Book Notes: Thick: And Other Essays

Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom
Read Nov 30, 2021 - Dec 5, 2021

Thick is a collection of essays previously published elsewhere. The topics are varied and sketch out a broad analysis of the ongoing fuck-ups in our society.

McMillan Cottom writes about racism, beauty, class, whiteness, productivity culture, and more. Her writing is sharp and witty, wise and readable, and shot through with autobiographical details that give her insights more power and texture. One of my favorite contemporary writers, currently newslettering at the NYT.

Book Highlights

Black girls and black women are problems. That is not the same thing as causing problems. We are social issues to be solved, economic problems to be balanced, and emotional baggage to be overcome.

I had come so far that I could be considered a problem. It is an honor of sorts.

Smart is only a construct of correspondence, between one’s abilities, one’s environment, and one’s moment in history.

That is because beauty isn’t actually what you look like; beauty is the preferences that reproduce the existing social order.

Systems of exchange tend to generate the kind of ideas that work well as exchanges.

I am not the only one in love with the idea of competence. It is a neoliberal pipe dream that generates no end of services, apps, blogs, social media stars, thought leaders, and cultural programming, all promising that we can be competent.

Productivity tools promise you control where the political economy says you cannot have any.

Duality can breed insight, but it can also breed delusion.

Political theorist Corey Robin understands the history of the conservative right in the United States as a search for a fight, because the act of being conservative necessitates an undesirable progress against which it can rebel.

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