Dying of Whiteness

Dying of Whiteness

How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America's Heartland

Book - 2019
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Publisher: New York :, Basic Books,, March 2019.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781541644984
1541644980
Branch Call Number: 362.1089 Metzl 02/2019
Characteristics: viii, 341 pages :,illustrations ;,25 cm.

Opinion

From Library Staff

In the era of Donald Trump, many lower- and middle-class white Americans are drawn to politicians who pledge to make their lives great again. But as Dying of Whiteness shows, the policies that result actually place white Americans at ever-greater risk of sickness and death.

"Malcolm X began by adoring whiteness, grew to hate white people and, ultimately, despised the false concept of white superiority — a killer of people of color. And not only them: low- and middle-income white people too, as Metzl’s timely book shows, with its look at Trump-era policies that ... Read More »


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zenmark29
Nov 29, 2020

I will add my voice to the people who urge you to read the book. It is interesting, insightful, and the authors do a good job of presenting their case with the evidence to support it. I would also urge you to read it and develop your own understanding of the impacts of voting choices and the policies that come from them. If you don't study the people, the arguments, the policies and the outcomes, how do you know if you are getting what you want and need? Voting is not a "fire and forget it" activity. The policies that come from our elected officials can be beneficial or harmful and it is critical for voting people to understand the impact of their choices, including their mistakes. Corrections can be made and is evidenced in the story about Kansas. I hope you enjoy this thoughtful, fascinating, and at some points very sad book.

s
sjanke2
Sep 28, 2020

Through the lenses of gun ownership, healthcare, and education, Metzl and his team explore the ways that right-wing policies result in everyday mortality and shorter lifespans for the very voters who support them. Metzl visits three states to investigate in-depth these divisive issues: Missouri, Tennessee, and Kansas, respectively. By wanting to distance themselves from the racial "Other" and the inner-city or welfare stereotypes that surround people of color in this country, struggling white voters in rural areas support the defunding of federal gun violence research, affordable healthcare, and quality public education — even though these programs could save their lives.

Chapel_Hill_KrystalB Sep 25, 2020

Picked this one up in my quest to better understand why some white working and middle class folks often vote in ways that not only fail to help them in any way but actually harm them, if not individually, as a group. Broken into three hot button issues- gun laws, healthcare, and education- in three different states- Missouri, Tennessee, and Kansas (respectively)- Metzl reviews data before and after some major policy shifts, and compares it to data from states that went in different directions. What's revealed are literal "mortal trade-offs," often guided by racist belief, distrust of government, and good ol' tradition. I appreciate his extensive research, but will admit, it is a lot to absorb, and think there was missed opportunity to make it a bit more accessible. Sure am glad he endeavored to connect these dots, though.

n
ndzobo
Sep 15, 2020

If you're a sycophant neo-liberal you'll enjoy the biased perspective driving the assumptions made. If you're a fan of logic and reason you'll waste a few hours wondering how anyone could ignore all contrary representations to make these unsubstantiated claims. I'll save you some time, start with confirmation bias, and a conclusion and use anecdotal storylines to prop it up. Avoid objective deduction and you've got a book a third of the country will swallow without a challenge.

