A review by an_aesthetic
The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together, by Heather McGhee


In this book, Heather McGhee explores the concept of the zero-sum paradigm, tacking the baffling question of why so many white people believe that if a minority group does well, it comes at the expense of white people’s success. A zero-sum paradigm is exactly what it sounds like—a lose-lose situation where both sides suffer. White people will often champion or vote against an issue, often at their own expense. I absolutely agreed with everything McGhee said in this book. She’s a highly intelligent and well-spoken author. For me though, I thought this book was a little dense and hard to follow at some points. It was super information heavy and parts of it read more like an analytical study, instead of a book. Also I found certain portions of the book to be repetitive and often she would introduce a question and explore it, but not follow through with a solution. But those qualms aside, the book is very eye-opening. There was a specific part in the book that blew my mind because it had never occurred to me. She talks about how 9/10 of the poorest states in the US are in the South. These are also the states that most heavily relied on slavery. These states are so poor today, because they did not have a need to invest in economic infrastructure or community organization. The suffering of black slaves led to the eventual suffering of white residents of those same states.