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Thick: And Other Essays

4.46  ·  Rating details ·  12,064 ratings  ·  1,592 reviews
Smart, humorous, and strikingly original thoughts on race, beauty, money, and more—by one of today's most intrepid public intellectuals

Tressie McMillan Cottom, the writer, professor, and acclaimed author of Lower Ed, now brilliantly shifts gears from running regression analyses on college data to unleashing another identity: a purveyor of wit, wisdom—and of course Black Tw
Hardcover, 244 pages
Published May 1st 2019 by New Press (first published January 8th 2019)
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Average rating 4.46  · 
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 ·  12,064 ratings  ·  1,592 reviews

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Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Tressie McMillan Cottom’s essay collection Thick: And Other Essays, is thick in every sense of the word. This book is thick with wit and depth and intelligence as McMillan Cottom tackles black womanhood, contextualizing whiteness, beauty in a capitalist society, class mobility and much more. She engages, in fascinating ways, with the forces that bear down upon her from her subject position in prose that effortlessly blends the personal with the theoretical. She articulates a black woman’s work a ...more
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Without a doubt the best book I have read in 2019 thus far, Thick: And Other Essays is thick with wit, intelligence, and an assured self-awareness. Tressie McMillan Cottom addresses many topics within the realm of black womanhood, including beauty standards and whiteness, ethnic differences within the black community, socioeconomic class and assimilating into capitalism, and more. I loved how she always took her analysis one step further, like in her essay about beauty, how she refutes the neoli ...more
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

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This is a really excellent collection of essays written by a black woman on issues that matter for both women and people of color. Better yet, she gives the why behind why she feels that these issues matter, and better still; I liked her whys. Intersectionality is so important, and it was only a few years ago that I realized how many feminist books and books about women's issues omit the issues that plague women of color. Even within ma
Julie Ehlers
Jul 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recently an incoherent commenter accused me of being a "typical Karen" for writing a negative review of Little Fires Everywhere, and although I'll reserve the right not to be called a Karen for disliking a tedious Jodi Picoult knockoff, the fact is that I probably am a Karen in some ways. I'm a white woman in a racist society; how could I not be? We (white people)—no matter how much we educate ourselves, no matter how much activism we engage in—we all have blind spots. And while all types of ant ...more
I liked Thick very much and in fact there were essays here that spoke to me, for me, within me. The writing was quite affecting. Cottom is brash and intense and funny and full of facts. That's what was great about the book. Her commentary was searing and endlessly supported by facts. In this book Cottom talks of what it feels like to be an educated black woman in this America and I gotta tell ya, she knocked it out of the park on most of these essays. Breakdown here:(view spoiler) ...more
Traci at The Stacks
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Holy smart person. Tressie McMillan Cottom is an incredible writer and more importantly thinker. She is connecting dots I’ve not ever seen connected. She is amazing at writing “the turn” in these essays. Also she is narrow in focus in each essay which allows for depth and real interrogation. Also she’s funny, smart funny. That’s important too. I also struggled with reading these essays, the language was so deliberate I had to reread because I would get confused. Not a dig at the author, more an ...more
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jenna by: Kathleen
Gritty, smart, original, Thick is a powerful collection of essays on race and womanhood, especially Black womanhood and the many injustices heaped upon Black women.   Tressie McMillan Cottom shares intimate details of her own life and covers a broad spectrum about her thoughts on racism and white superiority and what is wrong with America today.  It is a collection I both enjoyed and found enlightening.  The voices of Black women are the least heard in America and, as Ms. Cottom illlustrates, th ...more
chantel nouseforaname
Yooooooo Tressie! Tressie! Tressie! SIS!!! SISSSSS!

This whole book rocked my entire world and like just got all up in my feelings and my mind and honestly, it just hit me like a ton of bricks. There's so much important stuff here.
I'm going to buy a copy for my sister-in-law; because I think she should read it. My highlights are all up on this post. So many highlighted segments of just straight, pure truths.

