Color Me Sober: Can AA evolve to include its most marginalized members?

Group meeting. Photo by Shutterstock.

Journalist and person in recovery, Shayla Martin, speaks to various AA members about the growing need for recovery meetings specifically catered to people of color. She speaks with L*, a Black woman in recovery in Baltimore who shares her experience with attempting to form a people of color AA meeting in 2019 after noticing that shares from women, people of color and members of the LGBT community were censored in meetings by other AA members who deemed their shares “too political”. 

All guests reference the 10th tradition of AA (which states: Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy), a tool often used by AA members to prevent others from sharing about topics in meetings considered to be “outside issues”. Shayla and her guests, L*, S* and K* discuss which “outside issues'' are most often silenced, and how the COVID-19 pandemic became an asset as virtual POC recovery meetings popped up all over the world. In these meetings, members are welcome to discuss the issues that keep them emotionally sober without the threat of being shamed or silenced, but as the world slowly reopens, people of color in AA are starting to wonder if their virtual safe space will translate to the real world.

Virtual meeting. Photo by Shutterstock.

AA of course, is not the only the way to get sober and pursue recovery. Below is a list of recovery resources, many specifically for people of color.

*Names removed to protect anonymity