The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - One of today's most insightful and influential thinkers offers a powerful exploration of inequality and the lesson that generations of Americans have failed to learn: Racism has a cost for everyone--not just for people of color.

"This is the book I've been waiting for."--Ibram X. Kendi, #1 New York Times bestselling author of How to Be an Antiracist

Heather McGhee's specialty is the American economy--and the mystery of why it so often fails the American public. From the financial crisis to rising student debt to collapsing public infrastructure, she found a common root problem: racism. But not just in the most obvious indignities for people of color. Racism has costs for white people, too. It is the common denominator of our most vexing public problems, the core dysfunction of our democracy and constitutive of the spiritual and moral crises that grip us all. But how did this happen? And is there a way out?

McGhee embarks on a deeply personal journey across the country from Maine to Mississippi to California, tallying what we lose when we buy into the zero-sum paradigm--the idea that progress for some of us must come at the expense of others. Along the way, she meets white people who confide in her about losing their homes, their dreams, and their shot at better jobs to the toxic mix of American racism and greed. This is the story of how public goods in this country--from parks and pools to functioning schools--have become private luxuries; of how unions collapsed, wages stagnated, and inequality increased; and of how this country, unique among the world's advanced economies, has thwarted universal healthcare.

But in unlikely places of worship and work, McGhee finds proof of what she calls the Solidarity Dividend: gains that come when people come together across race, to accomplish what we simply can't do on our own.

The Sum of Us is a brilliant analysis of how we arrived here: divided and self-destructing, materially rich but spiritually starved and vastly unequal. McGhee marshals economic and sociological research to paint an irrefutable story of racism's costs, but at the heart of the book are the humble stories of people yearning to be part of a better America, including white supremacy's collateral victims: white people themselves. With startling empathy, this heartfelt message from a Black woman to a multiracial America leaves us with a new vision for a future in which we finally realize that life can be more than a zero-sum game.

Title:The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780525509561
Format Type:

    The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together Reviews

  • Liz

    The Sum of Us tackles the concept of racial zero sum - why so many whites believe that bettering the lives of racial minorities comes at their expense. In truth, it’s a concept usually put forth by ...

  • Raymond

    In the January/February 2009 issue of The Atlantic, the writer Hua Hsu wrote an article titled “The End of White America?”. It was displayed on the cover of the magazine beside a large picture of ...

  • Cheri

    ’The white citizens burned the edifice of their own government rather than submit to a multiracial democracy.' The above quote references an election in 1872, but is, perhaps, more relevant today.I ...

  • Kimba Tichenor

    A thought-provoking read that will make you rethink everything that you thought you knew about racism.Heather McGhee, political commentator and former President of Demos (a progressive think tank) has...

  • Michael Perkins

    The author's thesis is: “It is progressive economic conventional wisdom that racism accelerates inequality for communities of color, but what if racism is actually driving inequality for everyone?...

  • Dawn Michelle

    This is a book that will quickly become a "must-read" book as it is filled with some amazing information about the "zero-sum" phenomenon and takes a deep look at why white people continue to sabotage ...

  • Melissa

    I predict this will be considered an Important or Necessary Read of 2021. It is EXCELLENT and an easily accessible read. The Sum of Us lays out why life is not a zero-sum game, and therefore racism mu...

  • Mara

    The Sum Of US by Heather McGhee is truly one of the best books I have read on racism and social justice in America. McGhee does a phenomenal job synthesizing how history, public policies, and perspect...

  • Lorilin

    This book. Wow. THE SUM OF US.It took me a bit to get through it, because it was so descriptive, well-researched, and, frankly, depressing. Heather McGhee covers topics like housing, segregation, labo...

  • Kimberly

    "The Sum of Us" by Heather McGhee is a very important book that should be read by all Americans. It is one of the most powerful and insightful books I have read in a very long time. Filled with inform...