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Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Affect Health and Well-being

Racism as a Public Health Threat Lecture Series

May 25 @ 4:00 pm 5:30 pm MDT

University of Utah faculty, staff, students, and researchers are invited to join the Division of Public Health for a special lecture, “Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentement Affect Health and Well-being”. In this lecture, Dr. Jonathan Metzl will take an in-depth look at why so many working-class white Americans support politicians whose policies are literally killing them. Dr. Metzl 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.

Panel with local leaders to follow Dr. Metzl’s remarks

Created in response to the killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, this series reflects the moral and political struggle around issues of systemic racism and inequity. This lecture series seeks to demonstrate what we fiercely believe to be true: that the physical and mental health of the whole of society is negatively impacted when racist attitudes and practices are allowed to continue uncontested. The series selects speakers whose community and intellectual efforts help connect this understanding.

Jonathan Metzl

Jonathan Metzel, MD, PhD 
Frederick B. Rentschler II Professor of Sociology and Psychiatry
Director of the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society,
Vanderbilt University


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.

Panelists & Moderator

Mary Ann Villarreal

Mary Ann Villarreal
Vice President for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; University of Utah


Moderator

Dr. Mary Ann Villarreal is fueled by an unwavering commitment to ensure the doors to receiving a degree remain open and the table is set for everyone to participate. As the inaugural vice president for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the University of Utah, she provides leadership and strategic oversight of diversity and inclusion initiatives across the University’s academic and health sciences campuses. This opportunity unites her extensive experience in higher education and her passion for social justice in leading the University on its journey to becoming an anti-racist community.

Richard Ferguson

Richard Ferguson, MD, MBA
Chief Medical Officer, Health Choice Utah
President, Black Physicians of Utah


Panelist

Dr. Richard Ferguson is a native Washingtonian (D.C.) physician who has lived in Utah since 2010. He currently works as the Chief Medical Officer for Health Choice Utah and founder/president of the Black Physicians of Utah. Dr. Ferguson is Board Certified in Family Medicine and has practiced Emergency Medicine for the past 10 years, served for seven years as a physician in the U.S. Army, and maintained a strong interest in Veteran Affairs. He has a passion for leading humanitarian care at home and abroad. Dr. Ferguson is actively involved in COVID-19 vaccination and education efforts in and out of Utah and holds an adjunct faculty position in the Department of Family & Preventative Medicine at the University of Utah. His hobbies include destination triathlons, Ballet West events, and exploring new wineries.

Daniel Mendoza

Daniel Mendoza, PhD, MS, B.A
Research Assistant Professor, Department of Atmospheric Sciences
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine
Adjunct Assistant Professor, City & Metropolitan Planning
University of Utah


Panelist

Dr. Daniel Mendoza holds joint appointments as Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Pulmonary Division in the School of Medicine, and the Department of City & Metropolitan Planning at the University of Utah. His research interests include quantifying and characterizing urban greenhouse gas and criteria pollutant emissions for use in human exposure estimation and metropolitan planning. He also examines the health effects associated with acute and chronic pollutant exposure, particularly in vulnerable populations. He is the co-director of the Consortium for Dark Sky Studies, serves as Editor in Chief of the Journal of Dark Sky Studies, and is the Director for the Dark Sky Studies Minor and instructor of the Capstone Class on Dark Sky Studies at the University of Utah.

Tashelle Wright

Tashelle Wright, PhD, MSPH
Director, Office of Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
School of Medicine


Panelist

As the Director of the Office of Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the University of Utah’s School of Medicine, Tashelle is committed to creating and implementing intersectional, culturally relevant, community-driven, evidence-based programming, training and interventions to: (1) reduce attrition among faculty and students from historically underrepresented populations, and (2) promote recruitment and retention of diverse medical school faculty, staff and students that reflect the demographics of those they serve. Her research focuses on aging, tobacco use, oral health, and COVID-19 related inequities and injustices among under-resourced and underserved populations (i.e., older adults, Blacks, Hmong, and Latinx).

Organizers & Partners

Division of Public Health

View Organizer Website

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

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