[Libs-Or] "American Dirt" and the Social Justice Warriors

Diedre Conkling diedre08 at gmail.com
Mon Feb 3 23:08:47 PST 2020

I’m really not qualified to address all of the issues related to this
book.  I am wondering if people saw this.  ‪

Today, #DignidadLiteraria & Presente.org won an unprecedented commitment
from the leadership of Macmillan Books to transform their publishing
practices to include substantial increases in Latinx titles & staff,
company wide. Read our full statement —#DignidadLiteraria ‬

Go to this Facebook page for the full statement:

On Mon, Feb 3, 2020 at 10:39 PM Tony Greiner <tony_greiner at hotmail.com>

> Librarianship is in danger of losing one of its foundations- that no one
> can tell you what you can read, or what you can write.  Let's not let that
> slip away.  As I hope you know, Jeanine Cummins' new novel *American
> Dirt, *which tells the story of a middle-class Mexican woman suddenly
> reduced to refugee status, has been the subject of attacks from those who
> want to silence any voice or story they do not approve of. These attacks
> are not primarily on the quality of the book, but on the idea that a white
> American woman dare write a fictional story about Mexicans. The censors,
> and the threats of violence from their supporters have led to the
> cancellation of Cummin's book tour, including an appearance at Powells.
> Paired with that bigotry, the idea that a writer should be silenced if her
> characters don't match her skin color has been given serious hearings in
> the media. To my knowledge, only the wise and big-hearted Oprah WInfrey has
> taken the position that the book should be viewed on its merits, and last I
> heard, she was still planning on featuring the book on one of her programs.
> That said, the advocates of silencing others have tasted victory in
> cancelling the book tour. They may choose to continue their campaign of
> censorship by calling for removal of the book from library shelves. With
> that real possibility in mind (and given the silence from the American
> Library Association, which has chosen to look the other way,) I offer this
> defense that librarians may choose to take against the censors.  It is a
> list of books with white protagonists written by famous people of color.
>  (Some of the titles on this list were found in the research of Robert
> Fikes, a librarian at San Diego State University, and Martin Japtok of
> Palomar College.) If the censors assert that a white woman should not write
> fiction about a Mexican woman, then ask them if they wish to censor these
> authors as well.  Included is a thought from a better writer and thinker
> than I can ever hope to be.
> Tony Greiner
> * “No human culture is inaccessible to someone who makes the effort to
> understand, to learn, to inhabit another world”- Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
> Novels with a protagonist of one race or culture written by an author of
> another race or culture: Nobel Laureate John Steinbeck:  Tortilla Flat; The
> Pearl. Nobel Laureate Pearl Buck:  Good Earth, and others. Buck has also
> been a target of race-based criticism, but she spoke Cantonese, and her
> work has been praised by Anchee Min. There is a statue of her in Nanjing,
> China.   Nobel Laureate Kazuo Ishiguro.  Remains of the Day.  David
> Guterson. Snow Falling on Cedars. Winner of the Pen/Faulkner award for
> Fiction, 1995. Dubose Heyward. Porgy. Praised by Langston Hughes, who said
> that  Heyward's  brings "with his white eyes, wonderful, poetic qualities
> in the inhabitants of Catfish Row that makes them come alive." This book is
> the basis for George Gershwin’s opera “Porgy and Bess.”  "Porgy and Bess"
> has had some criticism, but was also praised by Duke Ellington and recorded
> by many black jazz musicians. Gershwin’s will stipulates that the opera may
> only be produced with a black cast. James Patterson.  A series of detective
> novels featuring Alex Cross. James Baldwin.  Short Story: “The Man Child.”
> Ann Petry.  Country Place. Petry isn’t well known now, but her first novel,
> The Street, (set in Harlem) was the first novel by an African-American
> woman to sell 1,000,000 copies.  Richard Wright. Savage Holiday. Wright’s
> novel about an insurance executive has no black characters.  Zora Neale
> Hurston. Seraph on the Suwanee. This novel looks at the life of poor white
> ‘crackers’ in Florida. *
> * Paul Lawrence Dunbar.  Dunbar, better known as a poet, had two novels
> with only white characters, The Uncalled (1898) and The Love of Landry
> (1900) a western. *
> **tony_greiner at hotmail.com**
*Diedre Conkling*
*diedre08 at gmail.com* <diedre08 at gmail.com>

“If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change
your attitude.”―Maya Angelou
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