Staff Picks: Dying of Whiteness by Jonathan Metzl
Metzl, Jonathan M. Dying of Whiteness. Basic Books, 2019.
In Dying of Whiteness Jonathan Metzl, a doctor, investigates how pursuing the politics of “whiteness” ironically leads to worsening economic, health and life expectancy outcomes for middle and low income white people, particularly white men. Metzl shows how the white backlash conservative agenda (ex. tax cuts, repeal of Obamacare, opposition to gun control) have harmed the welfare of their supporters. He compares the health outcomes in Tennessee, a state that has opposed Obamacare and Medicaid expansion, vs neighboring Kentucky, a state that embraced the ACA and has seen health outcomes rise. He looks at the gun culture in Missouri and how loosening gun laws and opposing gun reforms has led to a steep rise in gun suicides by white men. He examines how tax cuts in Kansas resulted in the reduction of funding for public education and harmed lower income Americans, including white Americans. In short, the book explores how white racial resentment and white privilege have only hurt the people who hold these beliefs. The book incorporates the stories of individuals he interviewed to illustrate the impacts on a personal level. I highly recommend it!
Borrow Dying of Whiteness from the Library.
Brenda Ellis is the Sr. Research & Instruction Librarian