For the 2023-24 academic year, Cal Poly Pomona’s First Year Experience (FYE) Committee has selected Heather McGhee’s “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together,” for the annual Common Read program.
Every academic year, all CPP students, staff, faculty and friends are encouraged to read and engage with the same book. The Common Read is also a component of the university’s FYE courses.
In “The Sum of Us,” McGhee dives into her specialty, the American Economy, and the mystery of why it often fails the American public. From the financial crisis to rising student debt to collapsing public infrastructure, McGhee has found a common root problem: racism. McGhee explains that racism has costs for white people too and it is the common denominator of our most vexing public problems, the core dysfunction of our democracy and constitutive of the spiritual and moral crises that grip us all.
Cindy Pickett, presidential associate for inclusion and chief diversity officer at Cal Poly Pomona, nominated the book. In her position, Pickett leads CPP’s efforts to improve equity, diversity and inclusion on campus. Pickett said that she is delighted that “The Sum of Us” was chosen and hopes that the Cal Poly Pomona campus community finds it as enlightening and compelling as she did.
“’The Sum of Us’ delves into the hidden costs of racism and makes the case that laws and practices that discriminate against African Americans also negatively impact society at large,” Pickett said. “By reading and engaging with the book, I hope readers are able to see how racism has harmed American society as a whole and that uniting and supporting communities of color benefits us all.”
Dora Lee, who oversees FYE as the director of Academic Support and Learning Services, said that the CPP Common Read is a great way for first-year students to feel more a part of the campus community.
“Our Common Read offers students the opportunity to engage in meaningful and healthy discussions and participate in book-related activities, allowing students to come away with the sense of connectedness with their peers and the greater Bronco community,” Lee said.
First-year students will have an opportunity to read and engage with the book while in FYE courses. In addition, students will also participate in the annual essay contest focused on the book’s themes.
Throughout the 2023-24 academic year, FYE will host programming and events around the book’s themes. All events will be open to the Cal Poly Pomona community and more information will be available on the FYE website.