American Dirt

Pendeja, You Ain't Steinbeck: My Bronca with Fake-Ass Social Justice Literature: A Review of American Dirt

Note from the editor

As readers of DE COLORES know, for ten years we have been evaluating children’s, middle grade and young adult books by and about Latinx peoples. Our reviews and essays highlight the best and call attention to the bad and the ugly. We are expanding our vision and posting a review essay by Myriam Gurba, about Jeanine Cummins’ American Dirt, which was originally published in Tropics of Meta on 12/12/19. In the past couple of months, American Dirt has garnered an unusually large amount of positive reviews from the professional review journals and sites and may well be nominated for several major awards. Now, in the “Era of Trump” we need to continue the larger national dialogue. American Dirt is, as Myriam writes, “a literary liquado that tastes like its title.”

American Dirt has become the model for racist tropes about Mexican immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. These tropes—attached to huge contracts—are growing in number and intensity. We see it as our responsibility to help stop the speeding train. American Dirt should continue to be discussed deeply and should not be rewarded for its racism thinly disguised as literature. 

Beverly Slapin

When I tell gringos that my Mexican grandfather worked as a publicist, the news silences them.
Shocked facial expressions follow suit.

Their heads look ready to explode and I can tell they’re thinking, “In Mexico, there are PUBLICISTS?!”

I wryly grin at these fulanos and let my smile speak on my behalf. It answers, “Yes, bitch, in México, there are things to publicize such as our own fucking opinions about YOU.”

I follow in the cocky footsteps of my grandfather, Ricardo Serrano Ríos, “decano de los publicistas de Jalisco,” and not only do I have opinions, I bark them como itzcuintli. También soy chismosa and if you don’t have the gift of Spanglish, allow me to translate. “Chisme” means gossip. It’s my preferred art form, one I began practicing soon after my period first stained my calzones, and what’s literature, and literary criticism, if not painstakingly aestheticized chisme?

Tengo chisme. Are you ready?

A self-professed gabacha, Jeanine Cummins, wrote a book that sucks. Big time.

Her obra de caca belongs to the great American tradition of doing the following:

  1. Appropriating genius works by people of color
  2. Slapping a coat of mayonesa on them to make palatable to taste buds estados-unidenses and
  3. Repackaging them for mass racially “colorblind” consumption.

Rather than look us in the eye, many gabachos prefer to look down their noses at us. Rather than face that we are their moral and intellectual equals, they happily pity us. Pity is what inspires their sweet tooth for Mexican pain, a craving many of them hide. This denial motivates their spending habits, resulting in a preference for trauma porn that wears a social justice fig leaf. To satisfy this demand, Cummins tossed together American Dirt, a “road thriller” that wears an I’m-giving-a-voice-to-the-voiceless-masses merkin.

I learned about Dirt when an editor at a feminist magazine invited me to review it.

I accepted her offer, Dirt arrived in my mailbox, and I tossed it in my suitcase. At my tía’s house in Guadalajara, I opened the book.

Before giving me a chance to turn to chapter one, a publisher’s letter made me wince.

“The first time Jeanine and I ever talked on the phone,” the publisher gushed, “she said migrants at the Mexican border were being portrayed as a ‘faceless brown mass.’ She said she wanted to give these people a face.”

The phrase “these people” pissed me off so bad my blood became carbonated.

I looked up, at a mirror hanging on my tía’s wall.

It reflected my face.

In order to choke down Dirt, I developed a survival strategy. It required that I give myself over to the project of zealously hate-reading the book, filling its margins with phrases like “Pendeja, please.” That’s a Spanglish analogue for “Bitch, please.”

Back in Alta California, I sat at my kitchen table and penned my review. I submitted it. Waited.

After a few days, an editor responded. She wrote that though my takedown of Dirt was “spectacular,” I lacked the fame to pen something so “negative.” She offered to reconsider if I changed my wording, if I wrote “something redeeming.”

Because the nicest thing I can say about Dirt is that its pages ought to be upcycled as toilet paper, the editors hauled out the guillotine. I was notified that I’d be paid a kill fee: 30% of the $650 I was initially offered for my services.

Behold my unpublishable cruelty as it rises from the dead!

In México, busy people drink licuados. Making these beverages requires baseline skills. Drop fruit, milk, and ice into a blender and voilà: a meal on-the-go.

