First Year Matters Common Reading “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together”

Dear New Students,

Each year the First Year Matters (FYM) Committee selects a common reading for the incoming class as an intellectual introduction to Wesleyan. Last fall we solicited from the community, texts and other media addressing the issues of race, ethnicity, or nationality. I’m pleased to announce that the committee has unanimously selected The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee. McGhee is a Distinguished Senior Fellow and immediate past president at Demos, a non-profit progressive US think tank.

Intertwined with poignant personal stories, and meaningful conversations with Americans from across the United States, “The Sum of Us” offers a wide-ranging perspective about economic and sociological issues and how money influences policy making in Washington. “McGhee examines the role that greed and racism play as it relates to the zero-sum game paradigm—the idea that progress for some comes at the expense of others” (Random House). From the diminished stature of unions to the inability of the wealthiest nation on earth to embrace universal healthcare, McGhee explains that ultimately the “solidarity dividend”—the gains that are realized when people come together across race to accomplish what we simply can’t do on our own—is one surefire way to move us forward…together.

You will receive the ebook through your portfolio in the coming weeks as well as your first assignment–4 questions that you are required to answer. The Common Reading response is designed as a tool for you to begin articulating your synthesis of the book and will be made available to the faculty, staff, and student leaders that will be leading the group discussions during orientation. The submission deadline for the Common Reading responses is 5:00 pm on Friday, August 20. You will need to read the book and submit your response by this date in order to be fully prepared to engage with the material and get the most out of orientation.

If you have any questions, please be in touch with Tanesha Leathers, Dean for the Class of 2025, via classdean2025@wesleyan.edu or the Orientation Interns via orientation@wesleyan.edu. We hope that you enjoy this summer “reading” and we very much look forward to discussing the film with you. We are thrilled that you will be joining this wonderful community.

Sincerely,

Nicole Stanton
Vice President for Academic Affairs

Kevin M. Butler
Assistant Dean & Common Reading Chair

Directions for Accessing the FYM Common Reading, “The Sum of Us”

Here are the directions for accessing The Sum of Us:

  • Redeem through Google Play – visit help center for more info
    • Once redeemed, the book will appear in the Google Play account for that End User
  • End User will need a Google account (Google.com, Gmail.com, YouTube.com, etc.)
  • Once redeemed, user must be logged into Google Play with the same email they used to redeem the book (check icon on top right  to toggle between accounts if needed)

Please don’t hesitate to contact classdean2025@wesleyan.edu if you continue having difficulty.