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SouthBound replay: Tressie McMillan Cottom explores deep American issues both public and personal

Today's episode is a replay of our summer 2023 conversation with Tressie McMillian Cottom. Not many people in American life cover as much intellectual ground as she does.


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.

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