Unfortunately, Jeanine Cummins’ narco-novel, American Dirt, is a literary licuado that tastes like its title. Cummins plops overly-ripe Mexican stereotypes, among them the Latin lover, the suffering mother, and the stoic manchild, into her wannabe realist prose. Toxic hetero-romanticism gives the sludge an arc and because the white gaze taints her prose, Cummins positions the United States of America as a magnetic sanctuary, a beacon toward which the story’s chronology chugs.

México: bad.

USA: good.

I pinched my metaphorical nose and read.

Cummins bombards with clichés from the get-go. Chapter One starts with assassins opening fire on a quinceañera, a fifteenth birthday party, a scene one can easily imagine President Donald Trump breathlessly conjuring at a Midwestern rally, and while Cummins’ executioners are certainly animated, their humanity remains shallow. By categorizing these characters as “the modern bogeymen of urban Mexico,” she flattens them. By invoking monsters with English names and European lineages, Cummins reveals the color of her intended audience: white. Mexicans don’t fear the bogeyman. We fear his very distant cousin, el cucuy.

Cummins employs this “landscape of carnage,” a turn of phrase which hearkens to Trump’s inaugural speech, to introduce her protagonist, the newly widowed Lydia Quixano Perez. Police descend upon Lydia’s home, now a schlocky crime scene, to pantomime investigation. Lydia doesn’t stick around. She understands what all Mexicans do, that cops and criminals play for the same team, and so she and her son Luca, the massacre’s other survivor, flee.

With their family annihilated by narcotraffickers, mother and son embark on a refugees’ journey. They head north, or, as Cummins’ often writes, to “el norte,” and italicized Spanish words like carajomijo, and amigo litter the prose, yielding the same effect as store-bought taco seasoning.

Through flashbacks, Cummins reveals that Lydia, “a moderately attractive but not beautiful woman,” age thirty-two, operated a bookstore. Her character soon takes absurd shape. As a protagonist, Lydia is incoherent, laughable in her contradictions. In one flashback, Sebastián, Lydia’s husband, a journalist, describes her as one of the “smartest” women he’s ever known. Nonetheless, she behaves in gallingly naïve and stupid ways. Despite being an intellectually engaged woman, and the wife of a reporter whose beat is narcotrafficking, Lydia experiences shock after shock when confronted with the realities of México, realities that would not shock a Mexican.

It shocks Lydia to learn that the mysterious and wealthy patron who frequents her bookstore flanked by “[thuggish]” bodyguards is the capo of the local drug cartel! It shocks Lydia to learn that some central Americans migrate to the United States by foot! It shocks Lydia to learn that men rape female migrants en route to the United States! It shocks Lydia to learn that Mexico City has an ice-skating rink! (This “surprise” gave me a good chuckle: I learned to ice skate in México.) That Lydia is so shocked by her own country’s day-to-day realities, realities that I’m intimate with as a Chicana living en el norte, gives the impression that Lydia might not be…a credible Mexican. In fact, she perceives her own country through the eyes of a pearl-clutching American tourist.

Susan Sontag wrote that “[a] sensibility (as distinct from an idea) is one of the hardest things to talk about” and with this challenge in mind, I assert that American Dirt fails to convey any Mexican sensibility. It aspires to be Día de los Muertos but it, instead, embodies Halloween. The proof rests in the novel’s painful humorlessness. Mexicans have over a hundred nicknames for death; most of them are playful because death is our favorite playmate, and Octavio Paz explained our unique relationship with la muerte when he wrote, “The Mexican…is familiar with death. [He] jokes about it, caresses it, sleeps with it, celebrates it. It is one of his favorite toys and his most steadfast love.” Cummins’ failure to approach death with appropriate curiosity, and humility, is what makes American Dirt a perfect read for your local self-righteous gringa book club.

Writer Alexander Chee has said that writers interested in exploring the realities of those unlike themselves should answer three questions before proceeding. These are:

“Why do you want to write from this character’s point of view?”

“Do you read writers from this community currently?”

“Why do you want to tell this story?”

The introductory letter from Cummins’s editor answers the final question. Cummins believes she’s important, and expert, enough to represent “faceless” brown people.

Step aside, Jesucristo. There’s a new savior in town. Her name is Jeanine.

