An innovative, hybrid work of literary nonfiction, Lowest White Boy takes its title from Lyndon Johnson’s observation during the civil rights era: “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket.”
Greg Bottoms writes about growing up white and working class in Tidewater, Virginia, during school desegregation in the 1970s. He offers brief stories that accumulate to reveal the everyday experience of living inside complex, systematic racism that is often invisible to economically and politically disenfranchised white southerners—people who have benefitted from racism in material ways while being damaged by it, he suggests, psychologically and spiritually. Placing personal memories against a backdrop of documentary photography, social history, and cultural critique, Lowest White Boy explores normalized racial animus and reactionary white identity politics, particularly as these are collected and processed in the mind of a child.
About the Author
Greg Bottoms is a professor of English at the University of Vermont. He is the author of many books, including Angelhead: My Brother’s Descent into Madness, The Colorful Apocalypse: Journeys in Outsider Art, and Spiritual American Trash: Portraits from the Margins of Art and Faith.
"Greg Bottoms is one of the most innovative and intriguing nonfiction writers at work, and this is his most powerful book to date, a crucial interrogation of whiteness, white supremacy, and the formation of one American lowest white boy."
Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power
Emily Bernard, author of Black Is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time, and Mine
David Shields, author of Black Planet: Facing Race during an NBA Season
Rebecca McClanahan, author of The Tribal Knot: A Memoir of Family, Community, and a Century of Change