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Tressie McMillan Cottom

I know enough demography to know that I am a statistical outlier. My family is from rural, Eastern North Carolina. You do not have to be familiar to the area to understand that when said that way, “Eastern” connotes a very specific cultural geography: it is the poorer part of the state, most directly marked by European colonialism and slavery, and at the crossroads of regional immigration and economic shockwaves.

There is a geography textbook in my office with a copyright of 1919 and a handwritten inscription on the second blank page: “Property of Eunice McRae”. Eunice was my great-grandmother…


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It’s been a busy week for country music and the post-Black Lives Matter, post-Trump, post-white-nationalists-insurrection America. Country music is having its come to Jesus moment, and proving yet again that their Jesus is a blue eyed white man.

A music form that is aggressively dedicated to being white had to reckon with the presence of race this week, which it really hates doing. The occassion is one of the biggest up-and-coming stars in country, Morgan Wallen, was caught being racist on tape.

In the footage, Wallen looks drunk. He is being loud, obnoxious and likely not for the first time. You can tell because his neighbor starts recording the event. Wallen can be heard saying n*gger, with the hard -er, several times, referring to himself and to his buddies, over and over and over again. What we learn…


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Everywhere I look this week there is a story about how the recent Presidential contest slash white supremacist insurrection slash Trump legacy has torn apart many families. This one from Time magazine is an example:

A poor woman on Twitter last night was crying in response to this similar story, from the Associated Press. It featured a series of gut-wrenching nut graphs like this one:

Democratic voter Rosanna Guadagno, 49, said her brother disowned her after she refused to support Trump four years ago. Last year her mother suffered a stroke, but her brother — who lived in the same…


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by Chioke I’anson

When the news broke on January 6, 2021 that the Capitol was “being besieged”, I was scheduled to be in my home studio. That is where I record my podcast with Roxane Gay, “Hear to Slay”. Oddly enough, the day had started going to, er, pot the moment I woke up. My doctor’s appointment was cancelled as I was in the car on my way. When I returned home, a malfunctioning transformer meant a black-out throughout my neighborhood. I live in a cell phone tower dead zone. When my electricity is out, I am cut off from the outside world…


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Adoja Andoh as Lady Danbury and Regé-Jean Page as Simon, Duke of Hastings in Shonda Rhimes’ “Bridgerton” for Netflix

For seven years or so now, my friend and I have been dishing about why so many Black women love regency-era romance. As it happens, that good friend is also a foremost scholar on race and British Romanticism**. You would love these conversations. Strangers once followed us around a London museum to eavesdrop on these conversations. We have a lot of thoughts as to the why. Whatever the reasons, race and regency is undoubtedly having a *moment*.

As is often the case when Black women are dominating a conversation about television, Shonda Rhimes is at the center. I have previously…


Mark your calendars: I will be in conversation with best-selling author Isabel Wilkerson on January 6 to discuss the legacy of Zora Neale Hurston. Join us for the conversation by signing up here.

3 sketches of models wearing cocktail dresses.
3 sketches of models wearing cocktail dresses.

I wrote a short piece about Lizzo for Harper’s Bazaar this week. I have said it before and it remains true that nothing riles up readers more than beauty. I’m still getting letters from a nearly decade old Miley Cyrus essay and then new letters about “In the Name of Beauty” in my book THICK and then all the angry messages about my thoughts on AOC.

It…


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Photo by Olena Sergienko on Unsplash

People who follow me on @instagram know that I dabble in home design. In a hostile world, I choose to nest as radical praxis. People who follow me on @twitter know that I recently moved into what can best be described as a suburban Disneyland. This is the first time I have encountered holiday decorating as subculture and identity. I am talking animated displays, layered twinkle lights and displays set to music.

I refuse to be caught slipping. I am wrapping my front porch footstools in big bows to match the blinking “JOY” sign. Don’t start none, won’t be none.


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A snapshot of the fight for the new South narrative.

We are living in one of the most generative eras of Southern cultural production since Dolly went pop and Designing Women said “y’all” once a week on network television. From country music to digital and print media, we are trying to figure out the American South…again.

I say “again” because American popular culture has an ongoing, cyclical obsession with the U.S. South. “The South” is a stand-in for how the nation wants to see it itself at any point in time. Debating the morality of Southern cultures is one way that the nation reckons with empire and economics. We are…


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That is how my friend and comedian Brandi put it to me.

Brandi was responding to my drive-by reflection on the latest comedy drama.

Brandi knows how to speak my language. In “Thick”, I have a lot of fun with columnists at elite publications. I use these columnists as a proxy for cultural hegemony. Whether we think they should matter is irrelevant. They do and one of my jobs is figuring out how they matter for different groups of people.The …


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It is that time of the year. I am deep in my Hallmark Christmas movie grind. Between judging the banality of cults of femininity and laughing at Kellie Pickler, I want to make the case for Hallmark movies as feminist* fare.

Like a critical consumer of every Hallmark movie set in Chicago, Canada, you will have to extend me a little grace. The argument turns on one’s idea of feminist.

Hallmark movies are not feminist, except in that vague nonsensical way in which anything with a woman in it is somehow feminist. The scripts trade in every trope of unexamined…

Tressie McMillan Cottom

Sociologist. Writer. Professor. MacArthur Fellow. Books, speaking, podcast: www.tressiemc.com

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