The United States is in the midst of a collective reckoning of the systemic racism that has plagued the country for generations.
“Suddenly, we really have laid bare how vulnerable our people are to the power of companies to just treat them as disposable.” — Heather McGhee, author
America’s racist history is deep, pervasive and goes way beyond law enforcement. Can the current movement galvanize enough momentum to upend the implanted roots of inequality in this nation and hold accountable the institutions that perpetuate it?
Listen: The economic and social costs of America’s racism.
Heather McGhee is an American political commentator, political strategist and currently a distinguished senior fellow and former president of Demos, a non-profit progressive U.S. think tank. She is also author of the forthcoming book “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together.“
The pandemic, McGhee says, is an important factor in the persistence of the current movement for social change.
“Suddenly, we really have laid bare how vulnerable our people are to the power of companies to just treat them as disposable,” says McGhee. She adds that the current overwhelming popularity of the Black Lives Matter movement points to real change being possible. “Movements work — they change consciousness, they call people into action. We finally realized at a majoritarian level that this country continues to deny the power of those symbols whether it’s Aunt Jemima or confederate symbols,” says McGhee.
The racism and politics of white grievance that has long afflicted America comes at an economic cost according to McGhee. She says that this brand of politics hurts even the majority of white Americans economically and socially.
“I think it’s the zero-sum idea that’s been sold for so long in America that my status comes at the expense of your progress. We have got to get on the same team,” says McGhee.