Zinzi Clemmons quits Lenny, accuses Lena Dunham of ‘hipster racism’

Variety's Power Of Women: New York - Arrivals

For whatever record, I don’t think Lena Dunham is the worst person in the world. I save that kind of title for someone like Harvey Weinstein or the now dead Charles Manson. I just think Lena Dunham is awful, full-stop. When Girls was first becoming a thing, it felt like outside forces were trying to make her into “the voice of a generation” and some kind of symbol of the Millennial experience. That wore off rather quickly once we got a better look at her personality. There’s still a lot of effort by conservatives to make Lena into a kind of poster girl for liberalism or progressive politics, but from what I’ve seen, most political liberals don’t want her and we don’t claim her. We stopped liking her years ago, if we ever liked her in the first place.

My point? Lena has been problematic for a really a long time, and her series of statements over the weekend were not shocking in the least. She’s always been this awful. She’s always been a narcissist with Special Snowflake Syndrome. She’s always been the rich, privileged woman who is tone-deaf on issues when it actually counts. As we discussed on Sunday, Lena’s first instinct, upon hearing that her friend and colleague had been accused of rape, was to disbelieve the female rape victim and defend her male friend. It took her 24 hours to apologize, and even then, both of her statements were just THE WORST. Again, Lena has long been canceled, so there’s no new feeling of outrage, really – just the dull disgust at seeing a woman who was given so much piss it all away through her belief in her own cleverness. Anyway, a woman named Zinzi Clemmons has now stepped down from working with Lena on Lenny, Lena’s weekly newsletter/online magazine thing. Clemmons stepped down with a scorched-earth tweet:

Clemmons says in part:

As a result of Lena Dunham’s statements, I have decided that I will no longer write for Lenny Letter. 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. To eliminate any doubt, I know exactly who Lena Dunham is–who she was before she was famous–and have for years, and I will tell you:

She and I ran in the same circles in college. Jemima Kirke was in my year at RISD while I was at Brown. 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 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. 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”. I was often in the same room with her, but I never spoke to her, only watched her from afar in anxiety and horror.

I have been overcome by emotion since reading Aurora Perrineau’s account because of its similarity to an incident that happened when I was in college. One of my best friends was victimized in almost the exact same way by someone in Lena’s circle. It was never addressed, and he continues to move in those circles and has a powerful job. My friend was going through a hard time then, and we decided not to report it or take it further 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.

…Let’s hold Lena accountable, and to me that means sacrificing some comfort and a little bit of cash, in this moment.

[From Zinzi Clemmons’ statement]

Good. Some people have praised the Lenny Letter as Lena’s best work, because her snowflake voice has been taken out of the project, and it became something of a collective of great female writers and editors. But that’s just the thing – I always felt Lena back there, lurking behind every Lenny Letter, and Zinzi is right that people need to exit out of Lenny. As for the charge of “hipster racism” – I can absolutely see that, and I have no problems believing it.

Tracy Anderson Flagship Studio Opening

Photos courtesy of WENN.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

160 Responses to “Zinzi Clemmons quits Lenny, accuses Lena Dunham of ‘hipster racism’”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Betsy says:

    Good for you Ms. Clemmons, and I hope coming on the right side of this doesn’t cause you the loss of income or anything like that. So often the people who started out with less are willing to take the principled stand, but it ends up costing them financially.

    Seriously, what white person uses the N word unless they’re a hardcore racist? It’s just so far out of what my friends or I do that it baffles me that anyone would use that word or that its use would be tolerated in a friend group.

    • elimaeby says:

      That was my thought, too. I’m categorized as a hipster often, and I’d be beyond horrified to hear any of my friends say that, especially under the guise of “it’s just a joke.”

      She seems like an awful human. Can she go away already?

      • Bettyrose says:

        Like most subcultures, “hipster” means different things to different people. Not all hipters wear man-buns or attend kambucha tastings. And most don’t use hipster as an excuse to be complete douchebags under the guise of enlightened irony. But sadly some do. It’s a legitimate observation.

    • Radley says:

      Hipster racism is real. Not just those who think they can n***a (as opposed to n****r) because rappers they love say it and they have a black friend who’s indifferent about it.

      Hipster racism is also allieship until they’re out of their personal comfort zone. Then you’re overreacting and alienating because in their minds you can’t even own your own story and your feelings about it.

      Hipster racism is also benefitting from privilege and the status quo whenever it’s convenient then claiming ignorance.

      Been there, done that.

      • vesta says:

        1000x this^^^^^^ @Radley “in their minds you can’t even own your own story”

        I have also been in and out of Dunham’s social circle via prep school/ivy league/nyc connections. The hipster-ness or art-ness is a guise that they use, another type of privilege, but it’s all at heart just the same old rot and terror of whiteness and wealth—they are no different than the MAGA hat wearing wall street bros who are their cousins and former classmates. I have encountered Ivanka and Jared in this social world as well, of course :( (((

    • belle says:

      The kind of white person who thinks it is funny. Doesn’t mean they’re racist perse, just ignorant and stupid as f–k.

      • AMA1977 says:

        If you think that a word imbued with so much pain, so much negative meaning, and so much hate is ever okay to say, much less in company with others, and even less so in the company of those who the word is intended to slur, then you’re racist. If you say such a thing because you think it’s “funny”, then you are a racist garbage person who should be ignored and shunned by every decent person in the world. Ignorant and stupid don’t begin to cover it. Saying racially charged hateful things make you…racist.

