So, how do I describe this book, to have you all get it and read it? Probably it’s not enough if I say this might be the book that I’ll look back on in the end of 2019, and that it will have had the biggest impact on me. Maybe if I tell you that I rarely (virtually) underline sentences in books, and here I kept highlighting things. Societal analysis and critique:
How is it that we have laid bodies down in streets, challenged patriarchy in courts, bled for fair wages and still inequalities persist? The easiest answer is that racism and sexism and class warfare are resilient and necessary for global capitalism.
And beautiful imagery like:
But my soul remembers my grandmother’s memories.
On the website of the book, the following is written:
WELCOME TO THICK
A Community for Team Too Much.
A friend once told me that I was “extra.” She joined the teacher who called me “Ms. Personality,” the men who called me “thick” and a world that penalizes black women who are too much of one thing and not enough of another. Because the universe has a sense of humor, richly-layered lives generate the nuanced theories of change that we all desperately need.
THICK celebrates complex lives, nuanced ideas, and hard answers to complicated questions. And, it is a celebration because what could be better than taking up space in a world that shrinks the best of humanity to its lowest common denominator.
Take up space. It is our birthright.
‘Thick – and other essays’ consists of 8 essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom. I needed time between reading them because they were intense. Not all the same kind of intense, but reading about racism and sexism and how they all intersect, and how black women in particular are systematically pushed out of the public space of the world, is just a harsh reality to read about.
The essays “In the Name of Beauty” and “Black Girlhood, Interrupted” hit home the most. The first because of how she writes about a experience she had after writing a piece in which she calls herself ugly, that created a massive backlash, mostly from within the community of black women. She then analysis why she wrote what she wrote, using an framework of embedding beauty in capitalism, and intersecting this with race in how beauty is always white, and heteronormativity, and also touching upon the influence of social media. Woah! The other essay hit me, because reading on sexual assault (a definite content warning for that one) is always hard for me. It also shows how pervasive rape culture is, seemingly especially so within black communities. And how common it is for women to experience sexual assault in some way, shape or form. This is something I knew before reading this, but it brought this point home, again.
The book also challenged me. As a European white human, well versed in feminism, but less well versed in issues of race, I felt I lacked context sometimes. I don’t know exactly if that’s mostly because I’m white, or because I’m European. I guess it’s a combination. I guess that many people reading this, are also white and European. Don’t let this stop you, but let it encourage you to read it. Did I tell you already I love this book and that you should definitely read it?