February 22, 2021
Episode 99

Heather McGee on the Solidarity Dividend and The Sum of U‪s‬

Our guest this week is Heather McGhee. Heather is the Chair of the Board of Directors for Color of Change, America’s largest racial justice organization. She’s also the author of the new book “The Sum of Us,” now available in bookstores across the country.

ABOUT THE SUM OF US

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.

“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 Maine to Mississippi to California, 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 a zero-sum game.

Listen:

Apple Podcasts Apple Podcasts Apple Podcasts Apple Podcasts

Sources for audio clips

Heather McGhee Interstitials
IntroB31A28A3:B30
What is the Racial Wealth Gap? | Robert Reich https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OD-_apYzFMQ
What is the Racial Wealth Gap? | Robert Reich https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OD-_apYzFMQ
Washington Journal C-Span https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsUa7eCgE_U&t=6s
Racism has a cost for everyone | Heather C. McGhee -TED https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaCrsBtiYA4
Income Inequality
How America Created Its Shameful Wealth Gap | Robert Reich https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9diZJks95Ko
Joe Manchin
Senator Joe Manchin on Democrats advancing resolution for COVID-19 relief package - CBS This Morning https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0Zqefv-LKA
Racial Cooperation
Racism has a cost for everyone | Heather C. McGhee -TED https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaCrsBtiYA4
Racial Inequity in Home Ownership
How America Created Its Shameful Wealth Gap | Robert Reich https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9diZJks95Ko
Racial Disparity in Climate Change
Why Do White People Care Less About Climate Change? - The Damage Report https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSj1-WgoNjU
Infrastructure
America in transition: Aging infrastructure at a breaking point - ABC news https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gc5pXB9aIw
Barabara Lee
Barbara Lee Sorry Not Sorry Episode
Outro
United against racism - UNESCO https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDKOzFyes5Q

Show Credits

Host: Alyssa Milano
Executive Producer: Alyssa Milano
Associate Producer: Ben Jackson
Editing and Sound Production: Natasha Jacobs
Music by: Josh Cooke & Eleisha Eagle