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

By Heather McGhee. Embarks on a personal journey across the country from Maine to Mississippi to California, tallying what people lose when they buy into the zero-sum paradigm—the idea that progress for some 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 the U.S.—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.

It offers evidence the “Solidarity Dividend” — gains that come when people come together across race, to accomplish what they simply can’t do on their own. It looks at how America arrived here: divided and self-destructing, materially rich but spiritually starved and vastly unequal. The author uses economic and sociological research to paint a story of racism’s costs, but at the heart of the book are stories of people yearning to be part of a better America, including white supremacy’s collateral victims: white people themselves. Provides readers with a new vision for a future that life can be more than a zero-sum game. Read more.