Highlights include: Know Your Whites: no matter how much I love The Obamas, and I LOVE
Valerity (Val)
DNF at 26% I tried repeatedly to get into this book, but its just not my usual kind of book, although a good one, not for me. I have a sleep disorder that knocks me right out if I don't find something gripping, and even on some that I do, so I have to save my reading time for books that I find compelling. Thanks for understanding! ...more
Stacie C
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing

Thick. If that isn’t an apt title for this collection than I don’t know what is, because this is a thick book. Not thick in the amount of pages, but absolutely full of relevant and necessary information. It isn’t curing cancer or solving climate change. But it is giving a voice and analytical eye to the way we treat, judge, measure, love, hate and depict Black women.

I knew after the very first essay in this collection that I was willing to analyze and absorb everything that Cottom had to writ
Jessica Woodbury
I have only one critique of THICK: I would like more of it.

I wanted to read this book as soon as it was announced and could have read an advance copy but once I found out there was an audiobook I waited. I love authors reading their own work and after following Cottom on Twitter for a few years I knew she would deliver. She has.

I do not read many essay collections even though they are having a burst of popularity. Usually when I do they are comedic or a little on the lighter side. It is not that
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: usa, 2019-read
Now a Finalist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction 2019
This was dense and super interesting: Tressie McMillan Cottom, a professor of sociology and public intellectual, writes about the black female experience in postmodern America, and she offers a sharp analysis of various complex phenomena that affect her and many other black women. In eight essays, she tackles topics such as the capitalist logic of beauty, the election of Trump, the vulnerability of black girls and women, the concept o
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
My primary interest in requesting and reading this book was that I felt it might improve my understanding of the black female experience in the U.S., as I am always on the look for the type of works that combine personal narrative and scholarly insight, where the writer will always try to “to refine my analytical concepts without sacrificing my prose.” Not because the data and research added would reinforce and legitimize the personal story, but because it brings into the light a new, different ...more
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, poc-author
Yeah, this was just as fantastic as everyone says it is.
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, non-fiction
Thick is a non-fiction book that straddles the line between academic writing and memoir - something I personally really happen to enjoy. Here McMillan Cottom writes on a variety of topics, often with anecdotal evidence centered into her more academic musings.

This book both suffers and improves for me because McMillan Cottom comes from a similar academic tradition as I do. On the one hand it means that I am bound to agree with a lot of her analyses, on the other hand some of her arguments do lose
Robert Sheard
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
Nope. When you open a collection with the claim that you're writing classical arguments with the goal of persuading people, and then immediately dismiss any potential reader who doesn't think exactly the way you do, you're not persuading; you're giving a sermon. I don't have any illusions that I'm the smartest one in the room, but I did teach rhetoric and argumentation for more than two decades, and coached a crew of national champion debaters, so I'm pretty good at spotting logical flaws in arg ...more
Veronica Moss
Oct 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book of essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom, which gave me a glimpse into the life of Black women and opened up a bunch of engaging conversations with colleagues and friends. Cottom’s essays are accessible, thought-provoking, and full of feminist power. Her writing is witty, often humorous and direct. The essays tackle diverse topics such as beauty, racism, family, politics, culture, status and stereotypes. Recommended read.
Jul 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook, essays
Listening to these riveting essays narrated by the author was an enjoyable treat even though she had me thinking hard. Cottom opened the door and invited me to do some thought shifting about the injustices in our world - especially the injustices against black women. I needed this book and am ready for her next one...
Tiyahna Ridley-Padmore
In Thick: And Other Essays Tressie McMillan Cottom offers powerful social critique about Black exceptionalism through well-researched and well-argued personal essays that reflect on her experience as a Black, thick, Southern intellectual. As a Black woman who recognizes the privilege of her intellect and education, Cottom brings a unique lens to her reflections on beauty, representation, work ethic, academia and girlhood.

When I read the title of this book, Thick , I thought it was going to
What can I possibly add to this conversation of how important this book? Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom's Thick: And Other Essays should be required reading for everyone. This is such important work that dives into life for Black people, especially black womanhood. After finishing each essay I thought "Tressie GETS. IT." This collection is nuanced, poignant and gripping. Each essay is THICK, DEEP and RAW- they deserve to be chewed on, not gobbled up.

While I loved every single essay, I particular
Along the way, I have shared parts of myself, my history, and my identity to make social theory concrete. The things we touch and smell and see and experience through our senses are how stories become powerful. But I have never wanted to only tell powerfully evocative stories. I have wanted to tell evocative stories that become a problem for power.

Cottom calls herself a public intellectual and perhaps that's why every single essay in this book felt like an alternate universe where I had to learn
4.75 Stars - Written with unexpected poetry for such an academic, visceral & clearly well cogitated piece of writing. Reminded me wry much for some reason of last years Axiomatic, one of my favourite reads of all time!

These essays are not for the faint of heart, the emotive narrative & deliberately confronting stylings and raw content force you to face issues of race & subliminal marginalisation in your own reflection, something I’m grateful for and that grabbed me & pulled me around by the scru
Jun 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Cottom’s essays provide a thoughtful perspective on the pervasive racism and misogyny that black women must deal with. For instance, how does a black woman ‘prove’ that she has bruises left by an abuser, when her skin is so dark that it doesn’t show bruises. And yet, our criminal justice system relies on such photographic evidence!

Where are the voices of black women on the opinion pages of major newspapers? Why don’t black women journalists have more followers on social media? Cottom writes elo
Jun 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays, nonfiction
I have racked what little there is of my brain to come up with a worthy review for this collection of essays but I honestly can't come up with anything to do it justice. Roxane Gay's review captures everything that needs to be known about this work. Read it if you haven't please. ...more
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.75+ stars
Thick, indeed.

I ended up skimming one essay and skipping another. There is something about the style or density of McMillan Cottom's writing that was impenetrable.

These are the types of essays that make my eyes glaze over because I am too frivolous to sit still and pay attention long enough to read and digest. Thick is a blend of social commentary and academic writing, and I struggled to make sense of what I was reading. For instance:
"Like whiteness itself, Obama was because Trump i
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the best essay collections I've read in a LONG time. I absolutely loved it. I loved, especially, her essay on beauty standards as a function of the market. Each essay was just so carefully written, dense, complex, and well-thought out, but also very personal and vulnerable. ...more
Never Without a Book
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is one you will want to read. Highly recommended you do.
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“No one can speak to a singular black experience, not even me. Especially not me. Rejecting that belief does not free me, but it goes a long way toward being authentic.”

This essay collection was electric, engaging, and incredibly compelling! The balance of anecdotes and personal perspectives coupled with broader social theory and commentary was a perfect combination and made for a highly readable and thought-provoking read.

The essays cover a range of topics that impact the construction and depic
Michael Livingston
Oct 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Smart and engaging essays on blackness, whiteness, class, power and more - walks the line between academic rigour and accessibility pretty impressively.
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Reading "Thick" made me uncomfortable. It made me squirmingly, hopelessly uncomfortable.
You see, I am a (white) woman who wants to understand. I want to understand how things work, how people work, how our universe works, and I like to think if I study, read and engage others in dialog, someday I might.
But Tressie McMillan Cotton wrote a book that patiently, intelligently explains that it doesn't work that way. No one can ever understand what it means to be what they themselves are not.
She do
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Tressie McMillan Cottom has been called "a master of metaphor" (Soraya McDonald), one of "America's most bracing thinkers on race, gender, and capitalism of our time" (Rebecca Traister) and "one of the finest public intellectuals writing today" (Roxane Gay). McMillan Cottom centers black women in uncommonly incisive analysis of social problems. She lives in Richmond, Virginia where she is an assoc ...more

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There are many ways to take action against racism. Reading in order to learn more about oppression and how to oppose it is just one of those...
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“Beauty is not good capital. I compounds the oppression of gender. It constrains those who identify as women against their will. It costs money and demands money. It colonizes. It hurts. It is painful. It can never be fully satisfied. It is not useful for human flourishing. Beauty is, like all capital, merely valuable.” 22 likes
“Smart is only a construct of correspondence, between one’s abilities, one’s environment, and one’s moment in history.” 11 likes
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