During the last presidential election, many lower- and middle-class white Americans were drawn to politicians who pledge to make their lives great again. But have the resulting policies actually placed those very Americans at a greater risk of sickness and death?
In his new book, Dying of Whiteness, physician Jonathan M. Metzl embarks on a journey to understand the health implications of "backlash governance" in America's heartland. Interviewing a range of everyday Americans, he examines how racial resentment has fueled pro-gun laws in Missouri, resistance to the Affordable Care Act in Tennessee, and cuts to schools and social services in Kansas. And he shows these policies' costs: increasing deaths by gun suicide, falling life expectancies, and rising dropout rates.
Jonathan M. Metzl is the Frederick B. Rentschler II professor of sociology and psychiatry at Vanderbilt University and director of its Center for Medicine, Health, and Society. A prominent expert on gun violence and mental illness, his other books include Prozac on the Couch and Difference and Identity in Medicine.