Posted by Troy Seefried, Fiction Editor for 8.2
If you’ve heard about American Dirt, then you’ve heard about the controversy surrounding the story. Jeanine Cummins is a white-identified author who tells the story of a Mexican woman who escapes Mexico and attempts to immigrate to the United States for the safety of her family. While an emotionally compelling book, many are arguing that she doesn’t have the cultural license to tell this story.
The conversation taking place in today’s literary world is based around the question: Can we write outside of ourselves? Considering the story itself, a first-person narrative of a Mexican woman fleeing her home country, some, including myself (a member of the Mexican-American community), will say that this is a story reserved for the LatinX or Mexican literary community. Not to say it can only be told for them, but it should be written by them. In my opinion, this is absolutely a story that should be shared with the masses. It’s especially important to learn about the lives of undocumented immigrants at this time . It’s important that we learn about them, hear from them, and then as a society strive to better the system and find a solution. But is Jeanine Cummins, a white-identified author allowed to tell this story?