Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom

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 marginalized groups, there are degrees of privilege, and that is something that Cottom talks a lot about in here-- at length-- among other stirring and relevant topics.

Cottom is a passionate writer, and a capable one. Her prose flows smoothly, leading you from one concept to the next, and it's like being guided down a river of ideas. She writes the way a lot of my favorite textbook writers wrote in college, and you can really feel the academia. You can also feel the outrage, and the electric power of her words. I liked that, too. Her writing was complex and emotive and clear; a hard balance to manage, but compelling.

Some of the things that she writes about are race, misogyny, sexuality, fetishization, Donald Trump's election, Obama's election, privilege, beauty, impostor syndrome, social echo chambers, equality vs. justice (although she does not refer to it as such), academia, colorism, and culture, and how these apply specifically to people of color, especially to people who identify as black (although anyone can learn from these essays). I picked this up because Roxane Gay reviewed it, and I like Roxane Gay, but after reading this collection, I think I might like Tressie McMillan Cottom more. Mind blown.

I saw a couple of people who clearly felt very uncomfortable after reading this. I think that might be a good thing, though. It's like ripping off a band-aid-- it's always unpleasant to realize that things that come easily for you and that you previously took for granted are a struggle for others; and that by merely taking advantage of and enjoying these things, you are contributing-- maybe unintentionally, maybe subconsciously-- to a system that continues to perpetuate injustice and inequality. Either this book will give you something to relate to and feel empowered by, or it will make you think hard and give you something to learn from. I call that a win-win, personally.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

4 out of 5 stars

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