From tax cuts and voting rights to healthcare and labor coalitions, middle- and working-class Americans frequently vote for politicians and support policies that go against their interests. The reason, argues economic and social policy scholar Heather McGhee, is racism. Prosperity and success, as the majority sees it, is a zero-sum game: Whatever benefits Black Americans, as well as immigrants and other minority groups, costs white Americans. In reality, explains McGhee, the opposite is true—whether it’s draining public swimming pools after integration, disinvesting in public education, or deregulating banks. These policies have had a disproportionate effect on Black and brown communities, but they hurt middle- and working-class white people, too. How have politicians and corporations pitted Americans against one another since before the country’s founding? Why is it so difficult for groups to come together across racial lines, even in the 21st century? And how are communities, from fast food workers in Kansas City to African immigrants and longtime residents of Lewiston, Maine, building new models for solidarity?
Heather McGhee, winner of the 2022 Zócalo Book Prize for The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together and the former president of Demos, visits Zócalo to discuss the racial roots of American inequality, and what it will take to grow a better nation, together.
Zócalo Public Square is proud to award the 2022 Zócalo Poetry Prize to Chelsea Rathburn for her poem “8 a.m., Ocean Drive.”
The 2022 Zócalo Book and Poetry Prizes are generously sponsored by Tim Disney.
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