Book Review:
Racisms cost to everyone

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

Heather McGhee, 2021

I highly recommend Heather's McGhee's book, The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together (2021). Chapter 2, "Racism Drained the Pool," is possibly the best 20 or so pages I've read in recent years regarding the effects of racism in the U.S. on the public good.  McGhee discusses how many American cities, large and small, closed down public pools during the 1940's and 50's rather than allow their pools to be integrated, thereby denying swimming pools to low and middle income white children in order to deny them to black children. McGhee also describes the effects of slavery and Jim Crow laws on the funding of public assets such as libraries,  and the restricted access of black Americans to a long list of public benefits from farm loans to GI benefits to education and home ownership, to jobs covered by minimum wage laws; and much more.  In her book's first chapter, McGhee argues cogently that the very idea of freedom in America -- for which there was no model in Europe -- was shaped by contrast with the conditions of black slaves.  

 

The Sum of Us is a powerful important book, one of the few books I've read on race in America that has the potential to alter public discourse.       

-- Dee Wilson

 

deewilson13@aol.com