Saviors terrify me, they always fuck things up, often by getting people killed, and if you don’t believe me, look closely at the first four letters of the word messiah.

To fit the messyanic bill, Cummins re-branded herself as a person of color. A glance at recent interviews shows Cummins now identifying as “Latinx,” her claim to this identity hinging on the existence of a Puerto Rican grandmother. Cummins, however, is still breaking in her Latinx-ness because four years ago, she wasn’t.

I repeat: Four years ago, Cummins was white.

“I don’t want to write about race,” Cummins wrote in a 2015 New York Times op-ed. “What I mean is, I really don’t want to write about race…I am white… I’ll never know the impotent rage of being profiled or encounter institutionalized hurdles to success because of my skin or hair or name.”

Unlike the narcos she vilifies, Cummins exudes neither grace nor flair. Instead, she bumbles with Trumpian tackiness, and a careful look at chronology reveals how she operates: opportunistically, selfishly, and parasitically. Cummins identified the gringo appetite for Mexican pain and found a way to exploit it. With her ambition in place, she shoved the “faceless” out of her way, ran for the microphone and ripped it out of our hands, deciding that her incompetent voice merited amplification.

By her own admission, Cummins lacked the qualifications to write Dirt.

And she did it anyways.

For a seven-figure sum.

A seven-figure sum.

As Bart Simpson used to say, “Ay caramba!”

Dirt isn’t Cummins’s first book. In addition to several other novels, she wrote a highly racialized true crime memoir, A Rip in Heaven. I also wrote a memoir in this genre, MeanMean features a budding serial killer, Tommy Jesse Martinez. In 1996, Martinez sexually assaulted several women, me included, and his final victim helped police capture him.

In the months between my sexual assault and his capture, Martinez raped, disfigured, and bludgeoned to death Sophia Castro Torres, a soft-spoken Mexican migrant who sold Mary Kay cosmetics and performed farm work. Martinez stole her green card, kept it as a trophy, and threw it in a trash can once it bored him.

Sophia’s ghost haunts me. She’s always with me, I supposed you could say she talks to me, and she has words for Cummins:

Mexicanas die en el otro lado too. Mexicanas get raped in the USA too. You know better, you know how dangerous the United States of America is, and you still chose to frame this place as a sanctuary. It’s not.

The United States of America became my grave.

Perhaps Cummins fascination with borders explains Dirt’s similarity to other works about México and migration: her novel is so similar to the works she used for research that some might say it borders on the P word. In Dirt’s acknowledgements, Cummins announces her ignorance by thanking people for “patiently teaching me things about Mexico.” She lists writers “you should read if you want to learn more about Mexico” and lists a slew of authors—Luis Alberto Urrea, Oscar Martinez, Sonia Nazario, Jennifer Clement, Aida Silva Hernandez, Rafael Alarcon, Valeria Luiselli, and Reyna Grande—contradicting her characterization of us as an illiterate horde. We not only have faces and names. Some of us have extensive bibliographies.

If Cummins had really wanted to draw attention to the assorted crises faced by Mexicans, Mexican migrants in particular, she could’ve referred readers to the primary and secondary sources she plundered. Let’s take, as an example, Across a Hundred Mountains, a novel written by Reyna Grande. At age 9, Grande entered the United States as an undocumented immigrant. She “became the first person in her family to set foot in a university,” and obtained both a B.A. and M.F.A. Her lived experience as a Mexican migrant inspires both her fiction and nonfiction and Grande writes intimately about a phenomenon Cummins has emphasized she knows nothing about: racism.

While recently attending a literary gala at the Library of Congress, a fellow writer misidentified Grande. Instead of assuming she was his peer, he treated her as a member of the waitstaff. Grande wrote about this experience, stating that “feelings of inadequacy” have persisted in spite of her success. These feelings begin early. When I was in high school, I scored better on the Advanced Placement English Language and Composition exam than all of my white classmates. Instead of celebrating my success, many teachers openly insinuated that my score was suspect. I must have cheated.

While we’re forced to contend with impostor syndrome, dilettantes who grab material, style, and even voice are lauded and rewarded.

Dirt reads like a gringa remix of Nazario’s Enrique’s Journey and a sloppy mash-up of Urrea’s entire oeuvre. His early works, Across the Wire and By the Lake of Sleeping Children, echo throughout Dirt. The book’s cringe-inducing awkwardness reminds me of the time I walked in on my roommate dressed from head to toe in my clothes. It astonished and disturbed me to find this fellow undergrad in front of our dorm room mirror, pretending to be… me. Suddenly aware of my presence, she made eye contact with me through the reflection. Unsure of what to do, I left. We never discussed the event.

She returned my clothes to the closet, but her choice to wear them as a costume had altered them. I couldn’t wear them anymore. They smelled of my roommate. Seams were torn.

My roommate and I weren’t the same size.

Cummins did the same thing as my roommate but took her audacity a step further: she stepped out in public wearing her ill-fitting Mexican costume.

Dirt is a Frankenstein of a book, a clumsy and distorted spectacle and while some white critics have compared Cummins to Steinbeck, I think a more apt comparison is to Vanilla Ice. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Imperative Entertainment, a production banner notorious for having teamed up with the likes of libertarian cowboy Clint Eastwood, has acquired the rights to the “Mexican migrant drama novel.”

Because my catastrophic imagination is highly active these days, I can visualize what this film might inspire. I can see Trump sitting in the White House’s movie theatre, his little hands reaching for popcorn as he absorbs Dirt’s screen adaptation. “This!” he yells. “This is why we must invade.” I don’t think Cummins intended to write a novel that would serve a Trumpian agenda but that’s the danger of becoming a messiah. You never know who will follow you into the promised land.

—Myriam Gurba
published 3/18/20

This essay was originally published in Tropics of Meta, 12/12/19. We thank Myriam Gurba and Tropics of Meta for permission.



Note from the editor

As readers of DE COLORES know, for ten years we have been evaluating children’s, middle grade and young adult books by and about Latinx peoples. Our reviews and essays highlight the best and call attention to the bad and the ugly. We are expanding our vision and posting a review essay by David Bowles, a friend and colleague, about Jeanine Cummins’ American Dirt, which was published today. In the past few days, this title has garnered an unusually large amount of positive reviews from the professional review journals and sites and may well be nominated for several major awards. Now, in the “Era of Trump” we need to continue the larger national dialogue. American Dirt is, as David writes, “harmful, appropriating, inaccurate, trauma-porn melodrama,” including damaging racist tropes about Mexican immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. We see it as our responsibility to help stop the speeding train. American Dirt should continue to be discussed deeply and should not be rewarded for its racism thinly disguised as literature. 

Beverly Slapin

Cummins’ Non-Mexican Crap
If you haven’t already, you’re going to be hearing a lot of praise for Jeanine Cummins’ American Dirt, a novel about a Mexican bookseller who has to escape cartel-related violence with her son, fleeing to the US. Cummins received a seven-figure advance for this book.

And it’s harmful, appropriating, inaccurate, trauma-porn melodrama.•••

Problem 1: The Author

Let me start with the obvious: Cummins has never lived even within five hundred miles of Mexico or the border. In fact, until very recently, she didn’t lay claim to the Latinx heritage that comes to her through a Puerto Rican grandmother. Just five years ago, she was calling herself white.

Latina or no, Cummins certainly isn’t Mexican or Chicana. That’s a problem.

If you don’t know this, Mexican writers are horribly underpaid. Women writers in Mexico, more so. And Chicanx authors suffer marginalization in the US market. As a Mexican American writer, I have seen my Chicana and Mexicana colleagues struggle to get their stories told, to get their manuscripts into the hands of agents and past the publishing industry’s gatekeepers.

While I have nothing against Jeanine’s (or anyone else’s) writing a book about the plight of Mexican women and immigrants (especially if they do their homework and don’t exoticize our culture), I am deeply bothered that this non-#OwnVoices novel has been anointed the book about the issue for 2020 (with a seven-figure advance, no less) with glowing reviews from major newspapers and the support of big names in US publishing.

Such reception is especially harmful because authentic stories by Mexicanas and Chicanas are either passed over or published to significantly less fanfare (and for much less money). There’s been strong pushback, especially Myriam Gurba’s masterful take-down of the book (that magazines refused to publish) and Parul Sehgal’s examination of how the book “flounders and fails.”

Author Daniel Peña characterizes the book in stark terms: “lab-created brown trauma built for the white gaze and white book clubs to give a textural experience to people who need to feel something to avoid doing anything and from the safety of their chair.”

