There’s been a lot of controversy around author Jeanine Cummins’ book American Dirt and its inaccurate and stereotypical depiction of Mexican immigrants. It’s also highlighted the unbearable whiteness of the publishing industry, which is why a lot of folks were disappointed when Oprah included the novel as her latest book club pick. But it appears that Oprah heard us. The iconic queen of talk told followers of her Book Club that after days of listening to the controversy surrounding the book American Dirt, she will be hosting a panel to discuss both sides of the issue.
“When I first started to hear your comments opposing the selection, I was asking the question in earnest, like what is offensive? I have spent the past few days listening to the Latinx community to get a better understanding of their concerns, and I hear them,” Oprah said on Instagram.
She said she will be streaming a conversation on Apple TV to hear from both sides — people who disagree with the book and those who like it. The program will air in March.
What will be interesting to see is who will be on this panel. Oprah’s tapped conversation must include the controversial novelist Jeanine Cummins, who wrote American Dirt, and writer Myriam Gurba who informed everyone about the stereotypes in the book which she wrote about in her review that went viral.
Aside from discussing who is allowed to tell these stories — which wasn’t really the issue — is the talk regarding publishers and Latinx authors that are underrepresented.
“Aren’t we all a bit tired of white people telling us what is and isn’t ok? If these are gatekeepers of what gets published, it is imperative that we recognize their implicit biases. How exactly do white people gauge what is an authentic immigrant story and what is not? In the context of this book, it seems that the worth of the book has been equated with packaging Mexican suffering as a must-buy thriller,” HipLatina contributing writer, Yvette Montoya wrote.
We also hope Oprah addresses the fact that her Book Club doesn’t feature Latinx writers. Cristina Jimenez launched the campaign, “Oprah: Add More Latinx and Immigrant Authors to Your Book Club in 2020!”
She writes, “Right now, only 4 of the 83 authors in Oprah’s Book Club are Latinx, including Jeanine Cummins. We believe it’s critical that authors who are intimately familiar with immigration and race have their work be read. We urge Oprah’s Book Club to include more Latinx and immigrant writers in 2020 that are writing from personal experiences and challenging the status quo.”
We’re very thrilled that all the discussion on social media and in the media is being addressed by Oprah, we just hope that the issue is also addressed respectfully by all.