Tressie McMillan Cottom

"There is not a single global, national, or local condition to which black women's intellectual, spiritual, and emotional intelligences cannot be trusted to bring greater clarity."

Tressie McMillan Cottom is an award-winning author, researcher, educator, and cultural critic whose work has been recognized nationally and internationally for the urgency and depth of her incisive critical analysis of technology, higher education, class, race, and gender.

The foundation for Tressie’s first book, Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy, was formed by dissertation research for her doctorate from Emory University’s Laney Graduate School. In Lower Ed, Tressie questions the fundamental narrative of American education policy. Carol Anderson calls Lower Ed, “nuanced, carefully argued, and engagingly written.”

Tressie’s 2019 collection Thick: and Other Essays  has been described as “essential,” and the Chicago Tribune calls Tressie, “the author you need to read now.” Dorothy Roberts compares reading it to “holding a mirror to your soul and to that of America.” Thick was the winner of the Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize and was a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award.

In 2020, Tressie was named a MacArthur Fellow. The MacArthur Foundation says her work, “combines analytical insights and personal experiences in a frank, accessible style of communication that resonates with broad audiences within and outside of academia.” She is an associate professor in the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life (UNC). Tressie also co-hosts Hear to Slay with Roxane Gay, a podcast with an intersectional perspective on celebrity, culture, politics, art, life, love, and more.

Tressie lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina where she supports radically progressive local candidates for public office, the Richmond Community Bail Fund, and removing memorials to oppressive racist fictions.


Think on This: Tressie McMillan Cottom


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