Survivor’s Guilt: Essays on Race and American Identity


Updated Second Edition Available Soon!

“In this volume of over a dozen essays, the author—whose award-winning poetry has appeared in multiple anthologies, collections, and journals—blends autobiography with biting social and political commentary on themes centered on racial trauma, sexuality, gender, and class.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Naming the beast is the first part of the battle. Survivor’s Guilt: Essays on Race and American Identity is a reader’s guide to shifting from silent abuser to empathetic ally.”
Independent Book Review

“Talk about the right time to find a story . . . My copy arrived two months after

Breonna Taylor was shot in her bed, three weeks after the first arrests for the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, four days after the world watched George Floyd’s murder on video; in other words, right when the world finally seemed to wake up to the reality of race in America.”
Mom Egg Review

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Survivor’s Guilt is an urgent and honest look at one of the most important topics of our time. White is an eloquent storyteller and a deep thinker. She uses her personal life, family history, and teaching experience as a springboard for a wide ranging discussion of race in America today. These essays are unflinching yet ultimately hopeful. This is one of the wisest books I have read in a long time.” —Sharon Harrigan, author of Playing with Dynamite: A Memoir (Truman State University Press, 2017)

“Artress Bethany White has written a bold, beautiful book that shimmers with bravery on every page. In tackling race, she interrogates and informs, startles and prods, and implicates us all—forcing us to see ourselves through multi-faceted prisms of American identity. Using personal and familial narratives from her own ‘tangled racial threads’ as our intimate guide, White helps us understand this traumatized cultural moment by weaving together harsh truths with poetic language and fierce insight. We need this book right now. White shares an astute pedagogy here, one that acknowledges our collective mourning and provides a prescriptive for our collective healing. I want everyone to read this brilliant collection. I especially want Survivor’s Guilt gifted to all 12th graders, as well as those who teach them, those who will teach them, and those who parent them—so that we all might survive this moment.” —Bridgett M. Davis, author of The World According To Fannie Davis: My Mother’s Life In The Detroit Numbers

“In Survivor’s Guilt: Essays on Race and American Identity, Artress Bethany White offers her personal take on some of the most important issues facing the country today. But rather than tackle political policy or electoral politics, White opens a family album and reflects upon what the nation’s failure to recon with its history has meant for her ancestors’ and her past, as well as her own, her husband’s, and their children’s present and future. If you have been looking for a hearfelt, well-informed, but gentle entry into contemporary thinking about racial concerns—from the legacy of lynching, to the challenges of interracial marriage, to the complexities of class within the black community—you have found your guide.” —Exie Shockley, author of Semiautomatic