Season 3, Episode 5

Heather McGhee on the Zero Sum Lie

Author and activist Heather McGhee joins hosts Phil Buchanan and Grace Nicolette for the fifth episode of season three of the Giving Done Right podcast. Heather provides keen insight into ‘drained pool’ politics, a core metaphor in her book, “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together,” that reveals how the racial zero sum mindset hurts everyone. She presents a compelling picture of how racial inequality cuts across any number of issues that donors may care about, and therefore needs to be deeply considered and addressed in order to be effective in giving. She also describes “the solidarity dividend,” the significant benefits that result when people come together across differences, and she shares her reasons for feeling optimistic about the future.

Guest Info:
Heather McGhee designs and promotes solutions to inequality in America. Her book, “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together,” represents years of research and a journey across the country, and provides first-hand insight into what is lost when we buy into the racial zero sum mindset and what can be gained through the “solidarity dividend.” 

Heather’s 2020 TED talk, “Racism Has a Cost for Everyone” reached 1 million views in just two months online, and she recently launched an original podcast, “The Sum of Us,” on how to create cross-racial solidarity in challenging times.

An activist and organizer as well, Heather has testified in Congress, drafted legislation, and developed strategies for organizations and campaigns that won changes to improve the lives of millions. For nearly two decades, she helped build the non-partisan “think and do” tank Demos, serving as president for four years. Through her regular media appearances, she elevates the concerns of working families on programs including NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

She also chairs the board of Color of Change, the country’s largest online racial justice organization, and volunteers for numerous other boards in the fields of philanthropy and social justice. 

Executive Producer: Sarah Martin
Audio engineer: Kevin O’Connell
Additional editing: Isabel Hibbard
Music: “FasterFasterBrighter” and “Kid Kodi” by Blue Dot Sessions
Artwork: Jay Kustka

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together
The Sum of Us Podcast 
TED Talk: Racism Has a Cost for Everyone
Our Common Purpose Initiative – Rockefeller Brothers Fund
Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century
Poor People’s Campaign
Demos’ Racial Equity Transformation
Eyes on the Prize
The Fight for 15
The Who We Are Project