c
C_larsen
Feb 16, 2020

An incredible book on an increasingly important topic. There are many great comments below so I'll restrict mine to aspects that stood out to me. I'll add the caveat that the book was a survey of 3 midwestern states (kansas, Tennessee & Missouri) and included both rural and urban areas.
Firearm laws take up a large consideration. As has been noted, it is a charged title. With regard to firearms, 60 % of all firearm deaths are suicides. Of these suicides, almost 90% are white. Suicide by firearm is one of the most effective means of suicide (85% effective vs 3% for pill overdose). The author does a masterful job of demonstrating how less restrictive gun laws ( ie. Fewer permits restrictions , open carry) lead to increase in firearm deaths (including suicide). Connecticut, after Sandy Hook, provides a contrast in how more restrictive gun laws resulted in fewer firearm deaths.
It would seem that just having more firearms around is enough to increase the risk of firearm death, especially as most suicides do not consider the act more than a few hours prior to the attempt.
Furthermore, the Dickey Amendment bars the CDC from research into gun violence. The NRA had a hand in the amendment's passage in the nineties and yet often decries the accuracy of gun research.
Federally funded databases are crucial in determining what specific undertakings are effective in preventing gun violence.
The author demonstrates that throughout the history of the US, restrictive gun laws were passed barring natives and blacks from owning weapons. Historically, one of the reasons for state militias was to suppress slave uprisings (ie. Nat Turners Rebellion).
The author sat down with many individuals and groups in the above mentioned states to find out what they really thought. It is amazing how many opposed expanding medical benefits and education spending out of concerns that much spending would go to immigrants (illegal and legal) and "welfare queens". Even if these programs would benefit themselves. As anti -immigrant attitudes spread, this yields a community mind-set of resistance and even of noble sacrifice that will endure much, even unto death, to preserve perceived way of life and people.
Improvements in health, education, mental health are all crucial in improving lives and benefits everyone's general well being (and are fundamental in positive economic growth).
One of the more disturbing things raised is the recent poll that 58% of Republicans believe college has a negative effect on US

c
cknightkc
Feb 14, 2020

DYING OF WHITENESS takes a sobering and frequently infuriating look at why so many white Americans vote against their own self-interests. Physician and sociologist Jonathan M. Metzl examines the history and effects of racial anxiety and perceived white privilege in today’s politics. Although far-right conservative candidates promise to restore greatness, their policies, according to Metzl’s research, have the opposite effect. Whites, as well as people of color, are left poorer, sicker, less safe, and less educated. Much of the book focuses on the consequences of far-right policies in 3 midwestern states: repeal of gun safety laws in Missouri, the blockage of ACA and Medicaid Expansion in Tennessee, and the Brownback Tax Experiment with cuts to public education and social safety nets in Kansas. Thought-provoking and well-researched, DYING OF WHITENESS is sometimes wordy and tough to read, particularly when Metzl presents statistics. Still, it’s an impressive work leaving the reader to ponder how much all of society would benefit from a cooperative, rather than an Us vs. Them, approach to governing.

c
Charlie_R
Dec 30, 2019

I really wanted to give this book a chance despite the racially-charged title. (Can you imagine the uproar if a book called "Dying from Blackness" appeared in a library?) This book is a patronizing look at what's happening in "white America," including the admonition that people who don't support the writer's politics don't understand what's in their best interest. It barely mentions gun violence in our urban black neighborhoods, and if it did, the author would have to pick a title more reflective of the real problem our country has with regard to gun ownership and violence. Guns are a problem everywhere, and not just in predominately white areas. I'd suggest that anyone who wants to know more about what is happening in rural American should actually talk to someone in rural America, rather than read affluent academics' opinions about people in rural America. Until that happens, our rural/urban conflict will just grow worse.

r
rixonkj
Dec 28, 2019

This book is a must-read. It provides essential context to American politics that is often lost in the fast pace of news delivery: culture war topics that don't, on the surface, appear to be about race, are often actually about American's original sin of slavery continuing to reverberate through time. Pairs extremely well with analysis of the history of the 'pro-life' movement (did you know they first formed, very-not-coincidentally, right after Brown v. Board of Education?), and NYT opinion pieces on what 'white working class' folks in diners in the Midwest think about politics.

l
Lirael
Dec 26, 2019

A fascinating look at how government policies driven and instituted by racism have a deadly effect on white people just as much, especially white men in many cases. The introduction alone is well worth reading, as is the author's conclusion.

c
cardigramma
Dec 12, 2019

This was a very hard book to read. Listening to the stories of people who twist and turn to justify why they vote against their self interest. It was very depressing.

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cknightkc
Feb 14, 2020

“Trevor voiced a literal willingness to die for his place in this hierarchy, rather than participate in a system that might put him on the same plane as immigrants or racial minorities. - p. 4

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