CONCORD, N.C. -- Like any good anonymous meeting, it starts with bad coffee, a semi-circle of seats, and an invitation to share. But this Wednesday night's meeting isn't AA or NA or any of the other As you know, this is Racists Anonymous.
For the past month, Trinity United Church of Christ in Concord has been holding weekly support group meetings in its fellowship hall, and it's gaining traction.
"What Jesus said is, 'come see,'"says Reverend Nathan King.
Sick of the shootings and racial unrest, King says he wanted to do more than pray.
"It seemed like every week we were coming into worship and we were doing another prayer because someone had been killed in the street," King says.
Racists Anonymous was born.
"It's to deal with the racism within ourselves and to eliminate the racism within ourselves," King says.
The church mantra is to be on the frontline of social change. A sister church in California decided to start holding "Racists Anonymous" meetings and asked 20 other congregations to join them.
King's church answered the call.
Each week about a dozen people from all backgrounds attend the meetings. Most are church members, but recently, they've begun seeing attendees from the neighboring community.
"It's an anonymous meeting, so there's safety in that," he says.
King says the program, led by a licensed therapist, follows the traditional 12-step model and encourages people to say as much or as little as they choose.
When the pastor attended the first meeting, he admits even he had some difficulty speaking freely about the topic that is typically so taboo.
"It was difficult," King says. "From day to day, I find myself in that place of racism."
The reverend believes the way to change our country is to change our community, and that starts one racist at a time.
"It may not be the first thing you want to talk about the table at the Thanksgiving dinner with your family, but those conversations are going to be more common going forward."
Every Wednesday night, a circle of people share everyday experiences with racism, placing their problems in perspective.
"[The goal is to] change systematic racism in the United States of America," said Carol, aRacists Anonymous organizer.