Heather McGhee's "The Sum of Us": Gauging The Social Costs of Racism
(This conversation was originally aired on March 22, 2021)
Welcome to an encore edition of Midday. Tom's guest today has written a thoughtful and insightful book on the subject of racial inequality. Heather McGhee is the former head of the think tank, Demos, an organization that focuses on inequality. She is now the Chair of the board of Color of Change, an on-line racial justice advocacy group with 7 million members.
Her book is called The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together. McGhee’s reporting is assiduous and compassionate. She explores the history and lunacy of policies and norms that proliferate belief in a racial hierarchy.
This insidious allegiance to racial hierarchy has dominated the United States since its founding. No aspect of American life is spared, and no issue has been unaffected. McGhee makes the case that White unwillingness to align with Black people in common cause has not only been crushing for African Americans, but for millions of White people struggling for opportunity as well.
She writes, “America’s racial inequality is the template that sets up a scaffolding of hierarchy that increasingly few people, of any race, can climb.” The Sum of Us also makes the case that the reasons for racial panic among White people are actually our biggest strategic assets, and our country’s greatest salvation.
McGhee observes that we have reached the productive and moral limit of the zero-sum economic model. And she argues that the social rewards of an equality that is true and sustainable are plentiful. She calls these rewards the Solidarity Dividend.
Our program was pre-recorded, so we aren’t taking any new listener calls or on-line comments.
Heather McGhee joined us on Zoom.