Lena Dunham, the creator and star of HBO’s “Girls,” generated widespread controversy last week after issuing and then walking back a statement defending Murray Miller, a writer and producer on the show whom actress Aurora Perrineau said raped her when she was 17 and he was in his 30s.
In response, author Zinzi Clemmons, a contributor to Dunham’s online newsletter Lenny Letter, announced Saturday on Facebook that she would no longer write for the publication and urged women of color “to divest from Lena Dunham.”
Clemmons offered examples of Dunham’s behavior and connections during college as further explanation for her decision, writing that she used to avoid Dunham and her circle of friends in college because of their “well-known racism.”
“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 wrote in the post that she later shared on Twitter.
Clemmons’ novel, What We Lose, was recently excerpted in the publication, which Dunham founded in 2015 with “Girls” showrunner Jenni Konner to empower women and showcase work from female writers.
In her post, Clemmons said that she had known Dunham, as well as “Girls” co-star Jemima Kirke, since they attended college. The author said Dunham’s friends were known for their “hipster racism, which typically uses sarcasm as a cover,” excusing racist statements as “just a joke.”
“Most of these acquaintances were like Lena―wealthy, with parents who are influential in the art world,” she wrote. “They had a lot of power and seemed to get off on simultaneously wielding it and denying it.”
A representative for Dunham did not immediately return a request for comment.
When Perrineau came forward with her story on Friday, Dunham and Konner defended Miller.
“While our first instinct is to listen to every woman’s story, our insider knowledge of Murray’s situation makes us confident that sadly this accusation is one of the 3 percent of assault cases that are misreported every year,” they wrote in a statement. “It is a true shame to add to that number, as outside of Hollywood women still struggle to be believed. We stand by Murray and this is all we’ll be saying about this issue.”
After widespread condemnation, Dunham apologized later on Friday.
“I naively believed it was important to share my perspective on my friend’s situation as it has transpired behind the scenes over the last few months. I now understand that it was absolutely the wrong time to come forward with such a statement and I am so sorry,” she wrote. “We apologize to any women who have been disappointed.”
Clemmons tweeted that the statement was insufficient.
Read Clemmons’ full post here.