The most important book you’ll read in 2021

I have a prediction for 2021. Readers across the country, from book group members to policymakers, will be passionately discussing the same book: The Sum of UsWhat Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee. 

With sharp analysis and a wealth of personal stories from Americans of all colors, McGhee examines the appalling costs of racism to everyone in the U.S., including white people. From our lack of universal health care, to our tattered democracy, to our inaction on climate change, to regular outbursts of misery such as the 2007 housing crisis and our handling of COVID, she explores how racism has made life more arduous, more dangerous, and less rewarding for all Americans. 

I’ve had the good fortune to accompany Heather throughout her journey of writing The Sum of Us, serving as her research and writing assistant. This means I’ve read books, articles, and studies, conducted interviews, and drafted segments or summaries for Heather to use as she harnessed her policy expertise, personal insights, and writing talent to produce a  book that will expand the way people think about racism.

For the past three decades I’ve worked and written for organizations that have racial justice as their mission. I thought I had a pretty good grasp—for a white woman—of racism and its root structure, how it is tangled into every element of American life. Yet The Sum of Us stretched my understanding of racism and its consequences in powerful ways. 

The book will hit bookstores on February 16. You can preorder  The Sum of Us now.

I can’t wait to hear what you think.

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