TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Oprah broke her silence Sunday on the controversy surrounding one of the books in her book club, written by Towson University alumna Jeanine Cummins.
She posted an Instagram video responding after days of debate over the newly released book.READ MORE: COVID Outbreaks At Baltimore-Area Schools Raises Concerns For Parents
“It’s clear that we need to have a different kind of conversation about American Dirt and we welcome everyone’s thoughts and opinions in our community.” the caption read.
Though Cummins’ book made the Oprah Winfrey Book Club List, it has sparked backlash since its release, specifically from the Latinx community.
American Dirt is a novel describing the ordeal of a Mexican woman who had to leave behind her life and escape as an immigrant to U.S. with her son.
The author Jeanine Cummins appeared on CBS This Morning with Oprah to talk about the book on the day of its release.
She said during the appearance that she’d gotten the blessing of a one-time chair of the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies at San Diego State University who had said to her, “Jeanine, we need every voice we can get telling this story.”
Author Julissa Arce Raya wrote about the book on Twitter: “As a Mexican immigrant, who was undocumented, I can say with authority that this book is a harmful, stereotypical, damaging representation of our experiences. Please listen to us when we tell you, this book isn’t it.”
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#Americandirt is now an @oprahsbookclub selection. As a Mexican immigrant, who was undocumented, I can say with authority that this book is a harmful, stereotypical, damaging representation of our experiences. Please listen to us when we tell you, this book isn’t it.
— Julissa Arce Raya (@julissaarce) January 21, 2020
But Oprah praised the book on CBS This Morning and called it unique.
“I was in from the very first sentence.” Winfrey said.
“It was a visceral experience for me,” She later said in the Instagram post. “A migrant story being told from a mother’s perspective about the lengths that she would go to, to get to freedom in America.”
In the video, Winfrey explains she read an advance copy of the book last summer.
“I was deeply moved, it had me riveted from the very first sentence and I could hardly wait, really, to share it with all of you,” she said. “Now, it has become clear to me from the outpouring of, 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.”
She said she has spent the last few days listening to members of the Latinx community to “get a greater understanding of their concerns.”
“I hear them, I do,” she assured. “So, what I want to do is bring people together from all sides to talk about this book and who gets to publish what stories, and I’m hoping that that is going to resonate with many of you and your concerns.”MORE NEWS: Baltimore Firefighter Unions Say Firefighter Safety Act Could Prevent Them From Doing Their Jobs
The discussion will stream on AppleTV+ in March.