      • magnoliarose says:

        You are racist if you use that word. Period. End of. No excuses and no dancing around the truth. Racist. I would never say it; I didn’t grow up in a house where it was said, and I have cut people out of my life for using it. Racist.
        It hurts black people, but it should also cut everyone who hears it as a slur against a group of people who have given their blood, sweat, and pain to this country. You should be hurt because it hurts humanity and decency.
        What I feel when I hear it is nowhere close to how it feels for a black person to hear it but we know it is offensive and ugly. Shut it down if you hear it.

      • shlockOftheNEw says:

        Serious question. Background: as a mixed race POC, I was adopted into a “white savior” spiritual family, but voraciously read Alice Walker, Maya Angelou…I was attracted to my inner feelings through fiction, these writers were my Everything. I NEVER used the N word, due to a keen interest in the African experience in White America, civil rights, etc. My family never swore, but racism was inferred. (figuring this all out) I grew up in a white culture, and frankly, never even heard rap music until my late 30s. So I’m new to “woke-ness”, and have a legit question. Right now: My son’s step mother read a Mark Twain book in unabridged form. My son tells me she read, Out Loud, every time the N word was used. I personally feel she doesn’t have the right- and kids are too young to understand the context of the character’s time place. Celebitchy is a place to become more educated I value the posts and responses; I still live in white hipster ville, so this website brings the world to me. Honestly- can anyone weigh in on a white woman reading Mark Twain and repeating every N word to kids ages 6-10??

      • KatC says:

        re shlockOftheNEw:

        I don’t know if this will help you at all but, when I was in sixth or seventh grade we read Mark Twain in class. Our teacher had one of the boys in class (white) read part of a chapter out loud. The teacher didn’t give him any advice before hand and I remember sitting there wondering if he would say it and freaking out thinking of what I would have done in his shoes. When he got to the first n-word he substituted it with ‘negro’ instead. I thought he was a g.d. genius, I still think that the teacher almost set him up, I don’t know why she would have put him in that position.

        I don’t know if that helps you at all, just one work around a 12 year old figured out bc saying it would have made him (and everyone else) extremely uncomfortable.

        I do kind of wonder though, if you son isn’t old enough for time period context, is he old enough for Mark Twain?

        I don’t know what your relationship is with who I’m assuming is your ex’s new spouse, but if she is using words like that around your son, who (again, assuming) is mixed race then I think that’s worth talking to her about, bc that’s IMO significantly out of line.

      • magnoliarose says:

        Mark Twain is not appropriate for a small child, and I question why she chose that in the first place? It seems a strange choice for a white woman to read to a child with a biracial mother.
        I have never liked his books, so maybe I am biased, but there are many other books to read for young children.
        I would confront her and tell her you would prefer to deal with issues of race with your children. Tell her that you are uncomfortable with the N word and it is inappropriate.
        Since I am unfamiliar with your situation, I can only say it needs to stop.

    • Enny says:

      My question is, if she knew Lena in school, knew her values and humor and social circle, if she thought she was a “hipster racist” all along…why did she ever think writing for Lenny Letter would be a good fit for her? Did she apply for the job because of her acquaintanceship with Lena in school, despite her obvious disdain for Lena? Or is she backtracking now, saying she’s felt this way since they were in college, to hope that she comes away with a minimum of Lena’s stench on her? That’s the part I don’t get. I don’t doubt her sincerity on the subject – but working for Lena in the first place means she either knew Lena was an a$$hole all along but wanted the job, or liked Lena well enough, was happy for the connection to this job through an old school pal, and then she figured out Lena was an a$$hole. But it does beg the question: you say Lena and her friends were “hipster racists” when you met them over a decade ago, and you’ve willingly been cashing those checks for how long now?

      • Wisca says:


        When you live in a racist, white-dominated world, you work for racists, or as you call it “cashing those checks.” On occasion, your racist boss may go too far, & you find new work, perhaps (most likely) with another racist.

        It takes a lot of work for any white person in America to be non-racist because almost everything in our society (the Ideological State Apparatuses in particular) indoctrinate all of us into white supremacy. Because so many white Americans are racist, POC suck it up and work for them and go to school with them anyway.

        I noticed in the responses to Zinzi’s tweet, an editor from Harper’s (I think), a white woman, asked Zinzi to contact her. Zinzi told the woman that her magazine had never responded to her (Zinzi’s) attempts to write for the magazine in the past. Would Harper’s have passed on a well-connected Lena Dunham (even before Girls)? I don’t know the answer, but let’s just say she would have had a better chance than unconnected & middle-class Zinzi, which is perhaps in part why Zinzi worked for Dunham–an elite connection she garnered from college.

      • Sophia's Side eye says:

        Enny, why do you think any person has the privilege to not work for someone who’s an a-hole? Even a racist a-hole? Unless you’re independently wealthy you have to suck it up and find work where you can. People in the real world have bills to pay.

      • Enny says:

        I’m really not trying to criticize her. I am genuinely surprised, based on what she has written, and her apparent willingness to go without that lucrative paycheck now. You’re correct, there are always racist bosses, and often you can’t avoid them. However, this isn’t just “some racist boss” or “some job she didn’t realize would involve copious amounts of hipster racism.” It’s an evil she already knew, according to her story. Lena didn’t become Lena overnight – why did she feel she could forego the money now when she couldn’t, say, a month ago when Lena was embroiled in one of her many other incidents of general hipster-racist a$$holery? It’s not to take away from what Zinzi’s accomplished, she’s obviously talented, and her choices are her own and I’m sure she did what was best for her at the time. But that weird inconsistency stood out in an otherwise eloquent response.

