Board chair, Color of Change, and author, "The Sum of Us"
U.S. Senator from Massachusetts
The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together
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.
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?
Ms. McGhee embarks on a deeply personal journey across the country from Mississippi to California to Maine, 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 shots 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, Ms. 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: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together is Ms. McGhee’s brilliant analysis of how we arrived here: divided and self-destructing, materially rich but spiritually starved and vastly unequal. She 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 zero-sum.
Ms. McGhee chairs the board of Color of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. She is the past president and now Trustee Emeritus of the inequality-focused think tank Demos. She has drafted legislation, testified before Congress, and contributed regularly to news shows including NBC’s Meet the Press. Ms. McGhee holds a BA in American studies from Yale University and a JD from the University of California at Berkeley School of Law.
Ms. McGhee will be in conversation with U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, who in 2012 became the first woman from Massachusetts elected to the United States Senate and was re-elected in 2018. Sen. Warren grew up on the ragged edge of the middle class in Oklahoma and became a teacher, a law professor, and a United States Senator because America invested in kids like her.
This event suitable for youth 12+.
REGISTRATION REQUIRED for all FAN events. This event will be recorded and available later on our website and YouTube channel.
BONUS BOOK GIVEAWAY! We are giving away 500 copies of The Sum of Us to guests randomly selected from the Zoom attendance report. All details on the webinar registration page.
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