture.”
Speaking to what a “Recovery from White Conditioning” post 12-step meeting would look like, Combs said it would include reading about “a white anti-racist, then discuss the particular step they are focusing on in that meeting.”