Essays. Sociology. Nonfiction. HTML:One of Book Riot's "The Best Books We Read in October 2018" "To say this collection is transgressive, provocative, and brilliant is simply to tell you the truth." â??Roxane Gay, author of Hunger and Bad Feminist Smart, humorous, and strikingly original essays by one of "America's most bracing thinkers on race, gender, and capitalism of our time" (Rebecca Traister) In these eight piercing explorations on beauty, media, money, and more, Tressie McMillan Cottomâ??award-winning professor and acclaimed author of Lower Edâ??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 collectionâ??in all its intersectional gloryâ??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
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Cottom also writes about universitiesâ€™ expectations that black â€śethnicâ€ť students (immigrants or children of immigrants) will do better than U.S. black students, and points out that we are â€śgenerally cherrypicking the winners of extreme social stratification in other countries through our admissions processes.â€ť The most bitterly hilarious part is the essay on why she wants banal black women writers at elite outlets, â€śsince David Brooks wrote 865 words about how gourmet sandwiches are ruining America in the New York effing Times.That was 593 words more than the Gettysburg Address and about 365 words more than we allow poor students to write about their neediness on many scholarship applications.â€ť Otherwise, the great black women intellectuals she knows will continue doing second-, third-, and fourth-shift work to get published in the same places, instead of benefits and a salaryâ€”the bind is that you get exposure but only by contributing to writersâ€™ economic precarity, but that bind is unequally distributed.
Each of the seven chapters takes issue with a specific painful topic for women of color: perceived beauty, the danger of childbirth, entering white spaces, African-Americans vs black immigrants, the lure of status symbols, rape, and David Brooks of the New York Times. The power of her words can feel like a whip across the face, as does how Cottom defines when black women "become a problem" a/k/a speak up and lead movements of change and disruption.
Quotes: "Privileged people feel that it is easier to fix me than to fix the world."
"What pleases us is any technocratic fairytale of how we can network enough to offset unstable employment."
"The paradox of how we could elect Obama AND Trump is not how black Obama is or isn't. It is how white he is, or is not. White voters needed only to have faith in Obama and in his willingness to reflect their ideal selves back at them, to change blackness without being black to them."
"The act of being conservative necessitates an undesirable progress against which it can rebel."
"I had properly signaled that I was not a typical black or a typical woman, two identities that in combination are almost always conflated with being poor."
"R. Kelly was an unlikely crossover artist, mostly based on a horrible song in which he believed he could fly. It is just the type of inspirational, soulless black music that corporations love. It made R. Kelly a safe negro for millions of white consumers while his reputation as a sexual predator was solidifying in black communities."
'We do not share much in the U.S. culture of individualism except our delusions of meritocracy. God help my people, but I can talk to hundreds of black folk who have been systematically separated from their money, citizenship, and personhood and hear at least eighty stories about how no one is to blame but themselves."