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Tracie McMillan in Conversation with Victor Luckerson

In collaboration with Magic City Books, PEN Tulsa is proud to welcome Tracie McMillan to celebrate her new book, The White Bonus: Five Families and the Cash Value of Racism in America. A genre-bending work of journalism and memoir by award-winning writer Tracie McMillan tallies the cash benefit – and cost of – racism in America. Tracie will be joined in conversation by Victor Luckerson, author of Built From the Fire: The Epic Story of Tulsa’s Greenwood District, America’s Black Wall Street.

The White Bonus will be published by Henry Holt and Company on April 23, 2024. Copies of The White Bonus and Built from the Fire by Victor Luckerson will be for sale at the event.

This event is free and open to the public.

About The White Bonus

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 cash value on 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 into the white working class. 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.


Author Tracie McMillan is photographed at her home in Detroit, Michigan, on Thursday, November 30, 2023.
Photo by Sarah Rice

Raised in rural Michigan, Brooklyn-based writer Tracie McMillan has written for publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Mother Jones, Harper’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.


Victor Luckerson is a journalist and author based in Tulsa who works to bring neglected black history to light. He is a former staff writer at The Ringer and a business reporter for Time magazine. His writing and research have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Wired, and Smithsonian. He was nominated for a National Magazine Award for his reporting in Time on the 1923 Rosewood Massacre. He also manages an email newsletter about underexplored aspects of black history called Run It Back.