Thick

And Other Essays

Smart, humorous, and strikingly original essays by one of “America’s most bracing thinkers on race, gender, and capitalism of our time” (Rebecca Traister)

“To say this collection is transgressive, provocative, and brilliant is simply to tell you the truth.” —Roxane Gay, author of Hunger and Bad Feminist

In these eight piercing explorations on beauty, media, money, and more, Tressie McMillan Cottom—award-winning professor and acclaimed author of Lower Ed—embraces her venerated role as a purveyor of wit, wisdom, and Black Twitter snark about all that is right and much that is wrong with this thing we call society.

Ideas and identity fuse effortlessly in this vibrant collection that on bookshelves is just as at home alongside Rebecca Solnit and bell hooks as it is beside Jeff Chang and Janet Mock. It also fills an important void on those very shelves: a modern black American feminist voice waxing poetic on self and society, serving up a healthy portion of clever prose and southern aphorisms as she covers everything from Saturday Night Live, LinkedIn, and BBQ Becky to sexual violence, infant mortality, and Trump rallies. Thick speaks fearlessly to a range of topics and is far more genre-bending than a typical compendium of personal essays.

An intrepid intellectual force hailed by the likes of Trevor Noah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Oprah, Tressie McMillan Cottom is “among America’s most bracing thinkers on race, gender, and capitalism of our time” (Rebecca Traister). This stunning debut collection—in all its intersectional glory—mines for meaning in places many of us miss, and reveals precisely how the political, the social, and the personal are almost always one and the same.

Praise

“These essays show us the potency of actually existing black feminist analysis and expose the deep structures of racism and inequality that shape most black women’s lives. With biting humor and razor-sharp political clarity, Thick is a crucial contribution to contemporary black thought.”
—Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation
“Black women are uniquely attuned to the hydra that bell hooks names the imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. Publics should trust black women. Thick proves why readers should trust Tressie McMillan Cottom’s black-people-loving writing that is as deft as it is amusing. Her words are a sword. She comes out swinging her blade at the hydra’s head with unmatched courage.”
—Darnell L. Moore, author of No Ashes in the Fire
“Reading Thick is like holding a mirror to your soul and to that of America. [S]earingly intimate and astute . . . at once painfully honest and gloriously affirming.”
—Dorothy Roberts, author of Killing the Black Body
Thick is aptly named, for McMillan Cottom is no intellectual lightweight—she walks heavy, bringing together her singular sociological insights with compelling and relatable storytelling.”
—Brittney Cooper, author of Eloquent Rage
Thick is gorgeous, incisive, and hard. Tressie McMillan Cottom is among America’s most bracing thinkers on race, gender, and capitalism of our time and she is at her very best here. These essays enlighten and complicate and push conversations further. They are blisteringly smart and beautifully written. They are also, simply, a pleasure to read.”
—Rebecca Traister, author of Good and Mad and All the Single Ladies
“To say this collection is transgressive, provocative, and brilliant is simply to tell you the truth. Thick is a necessary work and a reminder that Tressie McMillan Cottom is one of the finest public intellectuals writing today.”
—Roxane Gay, author of Hunger and Bad Feminist
“Rich with layers of meaning . . . blaaaaaack and southern and country and wise [and] pulsates with wit, self-awareness, and unabashed expertise. For Professional Smart People with sense, her writing is #goals.”
—Soraya McDonald, culture critic at The Undefeated

Books by Tressie McMillan Cottom

Lower Ed
The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy

Tressie McMillan Cottom