      • magnoliarose says:

        Zinzi doesn’t have a lot of choices because she doesn’t have connections and has to use the ones she has. Friendships are also complicated when you deal with people with wealth and influence.
        I know many hipsters and my husband could be thrown into that category, Ivy-educated, prep school, wealth but he decided to use his talents and intelligence instead of relying on connections. Some of his friends from school and college are nice but clueless about how much their privilege has worked in their favor.
        Lena’s group is another segment of wealthy hipsters who want to be avant-garde and down with everything but aren’t unless it is white and gentrified. They can be the most insufferably pretentious people in the world and backstabbing bullies too.
        Brown is ground zero for the Lenas of the world.
        I hope Zinzi gets opportunities she deserves and can help other girls like her who have all the talent and intelligence in the world but just need a little help to get in the game.

      • KatC says:

        She’s writing from feminism conference in Africa, I suspect she’s really feeling empowered and inspired etc. Kind of what happens when people go to ted talks, motivational speeches and that sort of thing.

        In that situation I can easily see her going from ‘this is what I do to succeed in my field’ to ‘I am a warrior of feminism and equality and d-mn the consequences’.

      • harvardtas says:

        @Enny, legitimate question. It’s valid to ask. Hopefully Zinzi gets asked this in the near future. Why not call Lena out earlier? Might she have put an earlier spotlight on Lena’s issues by doing so? Probably.

        @Wisca This is an important dialogue to engage in. But I have never, EVER, seen so much race-baiting rhetoric in one response to an earnest question from another reader. Nearly every country on this planet engaged in slavery; none rectified this injustice as fast as America did. Many countries in the middle east and Asia (where my family is from) have slavery TO THIS DAY. Your last sentence implies you want separate schools. WHY? That sounds like something out of America’s 60s. What a disgusting demand.

      • ash says:

        @Enny if you can cancel every man who women have claimed sexually assault them THEN please believe the victims of racial in-sensitivities ok…. give them the benefit of the doubt too…jeez

  2. Nicole says:

    No lies detected. Most people I know (WOC largely) were over Lena years ago. But maybe more people will wake up and smell the racist “feminist”.

    • Electric Tuba says:

      Yeah. She is not a feminist. She’s an opportunist who uses important issues to promote her own image.

      She is not promoting equality for ALL women. Just some women

      • Kanye's Blonde Hair says:

        *just white women*


        And just so you know, she represents mainstream feminism. This is why many women of color reject modern feminism.

      • Electric Tuba says:


        Your comment is exactly why I say she is divisive. What words in my comment led you to believe I don’t know she doesn’t represent women of color?

        I’m straight up saying she is not a feminist at all. Not for any woman at all. She does not rep for any group. She only reps herself.

        I’m not ever going to say she represents any part of the movement because unless you are for ALL women you’re not a feminist.

        In MY life, the position I hold and live by is that if you are not for ALL women to each have the same rights as men then you are not a feminist.

        I hope you understand what I mean when I say that. I’m from a family of mixed race and culture. My position on this is steadfast and deeply rooted deeply in making this world better for my actual blood sisters before I leave this world.

        Peace to you and have a great day :)

      • lilypad says:

        I don’t think she represents mainstream feminism. Why?? Just because her obnoxious voice is loud and obnoxious? Just because she inserts herself into the opening of every envelope? Just because she proclaimed herself as the face of modern feminism? That’s opportunism + PR, not feminism. There are many people who hold themselves out to be representatives of mainstream feminism (Linda Sarsour, for example), who certainly do not represent me or my views or the entirety of feminism.

      • magnoliarose says:

        She isn’t a feminist. She doesn’t represent any feminist movement I have ever heard of that is meaningful and serious. If you aren’t for all women, you aren’t for equality, and you aren’t a feminist. It is a word that means something but anyone can say it.
        Lena has never represented me or any other feminist I know. That needs to be made clear.

    • Wendy says:

      Oh, I totally side-eye the idea that her “feminist creed” was anything more than an invention of the press and her PR team. In academic feminist circles, she’s never been all that popular. I remember in my gender studies capstone group in college (this was 2013/14), someone wrote a whole thing on the fake feminism of Girls and Lena Dunham.

    • Plantpal says:

      For the record: I’m a 63 year old white woman. I need to say this: Please do not paint us all with the same brush. This female (I just cannot call her a woman) has not EVER represented the kind of feminism my generation (and those before me) fought for – the right to equal pay for equal work (still fighting), the right to express sexuality without remorse or shame (baring one’s breasts does not make you brave, IMO, it feeds your own exhibitionistic desires), the right to BE, whomever and whatever, but the right to be the best person we know how to be, openly and freely (still fighting). As best as I can tell, this person has not ADDED to the conversation. This person has simply used it to feed her own attention seeking desire…”look at me, LOOK at me, Look AT me, Look At ME, ME ME’. Again, please do not consider her in the same vein as the suffragetes who fought for our right to vote. Please do not consider her in the same light as the women who are coming forward now to recount their experiences so bravely and to their potential detriment. There are many women, of all colours, who stand for something real, and who don’t fall for her ‘something else’ schtick.

