What is Racial Sobriety®?

Racial Sobriety® is witnessing ourselves and others, that our thinking, feeling, and acting reflect our commitment to seeing each person as a member of the same human family. Racial Sobriety requires self-awareness that examines our prejudices with another’s racial caste in society. We achieve Racial Sobriety by ridding ourselves of the stinking thinking of racism, which frees us from racial dysfunction in our interactions with others in the human family.

Racial Sobriety from what?

Before we begin the journey to Racial Sobriety, we need an idea of where we are going. The destination of Racial Sobriety is a place within ourselves free from racial dysfunction. The term racial dysfunction describes the negative thinking, feeling, and acting on the false beliefs of racial prejudice. In other words, it is dysfunctional to see a person or group as anything other than human beings regardless of their race; whether race is a matter of color, culture, creed, or class.

The word dysfunction means an improper relationship. Racial dysfunction is an inappropriate relationship with members of the same human family. In this approach, we view racism as family dysfunction, with society being the family.

For example, persons who have a dysfunctional relationship with alcohol and drugs suffer from their improper relationship with these substances. Likewise, persons who have an inappropriate relationship with food, work, sex, or gambling need treatment programs for their dysfunctional lifestyle. In the same manner, an improper relationship with one’s race needs a treatment program. Racial Sobriety provides a healing process for coping with the social illness of racial dysfunction. The endless racial incidents, reported and unreported, in the American family demonstrate the pandemic scope of racial dysfunction. Our personal, racial dysfunction and others in our American family need an intervention on our shared family dysfunction of racism.

Racial Sobriety is a commitment to rid oneself of the stinking thinking, toxic feelings, and hurtful actions that are part of membership in American family life. A personal commitment to Racial Sobriety is a desire to be free of racial dysfunction to become a fully functioning human being. Racial Sobriety’s passion is an appetite for a racially sober culture where all people are recognized as members of the same human family.

How does One become racially sober?

Racial Sobriety is a healing journey that begins with stages of Recovery from Racisms®. These stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Each of the Stages of Recovery from Racisms focuses our attention on the negative behavior of racism. 

The focus of Racial Sobriety involves three stages beyond recovery: re-engagement, forgiveness, and witness.

Re-engagement is a stage in which a commitment is made to sober thinking and acting. Lifestyle changes begin within oneself and one’s relationship with others. Since Racial Sobriety affects every aspect of one’s life, each person will re-engage their lives from different perspectives. In this stage, self-awareness intervenes in thoughts and feelings to sustain Racial Sobriety.

To maintain Racial Sobriety amid a world of racial dysfunction, the exercise of forgiveness builds strength for the journey. This critical step is to forgive ourselves for going along to get along in a racialized culture. Most people live a life of accommodation to the white supremacy culture. As we forgive ourselves, we understand others and the power that racial dysfunction has over their lives. This sense of compassion assists us in forgiving others. Each act of forgiveness takes the toxic influence of anger, resentment, and hostility and transforms it into a new energy that supports our Racial Sobriety journey.

Becoming a witness is the ultimate goal of Racial Sobriety. In the act of witnessing, we pass on our Sobriety to others. The individual’s Racial Sobriety benefits their mental health, social enjoyment, and spiritual renewal. Everyone around us receives satisfaction from our Racial Sobriety, whether it is immediately recognized or not. Despite being found amid the racial dysfunction, Racially sober people witness, to themselves first, that they have the power to make a difference on their behalf and for the benefit of others. They do not feel powerless to change the world because they have begun to reconstruct their interaction with the world around them. The racially sober person becomes a collaborator for change.

Witnesses will also have a public face that demonstrates to others that racial dysfunction hurts everyone in the human family, not just the Nonwhites victimized by it. Racism takes something away from every person on the planet every day. Individually, through witnessing both personally and publicly, we come to sustain our Racial Sobriety and pass the benefits to a racially dysfunctional culture so much in need of it.

Racial Sobriety involves visiting the three stages of re-engagement, forgiveness, and witness often to grow in strength, wisdom, and freedom regarding the racial dysfunctions in our lives. As each person embraces Racial Sobriety, their presence is felt as a new member in the New Family Formation process. New Family Formation means that as each person assumes Racial Sobriety, they leave behind their racial caste allegiance to join the human family. Now, each person is recognized as my brother or sister.

What is the Institute for Recovery from Racisms?

The Institute for Recovery from Racisms® is an organization dedicated to promoting Racial Sobriety®. The Institute is made up of more than 200 Certified Facilitators in 20 states and three countries. The Institute’s services include workshops, facilitators’ training, and designing programs for various educational, civic, religious, and corporate organizations. (See Program Formats)

Fr. Clarence Williams, CPPS, Ph.D. is The founder and director of the Institute. He has been active in the community of race relations for more than forty years.