The Sum of Us

By Heather McGhee,

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

Book description

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD • 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.


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Why read it?

3 authors picked The Sum of Us as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

The Sum of Us lays out clearly why antiracism is helpful to everyone. We are all victims in a web of racism that divides us and makes for a weaker social fabric. McGee uses both data and stories to explain why racism hurts everyone. She tells stories with data and personal experiences. One story centers on repeated draining of municipal pools in the 1960s because whites did not want to share pools with African Americans. The result, of course, is that nobody now gets to go for a swim on a hot day. Instead of seeing life as a “zero…

From Alan's list on what race is (and is not).

The Sum of Us accomplishes two important things: it illustrates the power of public policy to perpetuate racism and racial inequality and demonstrates the negative impact of such policies on white people as well as Black and other people of color. Racism hurts all of us in tangible and measurable ways. The Sum of Us makes those costs abundantly clear, but also offers much-needed hope and action steps for healing our collective wounds. I love Heather McGhee’s concept of the “solidarity dividend”. It reminds me that change is possible!

From Beverly's list on why racism persists.

While this isn’t a light read, this is an excellent book for those who want to be better informed in order to have conversations with people who don’t quite get why racism is so bad for us as a country - including how it is bad for White people. The economist author opens with a really tangible example of community pools, which in some cities - in the face of integration to allow Black and White neighbors to swim together - were closed down and paved over so that no one could swim. This act of racism left entire communities…

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