‘The Sum of Us’ Tallies the Cost of Racism for Everyone

‘The Sum of Us’ Tallies the Cost of Racism for Everyone

Hinton Rowan Helper was an unreserved North Carolina man who wrote hateful, racist things during Reconstruction. He was also, in years, a firm abolitionist for the Civil War.

His 1857 book, “The Impending Crisis of the South”, argued that chattel slavery had distorted the southern economy and spoiled the region. The members of the plantation class largely refused to invest in the community, in education, in the enterprise, because they were not to do so. Helper’s concern was not to enslave black people, whom he called “masters of the lash”; He was concerned about white laborers in the South who were seen by the slave economy and its ruling oligarchs as a “casserole of ignorance and erosion”.

Helper and his argument quickly emerge in Heather McHay’s enlightening and promising new book, “The Sum of Us” – although McGee, a descendant of slave people, is much more concerned with the situation of black Americans, making it clear that the primary victim is . Racism is people of color who are subject to it. But “The Sum of Us” is based on the idea that until whites know what the value of racism is.

The physical legacy of slavery can be felt to date, McGhee says, with depressed wages and scarce access to health care in the former Confederacy. But this is a flaw that is no longer for the region. “In a large degree,” she writes, “the story of hollowing out of the American working class is a story of the southern economy, with a deep legacy of exploitative labor and division and victory, which is national.”

As the epidemic is laid bare, the United States is a prosperous country that becomes one of the greatest when it comes to the welfare of its own people. McGhee, a liberal think tank who spent years working on economic policy for DeGoss, says it was Donald Trump’s election in 2016, which had a majority of white voters, that made him realize that most white voters were their own rational Were not working Economic Interests Despite Trump’s populist noise, she writes, her agenda promises to “wreak economic, social and environmental havoc on them with everyone.”

Credit …Andreas Burgess

At several points in McGee’s book, I was reminded of the old “about cutting one’s nose to cut off one’s face”, although she prefers a gruesome metaphor – a dry swimming pool. Grand public pools were spectacular symbols of common leisure in the early decades of the 20th century, consistently supported by white Americans until they were asked to integrate. McGhee by Montgomery, Ala. Visited the site of one such pool in India, dry and cemented since 1959 so that no one, white or black, could ever enjoy it.

It is a self-defeating form of exclusion, a determination not to share resources even if the end result is all to suffer. McGhee writes about health care, voting rights and the environment; She argues strongly that white Americans are trapped in the notion of “zero-sum” – that any profit by another group should come at the expense of white people. She speaks to scholars who have found that white respondents believed that anti-Black prejudices were more prevalent than Black-bias, although this is not true by any factual measure. This perverted mentality is another legacy of slavery, says McHee, which is actually Was Zero Sum – extracts and exploiters like extractive colonialism. She writes that zero-sum thinking “always benefits only the few, and therefore the whole, while limiting the capacity of the rest of us.”

Recent books such as Jonathan Metzl’s “Dying of Whitey” have described how racial enmity harms those who cling to a lamp of privilege. I also remembered Thomas Frank’s argument while reading McGhee “What’s the matter with Kansas?” (2004), about how the Republican Party had figured out a way to push through an unpopular economic agenda inside a Trojan horse of social conservatism and cultural grievance.

But there are major differences in his books. Frank underlines the idea that racism has nothing to do with what he is writing. Not to mention that McGahy is not a prickly polymorphic; Kajol instead of ridicule. She appeals to solid selfishness to show how our fate is tied to the fate of others. “We are suffering because our society was raised lacking in social cohesion,” she writes, explaining that the idea is “true to my optimistic nature.” She is compassionate, but refuses to downplay the horrors of racism, even if her own book reveals that the white readers she is trying to reach are protected by the politics of white identity Can easily run in search of location. Color blindness, she says, is another form of denial.

One of the events that emerges from McGhee’s account is that the zero-sum mentality tends to inquire only in times of real scarcity – when people are so desperate that they realize how much they need each other. She exemplifies the fight for the $ 15 movement: Already earning poverty-level wages, fast-food workers began to ask what they had to lose by getting organized.

She proposes “win-win” against “zero-sum” – without fully addressing how the ideal of victory is deployed for cynicism. McGahy discusses how the subprime mortgage crisis was faced by racism, but it was also inflated by promises of an ever-increasing housing market and rising prices. Once the credit dries, the win-win returns to zero-sum, losing the submerged (underwater homeowners) to the rescued (well-connected bankers).

“We live under the same sky,” McGee writes. There is a clear clarity in this book; It also has a depth of kindness that all but the most flirtatious readers will find moving. She describes in precise detail how racism afflicts white people. Still, I could not help thinking of the abolitionist helper, who knew full well how slavery afflicted the whites, but remained a purposeless racist until the end.



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