Review: Jonathan Metzl, Dying of Whiteness (2019)
Publisher: Insurgent Notes
Date Written: 05/05/2019
Year Published: 2019
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX23680
A detailed review, focusing mainly on gun violence, of Jonathan Metzl's book Dying of Whiteness.
I believe that Metzl's argument can be summarized as follows. Voters electing politicians whose policies will hurt them is nothing new. However, the most recent incarnations of that history reflect the "toxic effects" of what he refers to as a "dogma," which consists of beliefs about governmental assistance being evil, the legitimacy of a racial hierarchy, and the problem of handouts to minorities. He ascribes a great deal of power and effectiveness to the role of right-wing politicians setting an agenda for the crystallization of that dogma-an agenda that was first tested in southern and Midwestern states and then made national in scope....
Metzl argues that white folks' support for damaging policies, even after negative effects become apparent, is grounded in the lasting power of "imagined narratives of victimhood and domination." The perception of pervasive white victimhood has led people to accept a high probability of dying for whiteness. But it's not always the death of a kamikaze pilot; instead, it's often slow and excruciating....
But the problem is not a disorder in people's brains or attitudes and will not be addressed by sensitivity trainings or better arguments; it's a matter of politics and policies.