The White Bonus: Five Families and the Cash Value of Racism in America (Hardcover)
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.
"The White Bonus buckles and snaps everything I thought I knew about race, space, place and bookmaking. This is what courage and absolute genius produce. We have never needed a book more than we need Tracie McMillan's The White Bonus."
—Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy