Discussion Post – American Dirt

If you’re unfamiliar with the conversation and drama surrounding the book, American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins, I recommend clicking on the link below or google search it.

Slate Article: Why Everyone’s Talking About American Dirt

I have a hard time formulating my thoughts without my emotions crowding important points, when discussing representation and its importance in all creative mediums. The American Dirt Controversy is no different. But instead of writing a long thesis with points to prove my argument. I’m just gonna say it like it is. 

LatinX and Mexican-American writers and reviewers have rebuked the stereotypes presented in American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. Thus, I will not support this book. In other words, I don’t plan on reading it.

As a first generation American to Jamaican immigrants, I have a unique lens with how I view these stories and conversations. And all I could think as stories and reviews erupted against American Dirt, which is written by a woman who does not identify as Mexican, is;

I’d be pissed as hell if a non-Jamaican decided to write a book about migrating to the United States from Jamaica.

Fiction or not. There’s a unique experience and nuance that I believe would be missed. And there are generalizations and stereotypes about Jamaicans that would probably be more prevalent to/in the story. In other words, more fiction than fact. And that precise fiction, would be debilitating to my people and the struggles they face when going through the immigration process in the U.S. Especially in today’s climate, when a president can refer to countries with an overwhelming majority of marginalized people as “shit-hole” countries.

And so, although I think it’s important for stories like this to be told, I don’t want it from someone who isn’t experiencing it OR who is willing to prop up stereotypes to gain emotion and conviction from someone who’s privileged enough not to experience this, at all. 

With that being said, I do not believe in bashing people who enjoyed the book. That is your opinion and you’re welcome to have it.

But please, as some of you spout off about open dialogue, understand that people on the other side are hurt. Hurt that a story like this can be offered a seven-figure book deal while own voices writers, who write about their own personal struggle, that is, arguably, even more informative, aren’t . And we’re fed up! Dialogue is necessary, yes. But if you are incapable of even an ounce of empathy to this particular type of anger, then what’s the point of discourse.