Book+ Club

Next meeting: Thursday, May 11

Habitat Oregon’s book/multimedia club will conclude on Thursday, May 11. During the last installment, we’ll chat about chapter 10 (the conclusion) and Heather McGhee’s keynote address at the Western Region Conference. Discussion topics TBA are below. Register for the May 11 meeting here »



If you find the schedule difficult to read in this format, please email Megan Parrott.

DateChapters from the book +
Alternative options
Topics coveredDiscussion questions
May 11Chapter 10

Keynote Address at the Western Region Conference

Alternative options:

• The Sum of Us Podcast: Lewiston, ME: Food Justice and Immigration

Keynote recap
Bring your questions!

1. If you were present for McGhee's keynote address at the Western Region Conference, what resonated with you most?

2. McGhee coined the phrase “The Solidarity Dividend” to describe Americans reaching across racial lines to work together for the common good—and securing better lives for us all. Discuss some of the examples she shares where such solidarity has been achieved, or examples you've seen in your community.

3. What’s one thing you can do this week to work toward solidarity?
Nov. 3Introduction-Chapter 1

Alternative options:

• Video: Heather McGhee's TED Talk

• Video: HM on the thesis of her book

• Podcast/Transcript: A conversation with HM about the cost of America's racial bargain
Zero-sum paradigm (your loss is my gain) versus cross-racial solidarity

History of the zero-sum story in the U.S.
1. What sentiment or message has stuck with you?

2. Was there anything in these chapters that was difficult to read/learn about?

3. Name examples of the zero-sum paradigm. Can you think of anything from your local community that plays into this dynamic?

4. What topics mentioned in the introduction are you interested in learning more about?
Dec. 1Chapters 2-3

Alternative options: Please note: Some of these videos contain strong language

• Podcast: The Sum of Us: Why Can’t We Have Nice Things: Listen on Spotify (or search your favorite podcast app)

• Excerpt: Public pools used to be everywhere in America. Then racism shut them down

• Video: What Happened to America’s Public Pools?

• Video: How Housing Redlining Contributed to the Racial Wealth Gap and Segregation

• Video: Cost of College with Heather McGhee
Lack of public investment in services

Education and health care
1. McGhee uses the example of public pools to illustrate how racism causes people to destroy something that could benefit us all. Can you identify other "pools" — public goods that you see America going without? How do you now think differently about the role racism might have played?

2. Can you think of any examples of "drained pools" — literal or otherwise — from the community where you live or grew up (or from some other aspect of your life)? Does this book shed new light on that situation?

3. How are we as a society (and as the Habitat network) still dealing with ramifications from systems and policies like redlining, the Homestead Act and mortgage benefits from the GI Bill?

4. Let's talk about how the "drained pool" led to the student debt crisis — how has this influenced generations of white and Black college graduates?
Jan. 12Chapters 4-5

Alternative/Supplemental options:

• The Sum of Us Podcast: Flipping Burgers: Listen on Spotify (or search your favorite podcast app)

• Video: The Wages of Whiteness

• Video/Article: Why the homeownership gap between White and Black Americans is larger today than it was over 50 years ago

• Report: OCPP Finds Racial Pattern in Oregon's Subprime Lending

• HFHI Report: Racial Disparities and Housing Policy

• Video: How Housing Redlining Contributed to the Racial Wealth Gap and Segregation

1. Did Chapter 4 debunk any myths you had about subprime mortgages?

2. How do foreclosures lead to other losses across our communities and society?

3. How does this country penalize people for asking for help?

4. How do systems and policies, such as redlining, perpetuate other forms of discrimination against Black people to this day?

5. Why would laborers like the white auto workers HM describes refuse to unionize? How does this enhance your understanding of the "mystery" of people who vote against their own interest?
Feb. 2Chapters 6-7

Alternative options:

• The Sum of Us Podcast: Orlando, FL: The Land of Second Chances (voting rights)

• Article/Timeline: America's long history of Black voter suppression

• Article: Understanding Exclusionary Zoning and Its Impact on Concentrated Poverty

• Resource: Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America
Voting rights

1. Did you learn anything about voting rights from chapter 6? Did the book bust any myths for you? Does this knowledge make you think differently about your own voting experience?

2. Think about your own experience with segregation, either growing up or in the community you live in now. Does chapter 7 shed any light on your understanding of this topic?

3. Heather McGhee writes that white people are the most segregated people in America. What are some costs of continuing to segregate like this? What are the benefits of integration — both culturally and economically?
March 2Chapters 8-9

Alternative options:

• Article: Pollution, Poverty and People of Color: Living with Industry

• Report: Which racial/ethnic groups care most about climate change?

• Further reading: Confronting Colorblindness and Neutrality

• Further reading: Demos’ Racial Equity Transformation: Key Components, Process & Lessons
Climate change

White supremacy culture
1. Name examples of coalitions coming together to combat climate change. What's the common thread?

2. What are the pitfalls of color-blindness?

3. Heather McGhee shared about the Racial Equity Transformation process she led at Demos and the organizational changes this resulted in ... How can we make similar changes at our affiliates and across the network? What strategies are you interested in pursuing?

Bring your own questions for discussion!


Details and FAQs

  • When are meetings? Book+ Club meetings will be held from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Thursday (once a month). The full schedule is listed above. We’ll cover 1-2 chapters each month.
  • Do I have to read the whole book or commit to every session? Nope! Join us for however many sessions you’d like. We’ll provide alternative options, such as videos, articles and/or podcasts, for folks who want to engage but can’t commit to reading the whole book. Participate at whatever level feels comfortable
  • Please register for each session that you wish to attend (click on the dates above). This will help us plan accordingly.
  • What will the monthly sessions be like? We will open each session with a quick ice-breaker/group check-in, then launch into discuss (questions listed above and emailed to registered attendees beforehand).
    • Depending on how many people show up, we’ll divvy up into breakout rooms. We’ll keep it light; there’s no pressure to know all the facts or have all the answers — we want everyone to feel comfortable participating. We will incorporate group agreements into each session to help ensure a productive and safe space for all participants.
  • Have fun! Leave your email behind for 90 minutes, bring your favorite beverage and snacks, and join us in community as we read and learn together!
  • How do I join the sessions? Please register by clicking on the date(s) above. You’ll receive confirmation email from Zoom that contains a calendar link and the link to join the meeting.
  • Where can I purchase the book? See below 🙂
  • Question not answered? Email Megan Parrott


Where to purchase the book: