Writer goes viral for letter about boycotting Lena and her 'well-known' racism

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Writer of color calls out Lena Dunham over ‘hipster racism’

Author Zinzi Clemmons says what many have thought for years.


Ana Valens


Published Nov 20, 2017   Updated May 22, 2021, 10:36 am CDT

Lena Dunham—and what many see as her brand of privileged, white feminism—continues to face one controversy after another. First, she mishandled responding to sexual assault allegations against a writer on her show Girls, then, as she often does, she apologized for offending a massive swath of the population by saying she was acting “naively.”

But author Zinzi Clemmons isn’t buying it. She says she is leaving Dunham’s newsletter, “Lenny Letter,” citing the writer-producer-actress’ “well-known racism.”

Clemmons distanced herself from “Lenny Letter” on Sunday in a Twitter post, referencing Dunham’s recent statements against Aurora Perrineau, who accused Girls writer Murray Miller of sexual assault during the show’s run. The former Lenny writer reportedly knew Dunham “for years,” as both women went to Brown University. Clemmons said Dunham and her friends “had a lot of power and seemed to get off on simultaneously wielding it and denying it.”

“Back in college, I avoided those people like the plague because of their well-known racism,” Clemmons wrote in her post. “I’d call their strain ‘hipster racism,’ which typically uses sarcasm as a cover, and in the end, it looks a lot like gaslighting.”

Clemmons alleges that one girl in Dunham’s circle “was known to use the N word in conversation in order to be provocative.” She also claims one of her best friends was “victimized in almost the exact same way” as Perrineau by someone Dunham knew.

“It was never addressed, and he continues to move in those circles and has a powerful job,” Clemmons wrote. “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 has since gone viral. Many point out that writers of color are no longer putting up with white-dominated media spaces because they know they’re being held down by powerful people like Dunham.

Others hope that more celebrities will call out Dunham and distance themselves from her.

And some are just utterly unsurprised. After all, Girls was pretty obsessed with white hipster womanhood.



Even though “feminism” has become trendy in recent years, white feminism’s roots continue to have a stronghold in mainstream movements, often poisoning discussions by forcing activists to focus on white cisgender women’s experiences as the default. Hopefully, challenging powerful women like Dunham is a start to solving that problem.

H/T the Cut

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*First Published: Nov 20, 2017, 11:43 am CST