US readers would be much better off diving into one of the many books on immigration by actual Chicanx and Mexican writers that already exist. I mean, Cummins sure as hell did:

“My research started with reading everything Luis Alberto Urrea ever wrote. Then I read everything else I could find about contemporary Mexico and by contemporary Mexican writers. Then I read everything I could find about migration. Sonia Nazario’s Enrique’s Journey is magnificent. So is The Beast by the Salvadoran writer Óscar Martínez.” (from her Shelf Awareness interview:

And American Dirt leans heavily into that source material. I don’t mean word-for-word plagiarism. Instead, the novel features scenes / elements from articles, novels and social media posts by Mexicans and Chicanx writers. Sometimes, ironically, Cummins depicts things that no longer exist (because she’s ripped them from older works).

You see, even after reading existing works, Jeanine Cummins still apparently felt she needed to write about the plight of Mexican immigrants. Ostensibly, however, she was conflicted and nervous.

On the one hand, she admits to Alexandra Alter of the New York Times“I don’t know if I’m the right person to tell this story.” And in the afterword of her book, she worries that “privilege would make [her] blind to certain truths,” wishing that someone “slightly browner than [her] would write it.”

But on the other hand … she still wrote it. After talking to various Mexicans on the border, this was her response: “Every single person I met made me more and more determined to write this book.” Cummins was concerned, she claims, that people at the border were being depicted as a “brown, faceless mass.” She wanted to give them a face. To be their white savior.

Of course, she conveniently forgot about the very #OwnVoices books she had mined for ideas and cultural texture.

In the midst of this literary amnesia, she decided to make millions off the pain and struggle of women from a completely different culture.

Her response to the criticism? She tells Alter, “I do think that the conversation about cultural appropriation is incredibly important, but I also think that there is a danger sometimes of going too far toward silencing people.”

When we criticize her, in other words, we’re the bad guys.

In addition to laying claim now to a Latina identity, she also cites her marriage to a formerly undocumented man as credentials for telling this story. Of course, her husband is from Ireland. Not a lot of Irish folks in camps or cages, last I checked. I daresay Trump would go easier on—nay, welcome—such immigrants.

Why does her identity even matter? Because she gets nearly everything wrong as a result.

Problem 2: The Content

For example, Cummins screws up Spanish egregiously (especially nuances in Mexican Spanish). First, when depicting Spanish-language dialogue as English, she sprinkles it with Spanish words, which is ridiculous (“Hola, abuela” is just “Hello, Grandma,” in English, not “Hello, Abuela,” as Cummins prefers). Even if we accept this as poetic license to add cultural texture, she does it poorly, never using Mexican Spanish terms, just sterile, standard ones. If you’re going to add spice, make it chile, Jeanine. “Maldita sea” could be “chingada madre,” for example. “Horseshit” could be “pendejadas” (as David Schmidt points out in an upcoming negative review) and “bogeyman” should be “cucu” or “cucuy” (as Myriam Gurba clarifies).

Actual examples of Spanish are wooden and odd, as if generated by Google Translate and then smoothed slightly by a line editor. Take this note from Lydia’s husband for example:

Hay sangre en tus manos también. Lo siento por tu dolor y el mío. Ahora estamos destinados a permanecer eternamente unidos por este pesar. Jamás imaginé este capítulo para nosotros. Pero no te preocupes, mi reina del alma—tu sufrimiento será breve.

(There is blood on your hands as well. I’m sorry for your pain and mine. Now we are bound forever in this grief. I never imagined this chapter for us. But do not worry, Queen of my Soul—your suffering will be brief.)

The Spanish is … not idiomatic at all.

Cultural references are often missed, and Lydia Quixano Pérez (what a name, huh?) is ignorant of things that any Mexican knows. Take this exchange about the bad guy, an elegant cartel leader:

“I know you don’t like to think of it like this, but at the end of the day, these guys are businessmen, and this one is smarter than most.” He put his arm around her. “He’s not your typical narco. In a different life, he could’ve been Bill Gates or something. An entrepreneur.”

“Great,” she said, threading one arm across his midsection and resting her head on his chest. “Maybe he should run for mayor.”

“I think he’s more of a chamber of commerce kinda guy.” Sebastián laughed, but Lydia couldn’t. They were quiet for a moment, and then Sebastián said, “La Lechuza.”


