Heather McGhee’s

The Sum of Us

Heather McGhee’s

The Sum of Us

Upcoming Events

The Book

The Sum of Us


"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 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 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 zero-sum.

Shareable Social Media

Book Trailer

About

Heather designs and promotes solutions to inequality in America.

About Heather

Heather designs and promotes solutions to inequality in America.

Heather designs and promotes solutions to inequality in America. Her new book, The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together is now available from One World, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Her 2020 TED talk, “Racism Has a Cost for Everyone” reached 1 million views in just two months online. In the coming year, she will launch an original podcast on how to create cross-racial solidarity in challenging times.

Heather has testified in Congress, drafted legislation, and developed strategies for organizations and campaigns that won changes to improve the lives of millions. For nearly two decades, she helped build the non-partisan "think and do" tank Demos, serving four years as president. Through her regular media appearances, she elevates the concerns of working families on programs including NBC’s “Meet the Press”.

She is the chair of the board of Color of Change, the country’s largest online racial justice organization, and volunteers for numerous other boards in the fields of philanthropy and social justice. Heather graduated from Yale University and the University of California Berkeley School of Law, and has honorary degrees from Muhlenberg College and Niagara University. She lives in Brooklyn with her urbanist husband, a twenty year-old cat and a chatty toddler.

Moments

Moments

Play Video
Play Video

coming soon

Heather is developing two original podcasts to launch later in 2020. Sign up to be the first to have a chance to subscribe!

Podcast Appearances

Marketplace

Public pools used to be everywhere in America. Then racism shut them down.

Marketplace

Public pools used to be everywhere in America. Then racism shut them down.

New York 1 with Errol Louis

Heather McGhee - The High Cost of Racism for America

New York 1 with Errol Louis

Heather McGhee - The High Cost of Racism for America

NPR Fresh Air

“Sum of Us” Examines the Hidden Cost of Racism - for Everyone

NPR Fresh Air

“Sum of Us” Examines the Hidden Cost of Racism - for Everyone

The Ezra Klein Show

What Drained Pool Politics Costs America (Podcast)

The Ezra Klein Show

What Drained Pool Politics Costs America (Podcast)

Moyers on Democracy Podcast

Heather McGhee: How Racism Has a Cost for Everyone

Moyers on Democracy Podcast

Heather McGhee: How Racism Has a Cost for Everyone

Call Your Girlfriend

Heather McGhee: "What Now?"

Call Your Girlfriend

Heather McGhee: "What Now?"

All Ears with Abigail Disney

Heather McGhee: The Hierarchy of Human Value

All Ears with Abigail Disney

Heather McGhee: The Hierarchy of Human Value

The Next Move Hosted by George Goehl

Government For All Of Us with Heather McGhee

The Next Move Hosted by George Goehl

Government For All Of Us with Heather McGhee

Pod Save America

Juneteenth

Pod Save America

Juneteenth

Armchair Expert with Dax Shepherd

Heather McGhee

Armchair Expert with Dax Shepherd

Heather McGhee

Sojourners - The Soul of The Nation With Jim Wallis

Why Racism Still Makes Sense to White People

Sojourners - The Soul of The Nation With Jim Wallis

Why Racism Still Makes Sense to White People

Writing & Research

Movement-Builders

Heather serves with key organizations building a movement for equality, chief among them Color Of Change and Demos.

color of change

Heather is the Board Chair for Color Of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization helping people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us.

Heather is the past president and now Trustee Emeritus at Demos. Demos is a dynamic “think-and-do” tank that powers the movement for a just, inclusive, multiracial democracy. Through cutting-edge policy research, inspiring litigation and deep relationships with grassroots organizations, Demos champions solutions that will create a democracy and economy rooted in racial equity.

Stay in touch!

Sign up for Heather’s monthly The Sum of Us newsletter

Stay In Touch