Electoral Politics
First Year Read Programs
Guns/Gun Policy
Human Rights
Mental Health
Racism/Racial Justice
White Privilege

Jonathan Metzl MD, PhD, is an acclaimed physician, psychiatrist, and sociologist who speaks and writes on a range of topics including guns, gun violence, and race, gender, and social justice in healthcare.

He is the author of the groundbreaking new book, Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland. A New York Times bestseller and named one of the most anticipated books of 2019 by Esquire and the Boston Globe, the book is an in-depth look at why so many working-class white Americans support politicians whose policies are literally killing them. The book was also the winner of the 2020 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award.

Dr. Metzl’s quest to understand the health implications of “backlash governance” led him across America’s heartland where he interviewed a range of everyday Americans. He examined how racial resentment 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, rising dropout rates, and falling life expectancies. White Americans, Dr. Metzl argues, must reject the racial hierarchies that promise to aid them but in fact lead our nation to demise.

Dr. 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 in Nashville, Tennessee. 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, A 2008 Guggenheim fellow, Professor Metzl has written extensively for medical, psychiatric, and popular publications and appears regularly on television and radio.

His other books include The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease, Prozac on the Couch: Prescribing Gender in the Era of Wonder Drugs, and Against Health: How Health Became the New Morality.


"Jonathan M. Metzl draws on his dual acuity as physician and social scientist to help make sense of the urgent issue of our time: how individuals not only act against their self-interests, but also support policies that contribute to their own early demise. A threadbare social safety net, further unraveled by virulent racism, has given way to an ailing body politic. Empathetic and poignant, (his) vital work exposes how an investment in whiteness works to the deficit of us all.
― Alondra Nelson, Columbia University and Social Science Research Council

"Jonathan M. Metzl brilliantly illuminates the shocking ways that white supremacy, through backlash governance, kills white people too. Moving deftly between mountains of data and compelling storytelling, (he) makes a vital contribution to our national conversation about racism and its discontents. Metzl uncovers the contemporary paradox of whiteness: a struggle to preserve white privilege in the midst of the declining value of whiteness."
― Dorian Warren, President, Community Change, and Co-Chair, Economic Security Project

“Policy makers, scholars, and the public at large need to read Metzl’s Dying of Whiteness. He forcefully but with empathy demonstrates how poor and working-class whites are literally killing themselves by supporting polices on guns, health care, and taxes framed as defending white authority but which, in truth, benefit the white elite.”
— Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, James B. Duke Professor of Sociology, Duke University


"Dying of Whiteness unveils how the very policies marketed to white people as 'making America great again' end up harming the well-being of whites as a demographic group. This is must reading for anyone interested in understanding the current racial landscape of the United States."
― Jelani Cobb, Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism, Columbia Journalism School

  • Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Undermines America
  • Structural Competency: A New Approach to Diversity in Health and Medicine
  • Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and the Politics of U.S. Firearms
  • Protest Psychosis: Race, Stigma, and the Diagnosis of Schizophrenia