“That’s his name.” The Owl.

Now she was able to laugh. “Are you serious?” She sat up to look him in the face, to determine if he was messing with her. Sometimes he fed her nonsense just to test how gullible she was. This time, his face was innocent. “The Owl? That’s a terrible name!” She laughed again. “Owls aren’t scary.”

A “lechuza” is a screech owl. They have been feared throughout Mexico for literally thousands of years, considered harbingers of death, witches in disguise. Lydia’s reaction is that of the white readers, not actual Mexicans. And this is just one of literally dozens of examples.

People are stereotypes in this novel, participating in stereotypical activities (quinceañeras, for example). They live in a flattened pastiche version of Mexico, a dark hellhole of the sort Trump rails against, geographically and culturally indistinct. Lydia and Luca—despite having money—escape to the precious freedom of the US aboard La Bestia (that dangerous, crime-infested train) because of course they do. But they don’t suffer the maiming, abuse, theft, and rape so common on that gang-controlled artery to the border.

La Bestia (from Wikipedia)pastedGraphic.png

It’s all very Hollywood, very best-selling thriller.

And the characters. Gah. I am close friends with people from all social classes in Mexico, including light-skinned, middle-class, book-loving women like the protagonist ostensibly is. But none of the peculiarities of those lives and experiences make their way into this novel.

Instead, Lydia and Luca feel like a white US mother and her son, with nominally Mexican names slapped on, sprinkled with a bit of lime and salt. They could easily appear in a Gillian Flynn novel with little adjustment at all. Furthermore, Cummins clearly wants us to be startled at how “erudite” and “elegant” some of the males are.

“OMG! Really?” I imagine some US reader gasping. “In Mexico? Aren’t all men uncouth swarthy beasts?”

And frankly, I’ve barely scratched the surface here. Setting aside the melodramatic plot and mediocre writing, there is so much more to say, especially about how this book (which the editor characterizes as “a portrait of a nation and a people under siege”) does little to explore the complicity of the US in the violence wracking Mexico. In avoiding politics, Cummins ends up implicitly blaming the victim.

Hopefully in the weeks and months to come, others will join their critical voices to the small group of us making a stand, exploring other problematic elements of this dangerous work.

Final Thoughts

Let me be clear: because American Dirt contains multiple inaccuracies and distortions, the white US readership in particular will come away with a stylized understanding of the issues from a melodramatic bit of literary pulp that frankly appears to have been drafted with their tastes in mind (rather than the authentic voices of Mexicanas and Chicanas).

Ah, and there’s the rub. White folks and other non-Mexican Americans in the US: you cannot judge for yourselves whether American Dirt is authentic. You’re going to have to trust Mexicans and Chicanx folks. I know that runs counter to the upbringing of so many. I know it defies our national discourse.

Pero ni modo. That’s too bad.

At a time when Mexico and the Mexican American community are reviled in this country as they haven’t been in decades, to elevate this inauthentic book written by someone outside our community is to slap our collective face.

To close, here’s a poem I wrote in Nahuatl (an Indigenous language of Mexico) in protest:

Xictzicalhuicān inīn ītlāllo cemānahuacatl, 
in tlazōlli in mictlāmpa cah—
ticemanazqueh inic titetlatlaquechilīzqueh 
inic tiquihcuilōzqueh 
in totlahtōllo nelhuayōtomāhuac … 
zan tehhuāntin, nicān titlācah.

Keep that “American Dirt,”
the filth of the US—
we will keep telling our tales
and writing down
our thick-rooted history…
we, the inhabitants of this land.

••• For those who’ve complained about my decision to call the book “crap” and “trauma porn” (or the use of Spanglish and profanity in Myriam’s takedown of the novel), please note:

Our community (especially Mexican Americans on the border) has never been heard when we bow to faux civility and respectability politics. Indeed, it makes us “faceless,” as Cummins asserts. Voiceless. Needing a savior.

A la chingada con eso. Loud, rude and crude. That’s the ticket.

People who hate us won’t be swayed by our politeness, anyway.

Frederick Douglass said it best:

At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. Oh! had I the ability, and could I reach the nation’s ear, I would today pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be denounced.”

You have to scream your right to exist. You won’t be heard otherwise.

—David Bowles, 1/20/20

This article originally appeared on David Bowles’ Medium account. 

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