“It’s Time For Women Of Colour To Divest From Lena Dunham”: Zinzi Clemmons Quits Lenny Letter

"She cannot have our words if she cannot respect us."

Lena Dunham

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Here we are again! Lena Dunham has done a bad thing and apologised for it. Now we’re all left reckoning with the consequences. What does it mean to engage with the ‘feminist’ work of someone who so frequently wrongs women? Should Dunham still have access to the privilege and platforms she enjoys? This ride is making me nauseous, how do we all get off?

If you missed it: the latest controversy centres around accusations of sexual assault that were levelled at Girls writer and producer Murray Miller. Actress Aurora Perrineau filed a report alleging that Miller raped her when she was 17. Miller’s legal team is getting ready to fight the accusation, calling it “false and offensive”, and over the weekend Dunham and Girls producer Jenni Konner threw their weight behind the defence.

Citing “insider knowledge”, the pair said Miller was innocent and Perrineau was “one of the 3 percent of assault cases that are misreported”. It’s a hell of an about-face from her previous thoughts on the matter of sexual assault.

After a great deal of backlash, Dunham has now apologised and said she regrets making a public statement. “Every woman who comes forward deserves to be heard, fully and completely,” she added.

Writer Zinzi Clemmons is one of the many women who are now calling bullshit on the whole thing, particularly in regards to race (Dunham is siding with a white man over Perrineau, a black woman). Clemmons, who is a contributor to Dunham and Konner’s site, Lenny Letter, has posted a statement to Twitter urging “women of colour — black women in particular — to divest from Lena Dunham”.

Clemmons said she will no longer be writing for Lenny, and added “She cannot have our words if she cannot respect us.”

While many black women have reckoned with Dunham’s racial insensitivities and ensuing controversies in the past, Clemmons’ protest of Dunham was made all the more compelling with some first-hand accounts alleging other wrongdoings. Clemmons runs in similar social circles to Dunham and claims those around her are guilty of an enduring “hipster racism”.

“Jemima Kirke was in my year at [Rhode Island School of Design] while I was at Brown,” she wrote. “We had many mutual acquaintances and still do. Most of these acquaintances were like Lena — wealthy, with parents who are influential in the art world. They had a lot of power and seemed to get off on simultaneously wielding it and denying it.

“Back in college, I avoided these 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 gas-lighting — ‘It’s just a joke. Why are you overreacting?’ is a common response to a lot of these statements. In Lena’s circle, there was a girl who was known to use the N word in conversation in order to be provocative, and if she was ever called on it, she would say ‘it’s just a joke’.”

Clemmons also claims one of her best friends was “victimised in almost the exact same way [as Aurora Perrineau] by someone in Lena’s circle”. “It was never addressed,” she wrote.

Though we don’t have any further information on that situation, Clemmons has added that Dunham has lasting connections with many of the people she’s talking about.

She’s also throwing general shade at the Girls creator, because at this point, why not?