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The Sum of Racism Hurts Every One of Us


“Heather McGhee, the sum of how racism hurts every one of us (the United States, an imprint of Random House, Penguin Random House LLC, in 2021) analyzes and outlines the massive effects felt by racism and its effect on every one of us.

The author gives a more profound and detailed enlightening exploration of the deceptive ways racism has affected everyone on different grounds. McGhee examines how racism affects both the direct target party and society. In that regard, the book brings about a compassionate aspect and offers a clarion call for unity purposes and limiting the severity of racism. The highlight of the book, therefore, is founded on “What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together,” considering society’s interconnected effects.

The Effects of Racism on Everyone

Throughout the entire reading, the author gives projection and data that shows the effects of racism and how it limits social development. It is not merely an isolated issue affecting a targeted group; it is a pervasive force whose effect inflicts much harm to the affected people in the social setup. The book gives compelling evidence, poignant stories, and persuasive arguments that affect personal growth and the ability to communicate and socialize. One of the points outlined is the idea and concept of “zero-sum thinking, “where she argues states the success and progressive achievement of one group comes along at the expense of another group’s performance and ability. As a result, this perpetuates this belief and is a source of social division and inequality. As McGhee states, in a society where people raise against others, they begin to believe that their best chance of success is by bringing others down. (McGhee, 2021). It is a risky mindset whose extreme goes above the ability to not only frustrates collective progress but more so hampers the development of practical public relation. The book also illustrates how systemic racism sabotages public infrastructure and resources, making them less available to all citizens as required. It is also an abuse of power and responsibility that has been bestowed on leaders. Quoting an African American who resides in Montgomery, Alabama, it highlighted the reality that “white flight” from cities in response to racial integration policies resulted in the abandonment of shared spaces such as public pools, libraries, and schools (McGhee, 2021). It leads to social inequality and more so affects psychological ability. The Act of abandonment deprived all the marginalized communities, eroding the social bond that binds a society towards living together.

Furthermore, the book uncovers the economic toll of racism on everyone, as demonstrated by the underinvestment in public services and social safety nets due to divisive policies. McGhee cites a study revealing that “racism is a main factor driving down tax revenue and support for public goods.” It limits the ability to have adequate funding for education, sustainable health healthcare, and social program and reinforces the interconnectedness of individual destinations.

The Primary Cause of Racism and Its Magnitude

Several causes lead to racism globally, and the author has highlighted them. The primary factor that McGhee discusses is the dominating aspect of historical- economic motivation trait that has increased racial segregation. The book states, “Racial segregation was not a by-product of the American economy. It was the American economy” (McGhee, 2021). This nature of economic imperative results in policies that intentionally bring about separate racial groups. Consequently, an ultimate resulting factor is caused by a deep-rooted disparity that persists even to date. Besides that, there is a highlight on the role of political manipulation alongside the perpetuating racism. The book explains and pictures how politicians have extended racial divisions and gained support for policies that harm everyone, particularly those that live in marginalized communities. An example from the text, the author says that the political calculus that drove the white backlash to the civil rights movement also helped in the efforts of giving us an era of deregulation, tax cuts for the wealthy, and the rise of corporate power. As a result, the change and manipulation only perpetuated racial inequality but also subjected it to exacerbated economic disparities that affect the broader population.

Furthermore, the author highlights that perpetuating stereotypes and biases has fueled racism. Some of the highlighted rational behind this include the media and popular culture, which contributed to the reinforcement of negative racial perceptions. In addition, some media houses are politically managed and manipulated, and this causes a social challenge. This deliberate exploitation and sense of prejudice have significantly hindered the solidarity necessary to manage shared economic and social challenges. The equation is racism magnitude is, underscores how economic interests, political manipulation, and the perpetuation of stereotypes have contributed to the instability. The author tries to uncover the underlying factors and, more importantly, encourages readers to appreciate the systematic nature of racism and its far-reaching impact on society.

Clarion Call by the Author

The author brings about a historical analysis and practical solutions that should be adopted to manage the prevailing issues. The clarion call is based on a call to unity and changes to mitigate the severity of racism. Some of the measures include emphasizing shared humanity in various scopes. McGhee humanizes the issue of racism by sharing personal narratives and stories that showcase individuals from diverse backgrounds’ everyday struggles and aspirations. Leaders are therefore invited to showcase their ability to solve prevailing issues. Highlighting Success stories and setting standards that offering practical Solutions should be a fundamental doctrine that all public and private offices should adopt. By advocating for these changes, she shows how dismantling racist systems can lead to improvements in the lives of all individuals. Appealing to shared Interests by pointing out that underfunded schools, inadequate healthcare, and a deteriorating infrastructure hurt all citizens, she underscores the importance of collective action to create a better society for all. Encouraging collective responsibility by acknowledging progress requires acknowledging the systemic nature of racism and actively participating in its dismantling. Promoting cross-racial solidarity is also critical in this case. The author underscores the power of cross-racial solidarity in challenging racism. She highlights historical instances and occasions where diverse groups have come together to fight for civil rights and social justice.


On different occasions, racism has affected and cost everyone in different occasions. The effects and severity of the issues have affected performance, mental health, and ability to perform assigned duties. Primary causes include political and economic positions, lack of social integration, and a common understanding. It is, therefore, essential to adhere to the call to social justice, eliminate historical beliefs, and adopt professional scope.


McGhee, H. (2023). The Sum of Us (Adapted for young readers): How racism hurts everyone. National Geographic Books.


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