To: Bob Miller (President and CEO of Flatiron Books)

Support Latinx Writers: Tell Flatiron Books to Fairly Represent Latinx Stories and Voices!

We urge you to take concrete steps to repair the indignity we all saw in the publication and promotion of American Dirt. While we recognize that Flatiron and you are hardly the only publishing companies to marginalize, denigrate and ignore the migrant and Latinx condition, we do see an important teachable moment for all of us in some of the more awful developments surrounding your publication of American Dirt.

The content and marketing of the book marks a disturbing moment in U.S. publishing. The absurdity of using immigrant-maiming barbed wire fence as a centerpiece in a lobster dinner celebrating a book so full of insulting tropes, language and stereotypes about migrants marks a new low in US publishing. And we won’t stand for it.

The good news is that the national outcry among the country’s 60 million Latinx people marks an inflection point in the national conversation. [1]

In this spirit and in the name of our dignity—and yours—we call on you to repair the damage to the Latinx community by taking concrete steps demonstrating you recognize the damage done in this entire process. Among the concrete steps those in the publishing industry can take we see the following:

1. Becoming a leader in the industry by establishing a well-funded initiative to publish high-quality Latinx stories written by Latinx authors.

2. Improving the company’s ability to identify, edit and publish high-quality Latinx literature by hiring Latinx editors, marketers and other culturally sensitive personnel.

3. Establishing a west coast unit of your company dedicated to nurturing and representing Latinx talent on both sides of the Appalachians.

Under the hashtags of #DignidadLiteraria and #LiteraryDignity, we will be informing the country’s Latinos of your response(s) and any of the actions we are prepared to take as we continue to organize with our communities. It is high time Latinx people are fairly represented in our stories, publishing, and in marketing.

At what is clearly a critical juncture in the national conversation about Latinos, we are prepared to join you in turning this American Dirt disaster into a learning opportunity for us all.

Why is this important?

This month, Flatiron Books published American Dirt, a problematic book filled with stereotypes, hackneyed and often ridiculously unrepresentative language of the Latinx community. Its flawed premises, the racism in its promotion and much more—were resoundingly exposed in the critical reception it received in the New York Times, USA Today and many other outlets, as well as in the Latinx community. Dig and you will discover the deeper truth expressed in publishing industry statistics:

1. Latinos make up 18% of the U.S. population [2]
2. Latinx authors, Latinx books are abysmally underrepresented. For example, of the 3,400 children’s books received and studied by The Cooperative Children’s Book Center in 2015, only 83 were about Latinos and only 59 were written by Latinos. And all indicators are that the statistics for adult publishing are far worse. [3]
3. White people make up over 79% of the overall industry. [4]
4. The overwhelming majority of book reviewers (89%) percent are white.

As a result of a callous, ill-conceived marketing campaign, Flatiron Books is now associated with the symbol of a wall wrapped in barbed wire. Flatiron Books is now associated with the commodification of carnage. Flatiron Books is now associated with the glamorization and romanticization of rape. Flatiron Books is on its way to becoming synonymous with racism.

These associations tarnish the dignity of the publishing industry–and of Latinos.

Latinos reject the indignity forced upon us by misrepresentation, cultural appropriation, and other modes of exploitation. We refuse to allow these behaviors to continue. Such behaviors harm the Latinx community. They harm the publishing industry as well.

We have the potential to shape how Latinxs voices and stories are represented in publishing and in marketing. Please add your name to our petition to tell Flatiron Books to abandon these behaviors and repair the damage that has been done.

Thank you:
Myriam Gurba
Roberto Lovato
David Bowles

[1] Bermudez, Esmeralda. “Commentary: When Latinos are shut out of the book industry, you end up with ‘American Dirt’.” Los Angeles Times. January 24, 2020:

[2] Flores, A & Lopez M.H & Krogstad, J.M. “U.S. Hispanic population reached new high in 2018, but growth has slowed.” Pew Research Center. July 18, 2019.

[3] “Publishing Statistics on Children's/YA Books about People of Color and First/Native Nations and by People of Color and First/Native Nations Authors and Illustrators.” CCBC. November 21, 2019. Accessed on January 24, 2020.

[4] Flood, Alison. “Publishing industry is overwhelmingly white and female, US study finds.” The Guardian. January 27, 2016: