Eva Longoria on American Dirt: “I will not read the book…”

Longoria BELatina Latinx Cummings American Dirt

The controversy surrounding Jeanine Cummins’ book seems to be going on and on.

After her work triggered a wave of criticism on social networks — which even led to the suspension of the book’s promotional tour — there are still those who speak out against what is now considered the most controversial literary compendium of Latino stereotypes in recent years.

But for actress and businesswoman Eva Longoria, the conflict goes beyond that. On a panel at a “Defining Women” brunch held by Emily’s List in Beverly Hills, the actress said without hesitation: “I have not read the book. I will not read the book.”

“It’s just parallel and synonymous with what’s happening in entertainment, what’s happening in government,” she said according to an InStyle report. “The gatekeepers of the industries do not reflect the people and the consumers that they serve. … That’s the problem.”

My colleague Marcela Davison Aviles had spoken about this previously in her note for BELatina, highlighting the strategy that advocates for Latino representation in publishing undertook to make this point clear to anyone following the American Dirt publication and ensuing controversy:

“The organizers knew beforehand about the timing of the book’s publication, so they formed a small and smart group consisting of respected and influential writers/advisors with their own clout in Latino storytelling, they leveraged their own talents as writers, and they rallied support in social media before they pulled the advocacy trigger. Importantly, their messaging is CCT — continuous, consistent, and tenacious.”

With Longoria’s personal admission, the fact that one of the most important activists for the fair representation of Latinos in all spheres is also demonstrating against Cummins’ book is further proof that, from now on, there will be no more room for stigma.

“What made me really upset was when the publisher said, ‘We had to cancel the book tour because of safety concerns,’ which made my community look like we’re crazy people going to cause trouble,” she added. “We’re not. We’re just being outspoken about the inaccuracies of what this book represents.”

Echoing the anger that American Dirt has unleashed in the Hispanic community — especially in the literary guild — Longoria concluded:

“The last thing I’ll say that it really pissed me off — I’m gonna say it, I’m gonna get crazy — is [that the author said] “I wish a browner person than me wrote this book.” They did! It was [Sonia Nazario’s] Enrique’s Journey, [Óscar Martínez’s] The Beast — many Latino authors have written this story! Oprah didn’t pick them.”

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