      • Odette says:

        Curiously, (and I swear I am not saying this snarkily), but does it bother you that many of the suffragettes were racist? Because that movement, in many ways, falls under the “white feminism” umbrella.

      • CatFoodJunkie says:

        @odette. Old-ish white chick here. Yea it is bothersome — but I can see how a “pick your battles” mentality could have applied to the suffragettes. I missed that movement, but I caught the next one. being white, and living in the West Indies, we do see a lot of what some folks call reverse discrimination. It’s not color, it’s simply a matter of money — the West Indians could give a sh*t if you’re white, but they care that you have had enormous opportunities denied them, and this creates a bitterness, as it would in any demographic. They fight for Reparations here, and by no means do they include a fully-represented class. But it’s a step and after they’ve won that one, they’ll take another. I liken it to the women’s movement back in the day — no, it wasn’t perfect but it has to start somewhere.

      • LAK says:

        Odette: Not all Suffragettes were white or upper classes. They are simply the most frequently written about or celebrated because history seems to only be written through the lens of white people whilst ignoring contributions of the other races. See also ignored history of non white soldiers in WW1 and WW2 unless they were the enemy nation eg Japan.

        As an example, very few people discuss Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, Bhikaiji Cama and the work of Asian Suffragettes who marched right along with their white counter-parts, in Britain and in the empire. It’s rare to see a photo such as this one circulated in any essay on the Suffragettes : http://images.huffingtonpost.com/2015-10-11-1444597763-888383-001489Asiansuffragettes.jpg


        And yet, Singh’s social status gave a much needed boost to the movement due to her place right at the heart of the establishment which her friend Emmeline Pankhurst could only dream about.

        That said, the movement seemed to make a segregationist distinction between black women and Asian women with the latter embraced whilst the former were ignored.

      • Odette says:

        Thanks for the info LAK. And yes, I specifically said “many,” as I was aware that there were exceptions.

    • Wilma says:

      Never have been into her. When your not of her background it is hard to see the allure. She’s clueless about hardship and living with less privilege than she does.

    • harvardtas says:

      Yup. Many of us were over her despite the relentless pushing by HBO and everyone from the New Yorker to NYT

  3. Clare says:

    Lena isn’t ‘the worst’ but she does represent the worst kind of arrogant, ignorant, wealthy white women whose awareness of the world begins and ends with their own experiences. And it’s about time the rest of us stopped praising applauding and rewarding them. Stop giving these single dimensional me me me morons a platform. It’s time. There are plenty of other women, white, black and otherwise whose voices are far more worthy than hers.

  4. Tiffany says:

    My word Zinzi is a great writer. She is better that Lenny Letter. And I believe her 1000%.

  5. Valiantly Varnished says:

    As a WOC this has always been my assessment of Lena and I’m glad to know that my instincts about her were spot on. She is a prime example of white feminisim- she seems to have no issues throwing WOC like the victim under the bus. She has no sense of her own hypocrisy and narcissism. She tweets believe women and believe victims and then turns around and releases a full statement throwing a rape victim under the bus and calling her a liar. She is truly a horrible human being. As for her being as bad as Weinstein? Yes she is. She wrote about molesting her own sister.

  6. happyoften says:

    Lena has always struck me as impressed enough with herself for the both of us, and have never understood why anyone would take what she has to say as worth wasting the time it takes her to complete a full sentence.

    I can’t even work up the energy to cancel her.

  7. Theodora says:

    I still don’t understand how Lena Dunham became famous and why. I can’t find any explanation except shameless, in-your-face nepotism.

  8. Leskat says:

    I keep waiting for Lena Dunham to not be as ugly inside as she is outside and finally f**king GET what all of her criticism is about. She’s got to be the most myopic, sheltered and oblivious snowflake out there. Has anyone tried tell her to just listen for once, not millennial spew all over a situation and dig herself in even deeper? She’s sure as hell not the voice of my generation, or anyone else’s. I’ve tried defending her in the past as young, immature and perhaps if she grew up and gained some more life experience she’d be a better person, but nope. I quit!

  9. Electric Tuba says:

    This is what I was talking about yesterday and why she is considered divisive and needs to be forever cancelled.

    I did not know about the passages in her book where she detailed and admitted to molesting her sister. I would always avoid anything to do with her because I found her deeply disturbing on other levels. She should never ever be left alone with children. Ever.

    • QueenB says:

      But how is Lena divisive? She is actually uniting people. Against her. There are no fights in feminist circles about her.

      She is canceled but as I said below: Im not too confident she will disappear.

      • Electric Tuba says:

        Good morning, Queen.

        I’m actually happy you haven’t seen any fighting about her because that gives me hope she’s canceled across the board. Unfortunately I’ve seen some baffling arguments about people not understanding what white feminist means, defending her actions, and people trying to redefine the basic definition of the word feminists. Annoying right?

        I guess she is uniting us in hate because I’ve certainly tightened my circle after some people have exposed themselves as umm I guess I’ll say lacking in the critical thinking department. I’m just not going to give Lena credit for bringing a small positive through her stupid actions. I think those idiots I’m speaking of would have shown their true selves eventually. I just cut them off faster after these last rounds of discussion.
        These are people in real life I’m talking about, not just on comment boards.

        I agree with you, I think she’ll find s way to slither into our faces again.

  10. littlemissnaughty says:

    I believe every word of that statement and not just because we know this about her anyway.

    I think hipster women like her have another issue when it comes to facing facts re men in their circle. Lena is an egocentric, arrogant woman. She has a certain image of herself and that includes her friends. SHE knows how to pick them, SHE is enlightened enough not to surround herself with chauvinists and toxic men. So when one of them is outed as a rapist or even just a misogynistic ass, she immediately goes back to herself and what that means for her. For her radar and picking the “good ones”. It’s never nice to be wrong but damn, I’d rather admit it and cut those people out of my life. Girl, you picked a crappy friend. Move on. I’m currently trying to convince my bff that sadly, she’s picked an absolute d*ckhead as a friend but she prides herself on her ability to judge whether someone’s a good person within seconds. It’s bs but here we are.

    • Wren says:

      I think you’ve hit it. Nobody likes to be wrong and nobody wants to learn that someone they like and share good memories with has done something horrible. It’s a personal blow and pretending otherwise is futile. Sadly, instead of grieving the loss of the person/friendship you thought you knew, many people double down and insist that everything is cool and the claims must be false. Well, sometimes they are, but what if they aren’t? People are not good at dealing with such things, and the more they pride themselves on their own judgement, the harder it is to accept when they’ve made a mistake.

    • Monica says:

      yess i think this is it. which is also a form of narcissism. he can’t be bad b/c i like him, my approval goes a long way~

    • ArchieGoodwin says:

      Picking friends is hard, and the point about gaslighting is spot on. We want to believe their explanations (because if we face it, what does that say about us?) But that’s false. It says we give the benefit of the doubt, and see the best in people, I think so anyway.
      And then one day it just pops that really, this person is not deserving of our time and attention. But it’s not an easy road.

      I gave a former friend the benefit of th doubt after a few choice, and unfortunate, phrasing of opinions. I tried to explain about kneeling and the flag, I tried to think that she would come out of her bubble and realize how she is contributing to the issues instead of helping.
      Then she called her son’s GF a “mix” (meaning her genetic background) and that was it. Done, over.

      I don’t feel bad I tried for so long, but I am glad the toxicity is out of my life. I imagine Zinzi feels much the same way.

      • Wren says:

        Of course you want to support your friends and give them the benefit of the doubt when questionable or problematic things happen. It’s human nature. Sometimes that person is not worth it but people are driven to defend them anyway. I think part of it is sunk cost. We invest time and energy into our friendships and it’s painful when that turns out to be a waste. People don’t want to throw away all that effort nor do they want to be tarnished by association. Everyone has to decide for themselves what they are okay with and what they are not.

    • Otaku Fairy says:

      Good point. It’s also troubling that apparently there’s another person in Lena Dunham’s circle who’s done something similar. That’s not to say that she’s responsible for it at all, but the fact that this has happened with not one, but two men in her circle should have taught her something about not calling someone a liar just because the person they’re accusing happens to be a friend.

  11. Ayra. says:

    I guess.. it’s not like most black women, or any WoC for that matter, are pro-Lena by any means, we’ve said it for years, from Girls being set in NY but having the diversity of Russia, to her comments on BW in it…. I mean, they were called all kinds of names for calling her out.
    In the end, she’s a perfect example for white feminism, they’re only with you if you’re white. They never cared about any WoC, because their type of feminism excludes everyone else. Their dismissals aren’t anything new to us, because obviously.. only white women struggle.

    But now people are somewhat shocked? Lena Dunham is being Lena Dunham. She’s a white woman, she’ll be okay, still proclaimed a “feminist” by dumb ass publications

  12. African Sun says:

    The statement is really good. I think one of the reasons why women of colour are not believed as quickly is there seems to be this pervasive colourism that injects itself into stories of abuse. Some people see it as why believe the black woman looking for a ”come up” or why believe the black woman who is less believable because she isn’t white? It’s really nonsense but it does play a role.

    Lena really upset me with the Odell Beckham Jr scandal and that’s when I saw that she didn’t see black people as human beings with feelings and emotions but like statues to be gawked at and not taken seriously. So it wasn’t surprising to hear that she dismissed the young lady’s who is a black woman.

    There are many issues with feminism but one of the biggest problems is its inability to see and welcome women who are not white into the fray without making people give up their cultural experiences, race or traditions.

    And to the fool saying the N word and saying it’s a joke, I would love for someone to try do that in front of me. They would get checked immediately.

    • QueenB says:

      “the Odell Beckham Jr scandal” Also where were the people trying to tell her not to publish that? Its not someone in casual conversation saying it but she wrote it down and it got published. Did no one see a problem or did she ignore them? I mean specifically because Lena has been called out for her racism forever. You’d think if she didnt change she’d at least act differently in public.

      TO me it means she is the surrounded by racists.

    • Lizzie says:

      i agree and thought it was very generous of ms clemmons to label this blatant racism as “hipster racism” to obfuscate the fact that these people are entitled racists that are just as bad as the people in charlottesville with torches. i’m so glad she’s speaking out but it is very telling that even when taking a stand based on actions she has witnessed first hand – she has to soften the blow of “you’re a racist” to try to explain someone else’s bad behavior. its a shame and just a continuation of someone having to justify the ways they are victimized rather than a perpetrator having to answer for their own actions.

    • Lyka says:

      Thank you both for saying that because that Odell Beckham Jr. thing was the nail in the coffin for me too. It was just so blatant that she had this perverse picture of the inner life of a black man in her brain, and she was so confident in her twisted assessment that she had the nerve to share it with the world. And even in her apology she talked at length about the hyper-sexualized picture of black men the world often paints (and how she contributed to it), but she never admitted once that there was something more going on than the projection of her own insecurities. She never admitted once that those thoughts popped into her head because they were already rooted there, and that’s the problem she needs to look at. I don’t think she learned BOO from that controversy, and I’ve never had an iota of confidence in her activism since.

    • Nick says:

      I have never liked this woman but the OBJ thing made me hate her. I remember so many people defending her and refusing to believe it was racist. It made me sick

    • Izzy says:

      That whole thing with Odell Beckham Jr made me want to throw up or throw something at my computer screen – I couldn’t make up my mind in the haze of a rage stroke. I was FURIOUS. I always thought her show sucked and couldn’t figure out why it was so popular. But at least I understand WHY the show sucks – the person who created it, sucks too.

    • Wren says:

      Yes, yes, yes. The thing with Odell Backham Jr was so awful. I was appalled throughout the whole thing, including her so-called apology that basically just doubled down on her original comments.

  13. Marty says:

    Where are the lies? Lena thinks that if she apologizes and reminds everyone what a feminist she is, her constant f**kery doesn’t matter. And does it? What real consequences has she faced?

  14. Wren says:

    I have met many Lenas. I believe Zinzi Clemmons in everything she says.

  15. QueenB says:

    Im still not convinced that Lena is over. She should have been over long ago. She always gets away with it because her white women friends in the media have her back and very likely share her opinions.
    Its a bit like Trump: you think “this is it, he cant possibly get away with it”. But you know at least saying racist things and racists defending and supporting you for that makes sense. A feminist doing anti-feminists things shouldnt be supported by feminists.

  16. Flo says:

    She still had some privilege if she grew up middle class. Not completely powerless.

    • MousyB says:

      I don’t think Zinzi ever claimed she was completely powerless. But you cant compare the power of someone of Lena’s upbringing to the power of someone from a middle-class background – Zac Posen made her prom dress for christ sakes!

    • Tat says:

      She was not completely powerless, but still powerless in comparison to Lena. Money and connections buy everything, as they bought Lena’s career.

    • Wren says:

      It’s all relative. You’re basically saying she shouldn’t be complaining because she could have it worse. Nobody wins at that game except the Lenas of the world because keeping everyone else fighting amongst themselves takes the pressure off those at the very top.

    • Monica says:

      yes, we all are marie antoinette unless we were born in the slums of brazil rmfe

    • Sixer says:

      Yes, but there’s middle class and there’s middle class. Zinzi sounds to me like she didn’t grow up deprived OR privileged. Normal parents with normal jobs and normal everything. In terms of class, that’s a huge difference from Lena, regardless of race.

      Reading this as a Britisher, where our national neuroses and conflicts are around class rather than race, it stands out to me that what Zinzi is writing about is Lena’s leverage of two privileges: class AND race.

      In Britain, this story would quite likely be told through the lens of class. In the US, it gets told through the lens of race. But in truth, both our societies have big issues with both racism and classism.

    • ArchieGoodwin says:

      This is an ignorant statement, to say the very least.

      The whole point, the entire point of it all is that people of colour, especially women, only have the “power” that white people grant them.

      So again, we have someone granting Zinzi “power”. She’s not powerless, Flo says. Only in society, she really is- a WOC, not to be believed or have access to the same things based only on the colour of her skin. Money has nothing to do with it.

      What power does she have? How do you even define power, for god’s sake? Have you not been paying attention? Just go google Sandra Bland and then talk about power. Any power is over shadowed by the fact that she is a WOC, and money won’t change that. Only people forcing that change will any minority have “power”.

    • Sophia's Side eye says:

      Since she never said she was completely powerless your argument is disingenuous, at best.

    • Moon Beam says:

      Where I grew up, we had single family home middle class neighborhoods and then we also had huge mega McMansions (think real housewives of New Jersey) with super rich and super connected parents (I swear some had mob connections). I was the former. Yeah I had a great childhood in terms of having enough money and resources (still had a broken home though) and I had connections and opportunities that others didn’t have, But still there were obvious discrepancies between people like me and the super rich. Huge parties, expensive clothes, new cars, all kinds of extra curricular activities like horseback riding and ice skating, little consequences etc. And I’m white so I imagine it’s a completely different experience for a POC.

    • Meggles says:

      No one is ever completely powerless or completely without privilege, because privilege comes in so many interconnecting forms. (Unless you are literally dragging yourself on stumps out of your third world slum shack to attend the nearest transgender clinic, in which case: well done you’ve just won all of Tumblr.)

      Able-bodied privilege is a huge form of privilege that is rarely spoken or written about, for example. Zinzi makes no claims about herself one way or another in that statement, so it’s a weird thing to bring up in response to her calling out racism.

    • magnoliarose says:

      There is a difference between middle class, upper middle class and wealthy. Then there is wealthy and extreme wealth. Lena’s father’s family can be traced back to Plymouth, and the Mayflower and her mother’s family are Russian Jews. She not only grew up with wealth, but she also grew up with prestigious roots and Old (American) Money. Her father being a successful artist and her mother’s art career would give her, even more, privilege and connection.

      Zinzi is far from that insular world that exists in New York-New England and ties to Europe. You don’t meet those kinds of people unless you travel in their circles and you wouldn’t travel in their circles because you didn’t grow up in it. Fashion magazines are similar. A wealthy woman who attends fashion shows and gets private viewings of designer’s lines can make one phone call, and her daughter is working at W or for a designer. Zinzi couldn’t do that. She knows it and describes it well. Only going to Brown would she have met a circle of them.

  17. Jayna says:

    I don’t really follow Lena, never saw her show, never read her twitter, or this magazine or newsletter mentioned. Every once in a while I read bits and pieces about her on here or in her op-eds that are posted on here or in a new headline about something she did..

    This tweet by Zinzi Clemmons was powerful.

  18. M.A.F. says:

    “hipster racism”- great term. Although, good ol’ fashion “racism”/ “racist” would have worked too.

    • Sophia's Side eye says:

      I think what Zinzi describes by saying hipster-racism is racism with the denial of being a racist because they’ll say they’re saying racist things “ironically.” So it’s still in your face but they deny that by calling it a “joke,” and giving themselves probable deniability. They want to keep their progressive label intact while actually being the opposite in a lot of ways.

      At least with an overt racist you know what you’re dealing with, and others will believe you and be on your side. Lena’s type of racism is insidious, and not as obvious, at least not to white people, so you’re not as likely to be believed, or taken seriously when you come forward about this type of racism.

      • Mia says:

        Exactly what I was thinking of. And not one lie was said.

        It isn’t hipster racism it is liberal racism and Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali called it what it is a long time ago. Hell even John Howard Griffin a white man and a liberal who wrote ‘Black Like Me’ all the way back in the 1950′s called it what it was.

        Hipster just seems like a way of not upsetting special snowflakes.

      • magnoliarose says:

        Hipster is describing a type of white racism, and it isn’t a kind term the way she uses it. It is actually worse because there is a type but no one had a word. Trendy racist doesn’t cut as deep.
        I think it may be a Millenial thing.

    • Wisca says:

      I agree that hipster racism is a fantastic term because it specifies a generation who grew up with the Obamas, Eric Holder etc. so must distance itself from racism with irony. Some may have had a few black professors or teachers and some POC as friends. Others have dated outside their white group. As a group, they must reckon with social media and POC talking back in ways unimaginable to their parents–but where structural racism and white supremacy still reign.

  19. Odette says:

    I am SO Tired and Sick of white people who either a) don’t understand racism and perpetuate implicit bias through their ignorance or b) are “hipster racists.”


    God it is frustrating! Maddening. And they’re everywhere! So many people roam this earth who think they’re much better / kinder than they actually are.

    Keeping my fingers crossed that God is real and that there will, eventually, be some sort of cosmic payback for the throngs of casual racists who prosper around us.

  20. Gisele DeCorvin-McGraw says:

    Call it “hipster racism” or snowflake syndrome or anything else “clever” if you like but that only imitates the Dunham flavor and it is trying to hard to be cool in a very self-aware way while pretending to be off-handed and not to care. Dunham is the way she is because she is spoiled stupid and stupid spoiled–that is her lens. I grew up around those people but wasn’t part of the club only occasionally drawn in when I was deemed useful for their plans. They are insular, myopic and lack empathy. They try to fake deep self-awareness by over-confiding and exposing themselves but that isn’t the same thing at all and it doesn’t fool most of us.

  21. Her Higness says:

    that is 1 brave woman. I believe every letter of her words. People have no idea how hard it is just to ‘be’ as a black woman, and to have to endure so much crap, and be so precise about the way you call someone out, its just a shame. i hate this world most times. racism will never ever go away.

  22. Goldengirllover34 says:

    Hipster racist is a great term. People tend to have a defined perception of what a racist looks like but as a black woman, I have witnessed so much racism from so called progressive liberals who are almost hipster-ish. These are the ones who move in to a black neighborhood in NYC and think that they are so progressive bc they deigned to live amongst us but then try to change the culture by calling the cops on the ice cream truck man bc noise. Or the ones who create a charter school in the neighborhood that they have gentrified and try to keep the black kids that grew up in the neighborhood from enrolling. Or the ones who find out that you are an attorney and ask bold questions about your intellligence and when you check them are shocked that you are angry bc “don’t you know how good they have been to all causes especially minority rights.” I side-eye the whole damn “do too damn much” group. Try so hard to show they are all inclusive but just the same damn tiger who dyed his/her stripes.

  23. Mia4s says:

    “It is time for women of color–black women in particular–to divest from Lena Dunham.”

    Excellent idea. And with full credit to the author may I also suggest white women divest themselves of this windbag?

    Oh and I’m just going to assume Riz Ahmed had a head injury when he agreed to work with her and then lavished her with praise. I hope he’s recovered. 😒

    • Tiffany :) says:

      I may be totally out of the loop, but it doesn’t seem like either WOC or white women are invested in Lena. She doesn’t seem very popular anywhere and her TV show’s finale didn’t even hit 1M viewers. She seems to be a navel-gazing island, speaking to no one but herself. She is clearly invested in by some group, because she gets funding, but I don’t think it is women at large.

    • magnoliarose says:

      She’s been divested by so many, but it took Zinzi to say what has been said for YEARS finally. I never invested in her, so I am cool.

  24. Jess says:

    Support Zinzi 100%. So brave of her to speak up like this and I hope she gets rewarded for her bravery. Good people need a win!

  25. annaloo. says:

    I remember my own moment with white hipster racism:

    “But I don’t think of you as black!”

    What did that even mean??!

  26. BJ says:

    My favorite part of her letter was about people who simultaneously wield power and deny it.People who deny that they are privileged and powerful because of their race,class,etc but also use that power.

