Racism and Addiction

I am participating in three online groups that are discussing books that address racism. In one group sponsored by Highlands Presbyterian Church in Cheyenne, we are concluding the last week on Wednesday that has met the last three months discussing An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz as well as sharing our personal knowledge. Another group meets this Monday where I am co-facilitating the first of three discussions of, I’m Black, I’m Christian, I’m Methodist edited by Rudy Rasmus that shares ten stories about personal struggles with racism within my denomination. That is sponsored by the Mountain Sky Conference of the United Methodist Church. The third book group is sponsored by the Black Studies Department of the University of Wyoming that is meeting weekly through July and the first week of August. That book is How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.

I have not stopped to count the number of books I have read or started over the last few months that address racism. I confess, that as I read each one, I hope to find the answer to what we white people can do to end racism and its negative impacts. The books are invaluable. I have no regrets. I have started the journey of learning, self-reflection, and action. But I get frustrated because ignorance, denial, and fragility keep getting in the way and I get discouraged thinking there is no way out.

But that aha moment came to me recently that not until we white people admit to racism and that we have a lifelong road to recovery, we will stay stuck. We are addicted to a social construct manufactured to make us come out on top.

All addictions have a payoff that keeps us addicted. What is the payoff or high from this addiction to whiteness that steers us into denial, promoting assimilation (as in, “Kill the Indian to save the man”), and our drive to fix or to help the other, whether the Latinx, the Blacks, or the Native Americans instead of ourselves? Part of the payoff are the benefits of white privilege. Part of the high comes from feeling in control and superior. But I suspect it is deeper than that. What do you think?

In AA and other recovery groups, a first step is admitting that we are powerless over our addiction and that our lives have become unmanageable trying to protect our addiction. I suspect this is true for the addiction to racism and to whiteness (not that we are born white, which cannot be changed, but that we are living a lie of whiteness).


Switching gears, thanks so much to all who are stepping up to help one way or another with our rummage sale on July 31st, 8 am to 1 pm for Justice for Andy. Bring your donated items to the Riverton United Methodist Church on Friday, July 30th between 9 am and noon or make other arrangements with me. I still need more volunteers both the 30th and the 31st. Also, thanks to those helping to raise funds in other ways.

Remember the 7th Annual Riverton Peace March this Saturday, 10 am beginning across from the Center of Hope to the City Park. Bring your signs, but mostly bring yourselves.

Remember the People’s Theater Inquest at The Little Theater at CWC on Friday, August 13, 7 pm. The doors will open at 6:30 pm.

Watch for more actions and events in the making with some being online.

Fear not. Be bold. Build relationships. Be humble. Do justice.


Chesie Lee


You can support the Riverton Peace Mission at the website www.rivertonpeacemission.org or mail checks to PO Box 255, Riverton, WY 82501.