|jeanine cummins, jeanine christen cummins, cummins, irish, mexican, latinx, american dirt, puerto rico, grandmother, puerto rican, maria quixano, review, oprah winfrey,|
ORIGINAL: By now many people have heard about Jeanine Cummins' book "American Dirt." The book is a highly fictionalized story about a woman and her son fleeing violence in Mexico to come to America. Cummins (no relation) claims she is "Latinx." FYI real Latinos hate the term "Latinx." Cummins stated in the book cover “I wished someone slightly browner than me would write it." Being Mexican or a Central American immigrant is not mainly about skin color. Also, white is not any shade of brown.
Cummins has claimed in her current book tour that she is "Latinx" because she has a Puerto Rican grandmother. She later stated she is a "Puerto Rican." Oddly enough during a book tour for her previous book she stated "I am white," "in every practical way, my family is mostly white." This article explores Cummins' "brownness," her whiteness as it relates to her family, her experience and her book "American Dirt." I'll start with her family tree then pick back up with the main part of the article.
I will not be posting anything that is not publicly available data which anyone can find. I see no evidence she was born in Spain on a US military base but I will give her the benefit of the doubt. Jeanine Christen Cummins was born December 1974.
Cummins parents, Eugene Joseph Cummins Jr and Marily Kay Matthews married November 1969 in St. Louis, Missouri. Cummins has an older brother, Thomas P Cummins, who was born November 1971 in Los Angeles, California. Cummins also has a younger sister, Kathleen "Kathy" born July 1976.
Cummins stated that her father is Puerto Rican, "my father died a week before the 2016 presidential election. He was Puerto Rican." Her father is not, was not Puerto Rican.
Cummins graduated from Gaithersburg High School in Gaithersburg, Maryland in 1992. After Cummins completed college at Towson University in 1996 Cummins went to work as a bartender in Belfast, Ireland for allegedly two years. If her roots were so deep in Puerto Rico, why not work as a bartender in Puerto Rico? At least she wouldn't need a work visa in PR.
Cummins has written two books about Ireland and the Irish. In the preface of one book she literally said "very few people in the US know about the potato famine in Ireland." That's why she wrote a book about it. WTF?! Everyone learned about that in school. Cummins also claimed that she worked for a book publisher in NY for ten years after graduating from college. That doesn't jive with her Ireland bartender story. Difficult to know what is real and what is fiction.
Paternal family Cummins
Cummins stated her father "identifies" as "Puerto Rican." Cummins' father Eugene Joseph Cummins Jr (1945-2016) was was born in Jefferson City, Missouri. He attended the University of Missouri at Rolla in Rolla, Missouri class of 1968. He graduated with a degree in civil engineering. Most men in her family on both sides are civil engineers. Immediately after college Eugene Cummins entered the Navy. He was a Navy Lt in Vietnam working as a swift boat commander. He was awarded the Vietnamese Service medal and the Vietnamese Medal of Valor and the Bronze Star. He was also a communications officer on the U.S.S. Hanson.
Cummins paternal grandfather was Eugene Joseph Cummins Sr. (1919-1997) born in Webster Groves, Missouri. Below is his obituary,
Eugene J. Cummins, 77; Was Tractor Firm Sales Executive. Eugene J. "Gene" Cummins, a retired sales executive for the John Fabick Tractor Co., died Jan. 28, 1997, after a stroke at his home in Clearwater, Fla. He was 77. Mr. Cummins had been the assistant general sales manager and pipeline manager for Fabick Tractor, based in Fenton. For more than 43 years, he handled international sales for Fabick. He worked on many projects, including the Trans-Alpine, Trans-Alaska and Saudi pipelines. He served as a commander in the Navy in World War II and in the Korean War. He specialized in defending harbors against submarines. He served in the Caribbean, the Pacific Ocean and along the West Coast. Mr. Cummins was a founding member of the International Pipeline Contractors Association. Former President Ronald Reagan honored him for his achievements in export and American trade. Mr. Cummins was born in Webster Groves and attended the Vincentian Seminaries in Cape Girardeau, Mo., and Perryville, Mo. Before his death, he was active in the Espiritu Santo Catholic Church in Safety Harbor, Fla., where he was an Eucharistic minister, lector and lay spiritual guide. A memorial Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday at Christ, Prince of Peace Catholic Church, Manchester. His body was cremated. Among the survivors are his wife of 52 years, Maria Cummins; three sons, Eugene J. "Gene" Cummins Jr. of Gaithersburg, Md., Ric Cummins of Lawrence, Kan., and Kevin Cummins of Manchester; five daughters, Virginia Kerry of Spanish Lake, Lisa Thess of Wentzville, Patti Southerland of Spring Lake, Utah, Sheila Oliveri of Clayton and Jacquie Sweet of Harris-burg, Mo.; a sister, Sister Roberta Cummins of Normandy; 17 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. Transcription by Mary Cummins.
