You’ve likely heard of Alcoholics Anonymous, but a Summit County church has introduced a relatively new program for racists: Racists Anonymous.
“We all like to say that we’re not racist, that’s like the big thing right? I’m not racist, I’m not racist, but this sort of stands that on its head,” explains Ginger Anne Bakos, who is a member of The Church in Silver Lake United Church of Christ. "A lot of people sort of envision racism as what is and isn't polite to say in mixed company and this sort of says it's a little deeper than that."
The group of anywhere from 12-15 people meets every other Sunday around 11:15 a.m., after service. It’s open to anyone, not just church members. They talk about personal experiences with racism and how it has affected their lives.
Church member Zaina Agbo Brown was asked to join because they needed diversity.
I have two biracial children and I’m in an interracial relationship,” she says. “In the first session, I cried like a baby. I was able to share my story of how I went to a predominantly white school [and] I used to wake up every morning upset that I did not turn white overnight. I prayed for it because I wanted to fit in with everyone else.”
On Nov. 13 at 7 p.m., the church will host a panel discussion called “Interfaith Conflict and Certainty,” where scholars from various faiths, and someone who does not belong to a religion, will discuss “Why is there conflict among the faiths at all? How much of this conflict is politically driven? How do you deal with the aspects of your faith that promotes hate and violence?”
“I hope Racists Anonymous inspires the people who participate to go out into the world,” says Pastor Brad Jagger. “Matthew Chapter 7:3 says that don’t worry about the speck in someone else’s eye until you look at the log in your own. We’re taking that to heart with Racists Anonymous.”