This is a kind of pop social science book (or more so a pop public health book) written by a medical researcher and doctor breaking down data, conducting interviews, and and analyzing political and health trends in a few areas of the US. The wider focus of the book is the ways in which entrenched whiteness creates not only health crises for non-white people, but also especially for white people, especially for those who, as we often say, “vote against their own interests,” or how I would suggest it, prioritize whiteness as their leading interest.
The way the book defines this “voting for whiteness” comes in the form of (intense reactionary aversion to) gun control, the refusal to expand Medicare in many states, and using the specter/rationalization of austerity to cut social services and education funding. The first two sections are much more directly tied to choosing whiteness over non-whiteness than the last one, but all three require some sorting out to point out those connections. So for gun control, or the reaction against it, the connections between gun ownership and control of one’s own environment, the open carry, stand your ground, castle doctrine laws, police violence, the fear of Black and Brown bodies, and other similar ideas come into play. The cost, to over simplify, is increased gun deaths, especially from suicide and accidents, in states with less restrictive gun laws. For Medicare expansion, the aversion is broadly two-fold: the fear that minorities will receive public good and that Obama was behind the legislation drives that policy, and the broad results are significant loss of life, calculated in the book, as loss of years of life. The defunding of education and social services primarily is tied to a refusal to allow minorities to benefit from public goods, even when white people are also harmed.
This is one of those books that puts the work into explaining something many people already feel is true, and it’s nice to have some data about it.