  27. teacakes says:

    Good on Zinzi, and I hope she doesn’t end up taking the brunt of the backlash from Lena’s media suckers-up.

  28. Originaltessa says:

    Fwiw, I have never actually met a fan of Lena Dunham. Have any of you? I have no idea who her following is, or why, but I have never crossed paths with someone that actually likes her or her message of selfish whiny complacent “feminism”.

  29. emilymoon says:

    What I can’t get over is the audacity of the statement she made, including the woman claims in the 3% false reporting like she was a f–king detective and had all the evidence, it went so beyond.

    I am glad her past behaviour is being brought to light as further evidence and commend Zinzi Clemens for speaking the truth.

    I wish she would also stop with the worshipping of Judd Appatow, all the gushing toward him because he is not an abuser (that we are aware of) as if he deserves a medal for this, it speaks in volumes about her actual ‘feminism’ . They are both so self-ritgeous, he acts as if he is Hollywood moral conscience, I can’t handle it.

  30. tealily says:

    I never really got the “pile on Lena” thing. I hadn’t watched Girls and I always thought it seemed like she got a lot of perhaps undeserved criticism. I would like to say now that I get it.

  31. Littlestar says:

    Just reread her comments about Michael B. Jordan and Odell Beckham and it was just as bad as the first time I read it. It’s like she saw them both as sexual objects.

  32. lucy2 says:

    I’m very impressed with Zinzi Clemmons. Not only was that very well written and to the point, but it takes guts to cost yourself something like a job to stand up for your principles.
    I hope she can use this to find something better or start her own thing.

  33. hbic says:

    lena embodies the 2.0 version of new york limousine liberals that conservatives despise, and as a ny liberal, i understand their disgust + cringe at any association w/ her.

  34. Cynthia says:

    Is amazing to me that Lena’s first reaction was that statement. Like lady… have you no frontal lobe, to think before you speak. Even if that is your first thought, with your past transgressions and this current climate why would you say that.

    I did not even read her apologies because if there was no video of the accuser, saying “oh I made it up” then just F u Lena.

  35. Shiny Halo says:

    that photo is just disgusting and perfectly illustrates what a hipster racist looks like. not a care in the world, free to say anything because she’s SO IMPORTANT. Let’s bring down all the assholes, male or female.

  36. kimbers says:

    miWasn’t this situation an opportunity for her to practice what she preaches? and instead sje ended up looking like a fraud?

  37. Pamsicle says:

    I have a feeling her and her boyfriend are broken up too

  38. Patty says:

    Totally support her! It’s time for all Black women to divest not only from Lena but White feminist in general. They’ve never cared about us. They perpetuate racism by hiding behind the patriarchy. They benefit from living in a society that values whiteness over all else. They aren’t really interested in the advancement of all women, just themselves.

    Now they want to tear down the patriarchy so they can be the new masters. I’ve seen this first hand at work; the vast majority of them are really not that different from white men.

    It’s been interesting the last month or so with all of the sexual assault accusations coming out and the whole believe her thing. They never believe black women when we talk about racism or experiences with sexism; we are too sensitive, maybe we misunderstood, etc. Talk about institutionalized racism and it’s: work harder, get thick skin, pull yourselves up by your boot straps, respectability politics at its finest.

    It’s so maddening. When I read Clemmons message, I immediately thought of this:


    • aga says:

      And black women aren’t really different from black men. maybe it’s time to accept than women really aren’t different from men when have the same possibilities and power.

    • Snowflake says:

      That was a really good article. And correct too. I’m white, I try not to be knowingly racist. My mixed husband had pointed out to me things that I didn’t even realize came from a racist background. Women do try to play the victim, so to speak. Like do something bad and then when busted, play the innocent victim who didn’t realize what she was doing. Or say we’re not as bad as so and so. I hope none of those instances have happened to you.

  39. Jen says:

    So she knew Lena and her friends were like this way back in college and you chose to write for her anyway?

  40. Ibelievethesewomen says:

    All of this makes me feel like a gossip. A politically correct, nonetheless mean, judgy gossip. I am not going to better the world via railing on some random celebrity. Hmmmm.

  41. Ellis says:

    Dungham is not representative of feminism, or a woman for that matter, or a democrat, etc., etc. What she is representative of, which has become very clear over the last couple of months, is the type of person Hollywood prefers to elevate to fame. Not all, a few good people seem to have slipped through, but way too many seem to be racist, unsympathetic, abusive, narcissistic, sexually aberrant, any adjective with “self” in front of it, etc., etc. And then there are the outright psychopaths (Weinstein, Toback, etc.). The point is there have been a plethora of people in that industry revealing their lack of humanity lately, and I see a pattern of too many etceteras (ok, for years now). But Damon said to get ahead you have to “play the game”, and apparently the majority playing, winning, and taking over in Hollywood enjoy the abuses of privilege. Personally, I’m re-reading the classics. Now that’s entertainment.

  42. Mcali says:

    For the first time I feel bad for Tracy Anderson.

  43. Coco says:

    This situation reminds me of Jon Mayer’s “hood pass” comment. Gross!

  44. bikki says:

    so proud of zinzi – the second part of her statement where she talked about the feminist gathering in Nigeria gave me goosebumps. here’s to knowing our power and worth as women, and especially woc.

    lena has no idea what gem she has lost smh

  45. magnoliarose says:

    Ask Lena who gave her dog back and lied to the original shelter.