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Tragic Investment

How Race Sabotages Communities and Jeopardizes America’s Future—and What We Can Do about It

America’s investment in race and racial oppression was central to its early years as a nation—a theme that dates back to Europe’s earliest colonial efforts in the Western Hemisphere.

Some of the contemporary consequences for communities of color are clear: Numerous studies routinely quantify racial disparities in virtually every social arena.

But are there negative consequences of this historical investment for white people?





“Thick and deep, clear and well-resourced, Tragic Investment is an invitation into wholeness for individuals and communities steeped in the historical suffering brought by our collective racist past. If you don’t understand why some people are upset about racism, read this book. If you don’t yet see the impact racism has had on you, your family, your community, and your neighbors, read this book. If you have been looking for ways to dismantle the social architecture of white supremacy but don’t know where to begin, or as a white person you don’t see a place for you in conversations about race, start here. Read this book.”

—Mary Clifford, PhD; Saint Cloud State University, Saint Cloud, Minnesota


“R. James Addington has managed to provide readers with an exceptionally well-conceived, well-researched, and well-argued analysis of structural racism in the U.S. that will be accessible and usable for scholars, community activists and organizers, for secondary and post-secondary students and for the general public. His book provides readers with historical context for understanding racial formation and ideology, a powerful analysis of systemic and structural racism, a rigorous critique of white identity, and a practical and actionable guide to organizing against racism and for sustainable, resilient communities.”

—Frances Condon, PhD; Waterloo University, Waterloo, Ontario


“…a very deep look and…. a strong contribution to a growing field of analytic literature that puts the American experience of race into clearer focus. He offers a practical vision of collaborative work in communities and its relationship to interrupting long-standing patterns within society as a whole. It is a book that every organizer should read.”

—Terry Bergdall, PhD; Board of Directors, Asset Based Community Development Institute, DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois

Tragic Investment

Tragic Investment