UPDATE: American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

I feel it is important to share an update on this book. I posted a review in April of this year and, because I can not edit a published post (or am just not tech savvy enough to figure out how), I want am posting an update as a separate post.

However, that update is going to be at the end of this post. Before I tout my opinions and express my feelings, I want everyone reading this to first see the names, organizations, and businesses of people who know better than me and deserve everyone’s attention and support.

OWNVOICES BOOKS ABOUT IMMIGRATION:

The Devil’s Highway by Luís Alberto Urrea

Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli

Mean by Myriam Gurba (Gurba reviews American Dirt on Tropics of Meta. Here: “Pendeja, You Ain’t Steinbeck: My Bronca with Fake-Ass Social Justice Literature”)

Dominicana by Angie Cruz

The Affairs of the Falcons by Melissa Rivero

Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera

Unaccompanied by Javier Zamora

The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande

Another great book that focuses on the role that immigrants play in American cities after they’ve made the long, hard journey here is Barrio America by Sandoval-Strausz.


Please also consider giving some time and attention to these organizations and businesses that are operated by members of the latin community and/or work to promote equality for America’s latinx community.

Bookstores / publishing groups:

Lil Libros

The Lit Bar

Latin American Bookstore

Latinx in Publishing

Tía Chucha’s

La Casa Azul

Shopping:

Viva La Bonita

Millenial Loteria

Nalgona Positive Shop

Horchateria

Organizations:

MALDEF

ALPFA

NALEO Education Fund

VotoLatino

CPLC


There is a lot of hate for this book and, while I am not someone who can fully understand or speak directly to the reasons why this hate has generated, I can provide a source for information that is relevant and acknowledge where I can improve in the future.

There is a phenomenal post by instagram user @tomesandtexttiles. Her post was put up on January 21st and covers reasons why American Dirt is not the representation of migration that it was marketed to be. She also provides book suggestions from writers that have accurate and honest depictions of immigration. [I am mentioning this post because this was the one that opened the floodgates of information for me. I am in no way affiliated with @tomesandtexttiles but believe that it is necessary to credit those who have spoken out and actively changed the minds of people who were not aware of how the impacts of their actions and opinions.]

Additionally, I have provided links to books that I plan to read in order to supplement my understanding of what the immigration journey is really like and broadening my education on life and experiences of people who live in or have come from Latin America (above).* Next to each, I have tried to provide the links to the author’s platforms and I encourage everyone to take a look at their websites or social media for more information. Because, if we can’t understand these experiences ourselves, we should be listening to the people who can.

I am disappointed in myself for not considering whether or not elements in this book were promoting stereotypes of Mexican migrants. However, I believe that not questioning this at all has provided me insight into the way I read stories about people who do not look like me or identify the way I do. I hope that this acknowledgment will help me improve the way I support people of color in literature.

Finally, I believe that those who have spoken out against American Dirt for promoting stereotypes that are not accurate representations of their cultures or journeys are valid and need to be heard. I have to thank American Dirt for opening my eyes to this issue in the first place. Sadly, I don’t think I would’ve dug deeper into this topic had it not been for the huge hubbub about this book to begin with. So, while Cummins angered a lot of people with her book, the controversy around it has led me to question my allyship and actions – I am grateful for that. I am most grateful for the people who spoke up when they were angered, unsatisfied, or saddened by this book – to all of you, thank you.

*I want to make another point here. I have traditionally relied on Amazon when providing links to books I post about. I can’t promise to NEVER use Amazon again but I will ALWAYS make a point from here on out to provide links to bookstores that need support, that are conducting appropriate business practices, and that give more prominent platforms to the authors they feature.

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