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Tressie McMillan Cottom ponders the shape of America, and the tragedy that shaped her

Not many people in American life cover as much intellectual ground as Tressie McMillan Cottom.

Photo by Chris Charles

She’s a sociologist and a professor at UNC Chapel Hill. Her book “Thick” includes essays on body image, race, gender and culture. She’s a columnist for the New York Times, writing on everything from cryptocurrencies to “The Cosby Show.” She wrote one of the definitive pieces on Dolly Parton. She’s the recipient of one of those MacArthur Foundation “genius grants.”

Whatever room she’s in, she’s likely to be the smartest person in the room.

She’s also funny as hell, down to earth, and enraptured by a little dog named Kirby.

We cover a lot of territory in this episode, from the concept of whiteness to the tragedy that shaped her life. I think you’ll find it enlightening and entertaining.

We go deep right from the beginning, on a matter of crucial importance.

Show notes

Other music in this episode

  • Ketsa, "Beauty Calls"
  • HoliznaPATREON, "Dog Days"

Tommy Tomlinson has hosted the podcast SouthBound for WFAE since 2017. He also does a commentary, On My Mind, which airs every Monday.