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Jonathan M. Metzl

Vanderbilt University

Dr. Jonathan M. Metzl is a Professor of Psychiatry, and Frederick B. Rentschler II Professor of Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He additionally serves as the Director of the University’s Department of Medicine, Health, and Society.

Dr. Metzl frequently writes about the intersection of race, class, and health with public policy. His main body of work is centered on his thesis that whites reject sound policy purely out of racial spite. He alleges that much of the dysfunction in conservative states is due to the adoption or rejection or policy based upon racial resentment.

His latest book—titled, “Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland”— alleges that much of what animated conservatives from the Tea-Party was the election of a black President—Barack Obama—in a move he describes as a, “white backlash.” He further states this was codified with the election of Donald Trump – of whom Dr. Metzl describes as a skilled manipulator of “whiteness.”

In an interview with the publication, VOX, Dr. Metzl alleges that white anxiety to minorities causes them to reject policies to the detriment of their own health. He specifically cites opposition to Obamacare, alleging that this cost GOP voters literal weeks off their lifespan. When asked why white voters do not align with their economic counterparts in the minority community, Dr. Metzl responded that whites feel a “psychological benefit” and sense of prestige for obtaining whiteness, or privilege over minorities.

Another policy cited in the book is opposition to gun control or support of the second amendment. Dr. Metzl alleges that there is a passage of gun control legislation and a decrease in crime serve as a direct correlation between an easing of gun restrictions in conservative states and a sharp increase in gun deaths.

At the time of the book’s publication in 2019, America was in the midst of a multi-decade reduction of gun violence. Suicide by gun violence had been cut in half over the past 2 decades. University of Chicago economist John Lott’s landmark study of gun crime—titled, “More Guns, Less Crime,”—further demonstrated there is no link between the two.

Dr. Metzl had previously written about gun owenership’s connection to “whiteness.” In one op-ed for MSNBC, Dr. Metzl wrote there is a correlation between the “male gender, hegemonic whiteness, and gun violence.” In the same paper, he alludes that males are responsible for mass shootings, stating that, “nearly every shooter over the past 30 years has been male.”

He further alleges that males feel “entitled” to relationships, financial success, social status, and other items as part of American culture. He believes that their failure to obtain these things leads to men lashing out and committing violent crimes. Dr. Metzl urges others to look at the link between gender and mass shootings, positing a link between “entitled masculinity” and gun-ownership.

In a separate interview for, “Dying of Whiteness” for The Guardian, Dr. Metzl states that American Gun culture is “entwined” with white privilege. He repeats this allegation for Salon, stating that supporting the second amendment is akin to being “white”:

In addition to his professorial duties, Dr. Metzl frequently makes prominent appearances, including on MSNBC, CNN, and HBO. He is currently working on a project involving Men’s Health, titled, “Masculinity, Race, and the Politics of American Men’s Health.”


Parents and Students can contact Vanderbilt University at (615) 322-7311.

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