Writer Zinzi Clemmons quit contributing to Lena Dunham’s newsletter “Lenny Letter” after the “Girls” creator faced harsh criticism for defending Murray Miller, who was accused of sexual assault by actress Aurora Perrineau. In her public resignation letter, Clemmons accused Dunham of “hipster racism,” and called on other writers of color to stop contributing to the newsletter as well.
“As a result of Lena Dunham’s statements, I have decided that I will no longer write for Lenny Letter,” Clemmons said in a Facebook post on Saturday. “For all you writers who are outraged about what she did, I encourage you to do the same. Especially women of color. She cannot have our words if she cannot respect us.”
Clemmons went on to explain that she ran in the same circles as Dunham and Jemima Kirke in college, and that she stayed away from their crowd — “avoided those people like the plague” — because of their “well-known” racism.
“I’d call their strain ‘hipster racism,’ which typically uses sarcasm as a cover, and in the end, it looks a lot like gaslighting — ‘It’s just a joke. Why are you overreacting?’ Is a common response to these kinds of statements,” Clemmons said. She said that she knew of one girl in Dunham’s circle who routinely used the N-word “in order to be provocative.”
“And if she was ever called on it, she would say ‘it’s just a joke.’ I was often in the same room with her, but I never spoke to her, only watched her from afar in anxiety and horror,” Clemmons added.
She said that Perrineau’s account of sexual assault hit close to home for her, because one of her friends in college went through a similar experience. She said they decided not to report the incident “because we didn’t want to expose her to more trauma, which would surely come from facing these people. I grew up middle class, with no family connections in the writing or art worlds, and my friend was from a similar background. We were powerless against them.”
Clemmons said she still feels guilt that they didn’t report it at the time.
She urged other women who write for “Lenny Letter” to quit, too. “Their boss betrayed them by her actions, and it was wrong for her to make them choose between their authors and supporting their boss. They deserve so much better,” she said.
Over the weekend, Dunham walked back her defense of former “Girls” executive producer and writer Murray Miller, who was accused Friday of raping actress Aurora Perrineau in 2012 when she was 17, TheWrap exclusively reported.
Dunham apologized Saturday for not supporting Perrineau, saying she was “absolutely wrong” for accusing her of submitting a false report.
“Every woman who comes forward deserves to be heard, fully and completely, and our relationship to the accused should not be part of the calculation anyone makes when examining her case,” Dunham tweeted.
Read Clemmons’ full post here.