Rick Bragg is one of my favorite Southern writers. A Pulitzer Prize winner and former correspondent for the New York Times, Bragg owns one of the most memorable voices I’ve ever heard. Last month, I was reading Somebody Told Me, a collection of his newspaper stories, when I came across his definition of survivor. Although he’s not explicitly referring to breast cancer survivors (a phrase I’ve always disliked), his explanation of why he chose to use the word survivor instead of victim hit home with me:
At first I wanted to call this chapter “Victims,” but that cheapened the people I wrote about. I decided on “Survivors” because so many of the people herein were seized by an outside force, terrified or damaged, and let loose to try and live again. I like these people because of their backbone. I do not mind that some of them became haters. Some of them had a right.