New York Academy of Medicine, 1216 Fifth Avenue, New York
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. As Jonathan Metzl 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. Having interviewed 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. Based on his new book of the same title, Metzl’s talk demonstrates just how much white America would benefit by emphasizing cooperation, rather than by chasing false promises of supremacy.
Jonathan Metzl is the Frederick B. Rentschler II Professor of Sociology and Psychiatry, and the Director of the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt University. He received his MD from the University of Missouri, MA in humanities/poetics and Psychiatric internship/residency from Stanford University, and PhD in American Culture from University of Michigan.