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Racism costs everyone: Expert makes 'cents' of equity for all residents at public event

Heather McGhee

Heather McGhee, a New York Times best selling author, will give a public talk at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus on March 15, 2022 about the economic impacts of structural racism.

Equity and structural racism are becoming more common in the public lexicon, but many residents may struggle to identify local and immediate impacts to their lives. In this latest installment of the Speakers Who Inspire series, hosted by the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg and the USF St. Petersburg campus, Ms. McGhee lends a compassionate and data-driven lens to explain the economic impacts of structural racism for people of all demographic backgrounds.

According to a regional report by the Tampa Bay Partnership published in 2020, “eliminating racial and ethnic discrimination in wealth would add $50 billion to the region’s $248 billion economy.”

“We know racism from individuals and structural racism in our system combine to hold back our Black, Indigenous and People of Color as measured by holistic health and wealth measures across the lifespan of people in the United States,” states Randall H. Russell, president and ceo of the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg. “It’s our hope that as more people in Pinellas recognize the overarching benefits of correcting policies that stem from historically racist periods, the more quickly we can improve the quality of life, and health, for all.”

“This is the great moral responsibility of our time; undoing discriminatory practices to achieve true race and health equity. Concepts presented by Ms. McGhee in her book, ‘The Sum of Us’ are being applied locally through multi-sector collaboration including the business industry and higher education,” Randall said.

McGhee designs and promotes solutions to inequality in America. Over her career in public policy, she has crafted legislation, testified before Congress and helped shape presidential campaign platforms. Her book The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together spent 10 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and was longlisted for the National Book Award and Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction.

"Bringing distinguished thinkers and speakers to campus to discuss key issues impacting our communities is a major responsibility of any university," said USF St. Petersburg campus Regional Chancellor Martin Tadlock. “Heather McGhee brings a perspective that allow us to challenge our own assumptions and beliefs, especially in relation to the ongoing national dialogue about forming a more equitable society for all people. We are thrilled to host her, providing our students, faculty, local businesses and residents this opportunity for greater understanding about the impacts of structural racism and what we can do about it."

Speakers Who Inspire: Heather McGhee is free, and lunch will be provided. Networking begins at 10:30 a.m., keynote from 12-1:30 p.m., and panel conversation by local businesses working in equity will last through close at 3 p.m. Residents can click here to register.

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