While grandfather Cummins was posted in the military in Puerto Rico he met his future wife the Puerto Rican paternal grandmother Maria de los Angeles Victoria Quixano y Alvarez Torres (1921-2007) . This is where the "Quixano" name comes from in her book. There are pics of some of these people in the family tree image above. Below is Maria Quixano.
|Jeanine Cummin's Puerto Rican grandmother Maria Quixano, Maria de los Angeles Victoria Quixano y Alvarez, born 1921 in Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico, wife of Eugene Joseph Cummins, brown, american dirt, book, author|
A quick lesson in Spanish names. Most common old timey first name for females in Spanish is "Maria" including mine. The last name is more difficult. The "first" last name is the main last name of the father, in this case "Quixano." The "second" last name is the main last name of the mother, in this case "Alvarez." The other "middle" names are nods to other relatives and god parents. My Mexican grandmother's baptism name i.e. "María Luisa Trinidad Enriqueta Margarita Rivera Baz" has enough names to open a large law firm. Her father was Rivera. Mother was Trinidad Baz. God parent was Enriqueta. She was called Maria Luisa Rivera.
Maria Quixano's family is very wealthy living in a very large home in the nicest part of the capital of San Juan, Puerto Rico with multiple live in servants on Calle Americo Salas in Santurce. They work in government in the Treasury Department and in finance. They are also university educated civil engineers and accountants. On top of this they are more recent white descendants of the Spanish European colonists of Puerto Rico. They are not "brown." The census docs say "blanco" i.e. white. For Cummins to claim this gives her some brown points is beyond insulting. White is the opposite of brown in Puerto Rico. The Spanish colonists killed and enslaved the native inhabitants of Puerto Rico and what is now Mexico. It's like a prison guard saying he knows what it's like to be a prisoner. Nope.
Maria Quixano graduated from Sacred Heart University in San Juan which is the oldest and largest private University in Puerto Rico. She and her family regularly flew to New York and other parts of the United States ever since she was a very young child. Her relatives live in New York and Florida. Her father lived at the Punta Borinquen Golf and Country Club in Puerto Rico which was initially built by the US Military and was a favorite of President Eisenhower.
Maria Quixano had two siblings, Ricardo Quixano 1922-1991 who died in Florida and Rafael 1926-1992 who died in Puerto Rico.
Eugene Cummins Sr married Maria Quixano April 10, 1944 in Jefferson City, Missouri. They had eight children, i.e. Jacquie, Kevin, Lisa, Patti, Virginia, Richard, Sheila and Eugene. I don't see any Spanish names. They wiped the Spanish, Latinx right out of the family. A child's name is his/her identity. The family does not identify as Puerto Rican, Spanish or Latinx.
I wasn't going to mention the writer's children's names but she mentions them in the book. A hint, they are not Spanish names. They are incredibly Irish names i.e. Aoife and Clodagh. What's even more disgusting is the book has a few child rape scenes. The author states that the Latino under age girls in question are paraphrased "just too pretty for their own good." She acts as if they deserved to be raped because they are too pretty. Did she think the girls should have fugged it up a little to keep from getting raped? She talks about how sexy and desirable the underage girls are. She has two young girls similar ages. That is just gross!
I will be brief with the great grandparents which are first Robert Patrick Cummins (1883-1964) and Virginia Shepherd (1884-1925) both from Missouri. Robert Cummins attended the University of Missouri and received a B.S. in Mine Engineering. He was a civil engineer who worked for the railroad. He was the past President of the Missouri Society of Professional Engineers.
Robert Cummins married Virginia Shepherd September 4, 1907 in St. Louis, Missouri. Together they had the following children, Katherine, Virginia, Robert and Eugene J Cummins Sr. She died from septicemia from acute appendicitis. Her obituary,
"Mrs. Virginia M. Cummins Dies. Mrs. Virginia M. Cummins, wife of Robert P. Cummins, office engineer of the St. Louis & San Francisco Railway, died yesterday at her residence. 811 East Big Ben Avenue. Mrs. Cummins, who was 41 years old, was operated upon for acute appendicitis last Sunday. She is survived by her husband and four children, two sons and two daughters." St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Apr 19, 1925. Transcription by Mary Cummins.
Robert Cummins then married Katherine Tiffin who died in 1983. Robert's father was from Ireland.
The second set of paternal great-grandparents are Ricardo Quixano (1886-1968) and Rafaela Alvarez Torres (1894-1996) in Puerto Rico. Ricardo Quixano was an engineer who worked for the Puerto Rico railroad. He also worked in finance for the Treasury Dept of Puerto Rico. Rafaela was a housewife. Their parents, grandparents originally came from Spain. They are listed as "blanco" on all census docs. I traced them back to the 17th century in Spain. Some had stopovers in Cuba, Dominican Republic or Venezuela but they are all wealthy, politically connected white Euro Spanish.
Maternal family Matthews
Cummins' mother Marilyn Kay Matthews was born 1946 in St. Louis, Missouri. She went to nursing school, probably was a nurse and is a house wife. I haven't found much more info about her as of yet.
Marilyn Matthews' parents were Arthur Florenz Matthias "Matthews" (1908-2009) and Julia Pauline "Polly" Furley (1910-2012). Her father's original last name was "Matthias" which is German. They didn't change the name until after two generations in the US.
Arthur Matthews was an aeronautical engineer and the project development engineer for McDonnell Aircraft Corporation of St Louis. He invented a hinge which he patented. He was a graduate of Washington University and of the Chicago Art Institute. He was formerly a power plant designer with Curtiss-Wright. He worked on the XF-88B. His wife was Pauline Julia Furley. His children were Marilyn Kay, Arthur Florenz Jr (1938-1999), Robert Cummins and Thomas Steven Matthew (1945-1946). Arthur also directed a musical band.
Pauline Furley Matthew graduated from McComb High School Class of 1928 in McComb, Mississippi. Pauline and Arthur were married in St. Louis December 2, 1936.
Arthur Matthews' parents were Florenz Mauritz Matthias (1872-1922) and Helen Matilda Olsen (1874-1945). His siblings were Robert Harry, Olive Leona, Harold Kanneth, Carlton Thomas, Gladys Verona and Helen Mary Matthews. Florenz Matthias was a painter and paper hangar. He was also involved in local politics. Arthur's parents were both born in Germany.
Helen Olsen was born in Norway as were her parents. She was a housewife.
Pauline Furley's parents were Thomas L Furley (1878-1945) and Julia Pauline McMahon (1879-1955). Thomas was a prominent insurance and general business man. Julia McMahon was a housewife.
Below is the basic wide version of the family tree to great grandparents only. Not everyone is in this tree because I didn't want it to get too wide. Click to see larger. If you zoom in, you can clearly see all the names and dates. You may have to download it first depending upon your browser.
|jeanine cummins, jeanine christen cummins, cummins, irish, mexican, latinx, american dirt, puerto rico, grandmother, puerto rican, maria quixano, review, oprah winfrey,|
Continuation of original article
I just checked out Jeanine's Facebook page and found her research for the book. She went to Tijuana and San Diego in 2015. There's a pic of her in Chicano park and in a Tijuana souvenir shop. She visited Border Angels and an orphanage. Her actual trip was July 15, 2015, maybe a couple of days. That was her in person research.
Cummins' claim that she is "Latinx" and somehow a shade of "brown" are clearly false. She definitely doesn't speak Spanish, neither Mexican/Spain Spanish or Spanglish. Her family is not from Mexico or a South American country. No one in the family is a recent immigrant or poor or had to cross into the US without money on top of "La Bestia." Most people who cross the border take the bus to the border. Most people who successfully cross the border do it with a travel visa on a plane like her ex-undocumented Irish husband Joseph "Joe" E Kennedy a photographer for the Baltimore Sun. The character she imagines in her book would never exist in the real world. Below is the plot summary,
"The protagonist of American Dirt is Lydia Quixano Perez. She lives a comfortable life in Acapulco, Mexico with her journalist husband, Sebastian, and her son, Luca. Lydia runs a bookstore and one day befriends a charming customer, Javier, who appears to have similar interests in books. But, Javier is the kingpin of a drug cartel. Sebastian publishes a profile exposing Javier's crimes. Javier then orders the slaughter of Sebastian and his family. Forced to flee Mexico, Lydia and Luca became two of the countless immigrants from Latin America who are forced to embark on a dangerous journey to the United States."
Sorry but drug cartels aren't charming well spoken individuals who frequent quaint book stores. I doubt Joaquín Guzmán frequented book stores or even left his compound for fear of being murdered by rival cartels or captured by the Mexican police or FBI. Guzman ended up being nabbed because he stupidly met with someone in the media which is why he's now in prison.
I also highly doubt that any Mexican journalist would write a tell all about a local Mexican cartel leader in his/her own name with their address. No Mexican is that dumb. Americans don't even do that and it's safer here in the U.S.
Someone just reminded me that in the movie "Desperado" Salma Hayek as Carolina owns a bookstore. The drug cartel leader Bucho paid to build her bookstore as another front for his drug-dealing. Later the drug leader turns on her and burns down her book store so she must run for her life. Reviews of the movie said that plot was severely lacking.
So it appears Cummins saw the movie Desperado, went to Tijuana and San Diego for two days of in person "research" and read a few books written by real Mexicans with experience. That is the depth of her "five years of research" for this book.
Recently in response to the outrage about her book Cummins stated "I am also Puerto Rican" ( https://www.npr.org/2020/01/24/799164276/american-dirt-author-jeanine-cummins-answers-vocal-critics ). She was not born in Puerto Rico. She did not grow up there. Her Puerto Rican grandmother did not raise her. She doesn't even speak the language. I wonder if she's ever even been to Puerto Rico.
Cummins went on to state in the same article linked above "Yeah. And that (Puerto Rican) was the ethnicity and culture of my father." Excuse me?! Her father has an American name as do all his siblings and children. He identifies as Irish. Her father's father was stationed in Puerto Rico in the military. That doesn't make the son Puerto Rican. The cover image on his Facebook remembrance page is a pic of himself and Ireland, not Puerto Rico.
|Eugene Gene Joseph Cummins, Jeanine Cummins, irish, ireland, american dirt, author, book|
Cummins stated that La Bestia tren is a "high speed train." La Bestia travels at 30-45 kph or 18-27 mph. That's no high speed train. High speed trains travel at 190–220 mph. La Bestia travels at about 1/10th the speed. I know the book is fiction but math is math, facts are facts. I'm sure if I had a copy of the book I could really pick apart the blatant lies and inaccuracies.
More falsehoods. Cummins here did not include the author of a famous quote which she used in her book. The quote is "tambien de este lado hay suenos," i.e. also on this side there are dreams, by accion poetica.
|Eugene Gene Joseph Cummins, Jeanine Cummins, irish, ireland, american dirt, author, book, tambien de este lado hay suenos, accion poetica|
Below are a few pics clueless Cummins posted on her public Facebook page. I'm part Mexican and even I don't post pics of myself with Frida Khalo style flowers in my hair. My Mexican relatives would laugh at me. Besides, Frida was half German and Euro mixed. Frida only wore the Mexican costume as part of her "look." It was the rage in Mexico at the time for socialites to dress in Mexican styled clothing ala La Contessa and other Euro Mexi actors. It was a costume. Cummins claims to have taken this flower headdress from her out of focus child's school project.
This selfie she took in Buenos Aires, Argentina she titled "la frontera salvaje" i.e. "the wild border." She just stumbled upon some old barbed wire used to contain cattle so they don't end up on the highway getting lost or causing car accidents. I dare her to cross the border into or out of Mexico without proper credentials. I once surfed in Mexico and got too close to some military lookout and they raised AK-15's or whatever at me. I paddled the hell away. I didn't take a selfie.
Jeanine posted this pic a few times. It's a Cummins Engine's shirt in green. She is not from that family. She got a green one because she identifies as Irish. She posts it a few times and people talk about how Irish she looks and she says "thank you!"
I absolutely agree with the comments by Los Angeles Times writer Esmeralda Bermudez. The main character is a cartoon that doesn't exist in the real world. It is trauma porn and horrible Mexican stereotypes. Cummins states she was trying to "upend the stereotypes" but she only reinforced them with this insulting, degrading book.
Cummins finishes up the most recent interview about the book's backlash by stating "All I can do is write the book that I believe in. And I did that." That shows you just how incredibly far away Cummins is from the subject matter. She is beyond clueless. Her book has done more harm that good to the image of Mexicans and immigrants.
The response from Oprah and other book reviewers makes me realize that popular books are not always good books. Getting a good review doesn't mean the writer knows the subject matter or can even write for that matter. I only read a few free pages here and there and the writing was atrocious. I'm not even a published writer unless you count newspaper articles and how to manuals. No one should ever buy or read this book.
**Cummins cancelled the rest of her book tour. She cites her safety but I don't think that was it. Many people I know in Los Angeles wrote to the places where she was doing a book signing. They requested it be cancelled because of the nasty, negative stereotypes of Mexicans, Latinos, Central Americans, immigrants in general and anyone with half a brain and a conscious. One book store in Los Angeles said they cancelled it two days ago. If the event was going to happen, people were going to protest. This book was really insulting even to people with basic Spanish.
*Post note. I just realized that Jeanine Cummins doesn't seem to care about the truth. In her factual book "A Rip in Heaven" she claims her two cousins and brother were pushed off a bridge, see blurb below from the author. The crime happened in 1991 and the book came out in 2004. Her brother quickly stated he lied about being pushed off the bridge long before she wrote the book. Witnesses including her father, police experts said it was not true in 1991. The police said he would have died like the two girls. Witnesses also noted he was dry and clean besides found very close to the bridge. Jeanine also said the experience was very traumatic for her brother. Then why write a book about it, go on book tours, talk about it on TV? Money.
UPDATE: I found a copy of the book online and am now reading the book so I can write a real review. I won't post any spoilers.
I had no idea she starts it off with "For him, she will leap onto the roof of a high-speed train." La Bestia goes 18-27 mph. High speed trains go 190-220 mph. That's 1/10th the rate of speed of a high speed train. Mexico doesn't have a high speed train. No one can leap onto the roof of a moving high-speed train. I wish the main character had tried that because the book would have been over in less than a second.
The intro also says "For him, she will carry a machete strapped to her leg." Has this woman ever seen or held a machete? I sure have. A machete is a long knife used as a short sword or to clear brush. The blade is 12-18" long. Below is a pic with a sheath attached to a guy's leg. One, it'd be difficult to walk, sit with a machete in a sheath on your leg. Two, if you don't use a sheath expect to slice yourself to ribbons. Three, machetes don't stop the bullets of AK-47's she mentions in Chapter one. And most importantly four, machetes are illegal to carry in Mexico as weapons. One Google search and she could have realized how dumb it would be to carry a machete attached to your leg. Dios mio!
Okay, just read the part about the "machete" in the book. Cummins clearly thinks "machete" just means "knife" in Spanish :-D In the book she said she bought a small "machete" with a "retractable blade." There is no machete with a retractable blade. Knives as weapons aren't legal in Mexico especially retractable blades. Utility knives would be legal but can't be concealed. Why didn't this woman at least Google some of these terms?
Cummins dedicates this book to her ex-undocumented Irish husband Joe who flew to the US and over stayed a visa. I'm sure he can relate to the struggle of undocumented immigrants coming to America on La Bestia with no money.
I found a copy of "American Dirt" online and have been reading it so I can write an article about it. It's definitely not a "page turner" like the reviews said. I'd be happy if the head of the Mexican cartel Javier would just kill the lead character Lydia already so the book would be over. I do feel a little sorry for her imaginary son Luca but for other reasons. The book reads like it's the writer's own fantasy porn. She's a pretty, smart young woman who loves books and the head of the cartel, a smart well read man (ha ha ha ha ha!), is in love with her because of her love of books. He kills her family because she doesn't want to be his book club friend anymore. This plot is so implausible and it moves along so slowly, awkwardly that I don't believe the people who reviewed the book ever read it. Keep in mind the author used to be in book sales before she started writing. Maybe she just pulled in a ton of favors with these reviews. I feel like she had a wager with book friends, "I bet you a margarita that I can write a shitty book but get a lot of reviews and Oprah's stamp of approval just with my book contacts!"
Mary Cummins of Animal Advocates is a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the California Department of Fish and Game. Mary Cummins is also a licensed real estate appraiser in Los Angeles, California.
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