The Sum of Us

Heather McGhee

The Sum of Us
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The Sum of Us

Heather McGhee

What would make a society drain its public swimming baths and fill them with concrete rather than opening them to everyone? Political researcher Heather McGhee sets out across America to learn why white voters so often act against their own interests. Why do they block changes that would help them, and even destroy their own advantages, whenever people of colour also stand to benefit?


Their tragedy is that they believe they can’t win unless somebody else loses. But this is a lie, and McGhee marshals overwhelming economic evidence, and a profound well of empathy, to reveal the surprising truth: even racists lose out under white supremacy. There is no escaping the burden of discrimination.

Indeed, as McGhee shows, it was racist lending policies that triggered the 2008 financial crisis, and there can be little prospect of tackling global climate change until its zero-sum delusions are defeated. America’s racism is everybody’s problem. The Sum of Us is a heartbreaking, panoramic insight into the workings of prejudice. And it is a timely invitation to solidarity among all humans, ‘to piece together a new story of who we could be to one another’.

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