Tracie McMillan: The White Bonus

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - 6:30pm

Literati is thrilled to welcome Tracie McMillan in celebration of her new book, The White Bonus. She'll be joined in conversation by Kat Stafford. 

About the Book: 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. She 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

Raised in rural Michigan, Detroit- and Brooklyn-based writer Tracie McMillan has written for publications including the New York Times; Washington PostLos Angeles TimesMother JonesHarper’s Magazine; Slate; and National Geographic. After putting herself through New York University and training under legendary reporter Wayne Barrett, she was the managing editor of the award-winning magazine City Limits from 2001 to 2005. A one-time target of Rush Limbaugh and a 2012-13 Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellow, McMillan is also the author of the bestselling The American Way of Eating (Scribner, 2012). McMillan’s work has been recognized by the Sidney Hillman Book Prize, the James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards, and Investigative Reporters and Editors, among others.

Kat Stafford is the Global Race and Justice Editor at Reuters. She was previously a national investigative writer and global investigations correspondent at The Associated Press, where she investigated how structural racism fueled inequity across America through the lens of politics, government, health, environmental justice and more. Prior to joining the AP, Stafford was an investigative reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Her reporting there prompted city legislation, policy changes, congressional reviews and federal and state investigations. Stafford is a 2021-22 University of Michigan Knight-Wallace Fellowship alumni, where she was the visionary behind an award-winning project that examined how a lifetime of health disparities impact Black Americans from birth to death.

She's a leading voice on representation and equity and leads training sessions on equitable sourcings, structural inequities and racism and investigative journalism for many organizations, including the Ida B. Wells Society, Poynter Institute, the Maynard Institute and several colleges and universities across the nation. She's participated on international panels and events, including the U.S. Embassy Paris, France, the Global Investigative Journalism Network and the International Center for Journalists.

Event address: 
124 E. Washington
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
The White Bonus: Five Families and the Cash Value of Racism in America By Tracie McMillan Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250619426
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Henry Holt and Co. - April 23rd, 2024