Cover art for podcast The Institute of Black Imagination.

The Institute of Black Imagination.

61 EpisodesProduced by darioWebsite

Welcome to The Institute of Black Imagination hosted by artist, writer, and designer Dario Calmese. Each week we bring you conversations from The Pool of Black Genius: a collection of iconoclasts at the leading edge of cultural thought and innovation. We are here to inspire, engage, and to help you … read more


E23. The Hidden Costs of Racism with Heather McGhee

Heather McGhee designs and promotes solutions to inequality in America.  Do you know Heather?  You might know Heather. Maybe you saw her on NBC’s Meet the Press, or MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Or perhaps you saw her sparring with Republican Senator John Kennedy during the confirmation hearings of supreme court Justice Neil Gorsuch, or it just may have been that time when, while on C-Span, an older white gentleman called in to acknowledge his own racism and prejudice, and wanted Heather’s advice on how to change, how to be a better american Citizen, and Heather’s response went… viral. 

Born on the south side of Chicago, and raised in suburbs of Evanston IL, Heather McGhee has made a career out of fighting for a more equal America. She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Yale University and a law degree from University of California, Berkeley, and for the last two decades, helped build the nonpartisan “think and do” tank, Demos, later serving as president for four years. She’s argued before the Supreme Court to protect voting rights. She’s helped Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz design anti-bias training for its 250,000 employees. She’s lead research campaigns behind successful wage increases for low-wage workers on federal contracts as well as at Walmart and McDonalds.

And that’s like, 5% of her resume. But of course, Heather is so much more than her work. She’s also a wife and mother of a beautiful two-year-old, who makes a small cameo in this episode. 

Her new book being released this week, and also partially written while carrying the aforementioned toddler, is called The Sum of Us. It unravels the mystery of how. How the wealthiest country on earth suffers some of its worst health disparities, has a collapsing infrastructure, all while its citizens are crippled by insurmountable levels debt. One word: Racism. And you know who actually suffers most?  White people. 

In this episode we discuss Heather’s journey into hallowed halls of our country’s government, How motherhood has changed her view of the world, what parents can do to ensure their children receive good educations, even while under lockdown, and how we ALL lose in the zero-sum game of racism. 

Heather's website:

Get your copy of "The Sum of Us" here.

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