2020 Hot Topics

Dying of Whiteness: How Racial Resentment is Decimating America’s Heartland

Event Date Thu Jan 9, 2020
Event Time 6 PM
Four Seasons Resort VailOne Vail Road | Vail

With the rise of the Tea Party and the election of Donald Trump, many middle- and lower-income white Americans threw their support behind conservative politicians who pledged to make life great again for people like them. However, right-wing backlash policies have mortal consequences–even for the white populations they promise to help.

Physician and sociologist Jonathan M. Metzl traveled across America’s heartland seeking to better understand the politics of racial resentment and its impact on public health. Interviewing a range of Americans, he uncovers how racial anxieties led to the repeal of gun control laws in Missouri, stymied the Affordable Care Act in Tennessee, and fueled massive cuts to schools and social services in Kansas. Although such measures promised to restore greatness to white America, Metzl’s systematic analysis of health data dramatically reveals they did just the opposite: these policies made life sicker, harder and shorter in the very populations they purported to aid. Thus, white gun suicides soared, life expectancies fell, and school dropout rates rose.

In this compelling program, physician Jonathan Metzl discusses his book, “Dying of Whiteness” and how it shows the right-wing policies that resulted from this white backlash put these voters’ very health at risk and, in the end, threaten everyone’s well-being.

This program is underwritten by Holly & Ben Gill and Ann & Tom Rader
The Hot Topics Series is graciously underwritten by Kathy & Neal Kimmel


Jonathan Metzl

Jonathan Metzl

Director of the Center for Medicine, Health and Society

Vanderbilt University