Last week, award-winning author and MIT professor, Junot Díaz was confronted by author Zinzi Clemmons, who stated he backed her into a corner and forcibly kissed her while she was a graduate student in his workshop in 2012. What quickly followed was a slew of accusations and allegations from various authors; accusing Díaz of sexual misconduct, assault, harassment, bullying, and violent misogyny.
As a grad student, I invited Junot Diaz to speak to a workshop on issues of representation in literature. I was an unknown wide-eyed 26 yo, and he used it as an opportunity to corner and forcibly kiss me. I’m far from the only one he’s done this 2, I refuse to be silent anymore.
— zinziclemmons (@zinziclemmons) May 4, 2018
I was 32 and my first novel hadn’t come out yet. I was invited to a dinner and sat next to him. I disagreed with him on a minor point. He shouted the word “rape” in my face to prove his. It was completely bizarre, disproportionate, and violent. https://t.co/WQr0hLW8Z5
— Monica Byrne (@monicabyrne13) May 4, 2018
During his tour for THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE HER, Junot Díaz did a Q&A at the grad program I’d just graduated from. When I made the mistake of asking him a question about his protagonist’s unhealthy, pathological relationship with women, he went off for me for twenty minutes. https://t.co/7wuQOarBIJ
— Carmen Maria Machado (@carmenmmachado) May 4, 2018
In a statement given by the Pulitzer Prize board on Thursday, the allegations against Díaz are being reviewed. In the meantime, he has relinquished his role as chairman on the board; a role he’d just been granted in April.
The Pulitzer Prize board has stated that “Mr. Díaz said he welcomed the review and would cooperate fully with it.”
MIT has also stated they are taking the allegations against Díaz seriously, and will be leading an independent investigation.
The Cambridge Public Library has announced cancellation of their annual Summer Reading Kick-Off, featuring Díaz.
Díaz was also forced to withdraw from The Sydney Writers’ Festival, with the festival stating:
As for so many in positions of power, the moment to reckon with the consequences of past behavior has arrived. Sydney Writers’ Festival is a platform for the sharing of powerful stories: urgent, necessary and sometimes difficult. Such conversations have never become more timely.
The accusations and allegations are still flowing in; each containing nauseating accounts of aggression and discomfort. The writing world has been shaken up by the downfall of such a prolific author. But, the accusations needed to be made in order for victims to get justice.
The curtain that had long hidden the dark truths of these stories, and protected the men who’ve abused their power, began to fall last October, following the Weinstein accusations and the beginning of the #MeToo movement, and is still only beginning to fall. These stories are sickening and difficult to read, but it’s important we see them and understand that a vital change has begun.
Díaz has yet to release a statement.
Featured Image Via Bustle