Coming April 23, 2024
A genre-bending work of journalism and memoir by award-winning writer Tracie McMillan tallies the cash benefit—and cost—of racism in America.
In The White Bonus, McMillan asks a provocative question about racism in America: When people of color are denied so much, what are white people given? And how much is it worth—not in amorphous privilege, but in dollars and cents?
McMillan begins with three generations of her family, tracking their modest wealth to its roots: American policy that helped whites first. Simultaneously, she details the complexities of their advantage, exploring her mother’s death in a nursing home, at 44, on Medicaid; her family’s implosion; and a small inheritance from a banker grandfather. In the process, McMillan puts a cash value to whiteness in her life and assesses its worth.
McMillan then expands her investigation to four other white subjects of different generations across the U.S. Alternating between these subjects and her family, McMillan shows how, and to what degree, racial privilege begets material advantage across class, time, and place.
For readers of Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility and Heather McGhee’s The Sum of Us, McMillan brings groundbreaking insight on the white working class. And for readers of Tara Westover’s Educated and Kiese Laymon’s Heavy, McMillan reckons intimately with the connection between the abuse we endure at home and the abuse America allows in public.
Tracie McMillan has written for publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Mother Jones, Harper’s Magazine, Slate, and National Geographic. She trained under Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice before serving as the managing editor of the award-winning magazine City Limits from 2001 to 2005. McMillan is also the author of the bestselling The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table. Her work has been recognized by the Sidney Hillman Book Prize, the James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards, and Investigative Reporters and Editors. In 2013, she was a Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. She is based in Brooklyn, New York, but keeps an office in Detroit, Michigan.