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To: Oprah's Book Club
Oprah: Add More Latinx and Immigrant Authors to Your Book Club in 2020!
In light of American Dirt’s inclusion in Oprah’s Book Club, we call on Oprah to add more Latinx and immigrant authors, including those who are undocumented, to the roster in 2020.
Why is this important?
UPDATE: Oprah has responded by saying that she will hold a panel that will stream on Apple TV showing “both sides” of this issue. We urge Oprah to add an immigrant author or cultural strategist to her panel to ensure that our community has a seat at the table.
For years, Oprah’s Book Club has elevated storytellers of diverse racial backgrounds to new heights.
That’s why the inclusion of a novel written by an author who identifies as white, and who only recently redefined herself as Latina to coincide with the release of her new novel about a Mexican mother fleeing cartel violence, has created outrage online among people of color and fans of Oprah’s Book Club.
Jeanine Cummins, author of "American Dirt," is unfamiliar with the lived experiences of immigrants, and in 2015 expressed discomfort in writing about race because she is white, yet the publisher notes she pursued this novel to “give these people [Latinxs] a face.”
Latinx and immigrant writers, including those who are currently undocumented, exist.
We believe in giving agency to the storytellers who are closest to the pain. It takes visionary creatives to celebrate our whole selves, spark joy, and heal as a nation.
Frequently, mainstream narratives about the Latinx and immigrant community — both fiction and non-fiction — narrowly position us as criminals or neurosurgeons with little space in between. We become ‘the other,’ leading to guilt, shame, or pressure to live up to an impossible standard.
What’s worse, narratives that dehumanize or stereotype Latinxs, immigrants, and the countries that our families hail from become ammunition to target us with harmful policies.
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.