Reading ‘American Dirt’ Completely Changed My Perspective of the Immigration Crisis…Then I Read About The Controversy.

Valerie Michaels
8 min readMay 6, 2020

And that’s when I really learned something.

Oprah drawing attention to an amazing work of fiction and coming under fire from the Hispanic authors community.

It wasn’t until I had finished devouring American Dirt and was on to the author’s forward, eager to learn more about how this tale had come into the world, when I realized this was the book getting so much negative press a few months ago. In general, I scroll by news that relates to “cancel culture” or “outrage” over someone’s success or attention with an eye roll. My thinking is that both parties on either side are looking for said attention and my version of cancel culture means that they both cancel each other out and don’t represent an honest discourse. This stems from 15 years as an entertainment publicist shrugging off attempts to ascertain my opinion on who stole what from who or who’s idea it was first. Something like what Jessie Eisenberg said as Mark Zuckerberg in ‘The Social Network’, “If you’d invented Facebook, you would have invented Facebook.”

“You have part of my attention-you have the minimum amount.”

If I have to make a decision, I tend to lean towards the person who got it out, because I know that’s the hardest part. Lots of great ideas and amazing stories never go anywhere. On the flip of that, the people who are able to make things happen usually have at least one element of their personality that’s repulsive or grabby. Society rewards that and I don’t have time to remake society so I stay out of the fray. Which is why I was so surprised about my burning desire to address this book here and open myself up to some criticism. Unfortunately, I just have to know what all the fuss is about on this one. Especially because the opposition chose, of all people, Oprah, to call out for her… racism?

What I’ll get as a non-hispanic asking questions about why some hispanics are upset about a book about the plight of hispanic immigrants.

Reading is my preferred method of learning, its how I absorb and retain information. I read a lot, I do not watch news, and I consider myself moderate, able to see both sides. The arrival of news apps and platforms like Medium were a watershed moment for…

Valerie Michaels

Media entrepreneur and documentary film producer Instagram: @mizzzmichaels