ICYMI: Oprah Winfrey Wants ‘All Sides’ To Discuss Controversial Book Club Pick, ‘American Dirt’

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Jan 29, 2020

Less than a week after Oprah Winfrey announced that author Jeanine Cummins’ new book “American Dirt” was her latest book club selection—and many, many Latinx social media users said this was problematic—Winfrey took to Instagram on January 26 to respond. "There’s been a lot of talk about this book, lately,” the media mogul said before diving into the controversy.

The backlash came from many in the Latinx community who took issue with Cummins and wondered why Oprah didn’t choose a Latinx author’s book about the Latinx experience. Cummins’ novel tells the story of a Mexican family seeking asylum in the United States to escape violence, but critics say that she fetishizes what immigrant families actually endure. 

In response, Winfrey first reiterated how riveted she was by the book’s narrative style. Then she acknowledged the critiques, saying:

Now, it has become clear to me, from the outpouring, may I say, of very passionate opinions, that this selection has struck an emotional chord and created a need for a deeper, more substantive discussion. I’ve spent the past few days listening to members of the Latinx community to get a greater understanding of their concerns, and I hear them. I do.

To foster dialogue around “who gets to publish what stories,” Winfrey said she will bring people together “from all sides” to discuss their concerns on a program that will stream in March on Apple TV+.

Watch Winfrey’s response via Instagram: