Calladitas No More

Junot Díaz’s Short-lived #TimesUp Moment Just Got More News

After Massachusetts Institute of Technology conducted a month-long investigation into allegations that he had sexually and verbally abused women, Pulitzer Prize-winner Junot Diaz’s name has been cleared by the university. The Dominican-American author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Islandborn was recently reviewed by the university after accusations of sexual misconduct and abusive behavior against him surfaced last month.

In early May, Díaz was accused of sexual misconduct by women on Twitter.

At the time, Zinzi Clemmons, author of What We Lose, released a statement on Twitter alleging Díaz had forcibly kissed her at an event held at her university that she had organized as a 26-year-old graduate student. Soon after, more women spoke out. After Clemons, came Carmen Maria Machado and Monica Byrne two women who shared experiences of being publicly berated by Díaz on two separate occasions. At the time, Machado described her interaction with Díaz as “a blast of misogynist rage and public humiliation.”

While Byrne and Machado both underlined that Díaz never physically assaulted them, all three expressed their belief that others had experienced worse behavior from him.

Soon after the allegations came out, Diaz stepped down from his role as chairman of the Pulitzer Prize board and provided a comment to The New York Times stating that he took “responsibility for my past and that he was “listening to and learning from women’s stories in this essential and overdue cultural movement. We must continue to teach all men about consent and boundaries.”

In the month following the accusations, no other accusers have come forward during the investigations that were conducted by the Pulitzer Prize board, MIT, or the Boston review where Díaz is a professor of creative writing. Recently, both MIT and Boston Review announced they would both continue to work with the author.

The Boston-based magazine published a letter explaining their decision earlier this month to collaborate with Díaz in the future saying: “We do not think that any of the individual actions that have been reported are of the kind that requires us to end the editorial relationship. To be clear: we do not condone the objectionable behavior that they describe. Instead, we asked ourselves whether the conduct they report is of a kind that—given his role and our mission—requires us to end the editorial relationship. We do not think so. The objectionable conduct described in the public reports does not have the kind of severity that animated the #MeToo movement.”


Read: The Recent #MeToo Claims About Junot Díaz Remind Us What It Means For WOC When The Giants We Look Up To Turn Out To Be Abusers

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The Pulitzer Board Announced That They Will ‘Welcome’ Junot Diaz Back After Sexual-Misconduct Investigation

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The Pulitzer Board Announced That They Will ‘Welcome’ Junot Diaz Back After Sexual-Misconduct Investigation

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz found himself in the middle of a #MeToo controversy earlier this year. After winning the grand literature prize for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, the Dominican-American author became a literary darling, authoring more books including children’s book “Islandborn” earlier this year. However, after publishing an essay with The New Yorker in which he wrote about being raped at the age of eight and the subsequent trauma and behaviors that followed the assault, the author was accused of sexual misconduct and misogynistic behavior by another author on Twitter. It didn’t take long for more stories to surface. A month later, in June of 2018, Díaz was cleared of misconduct allegations by Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

This week, however, Díaz is being welcomed back by the Pulitzer Prize Board after an independent review “did not find evidence warranting removal.”

The Pulitzer Prize Board announced that they would “welcome” Diaz to complete his term, which ends in Apri of 2019.

According to USA Today, the Pulitzer Prize Board took Díaz’s allegations seriously and they have been under a five-month review conducted by the Washington D.C.-based law firm Williams & Connolly.

In a statement released last Friday, the Pulitzer Board said that the law firm conducted “a thorough, wide-ranging, fair, and independent review” following the “public allegations” against the author. After the months-long process, which “involved interviews with dozens of witnesses and analysis of hundreds of pages of documents (as well as audiotapes, where available),” the Pulitzer Board made their decision.

Sexual misconduct allegations against Díaz surfaced last May after author Zinzi Clemmons tweeted that Díaz had forcibly kissed her when she was a grad student and alleged he had done this to others.

At the time, Díaz denied the encounter, telling The Boston Globe that he was “shocked.”

“I was, like, ‘Yo, this doesn’t sound like anything that’s in my life, anything that’s me’,” he said to the publication.

However, not everyone was convinced. After Clemmons’ allegations came out, others came forward with misogyny claims against Díaz. Meanwhile, some called for Díaz to come forward about the “hurt” he himself alleged to in his The New Yorker essay. And others still felt that his silence and humility in the face of allegations was a performance hiding the “violent thing underneath.”

Since news broke that the Pulitzer Prize Board will “welcome” back Díaz, Twitter has exploded with reactions varying from doubtful to concerned to joyful.

Some are wondering whether the review of Díaz was truly as thorough as the law firm and Pulitzer Prize Board claim it has been. “The world being what it is,” writes Twitter user @heathquinn, “can’t guarantee they have found every stone that could be turned over” after another user, @hoperhenderson pointed out that “mistreatment/abuse of women is often treated as no big deal.”

Others questioned the validity of those who still claim that accusations against Díaz were a conspiracy.

Many on Twitter are claiming that the #MeToo allegations against Díaz were part of a conspiracy but, as Twitter user @hoperhenderson points out, a massive conspiracy that included women of color seems unlikely. Still, the law firm review seems conclusive enough for the Pulitzer Prize Board and the news is being vastly celebrated on Twitter by fans of the Dominican-American author.

Meanwhile, author Michael Deibert, who is working on a book about the history of the United States in Puerto Rico, added an interesting tidbit to the conversation.

Whether or not Díaz was “brutal” or a “really humiliating professor” seems to no longer be an issue of concern for his employers since he has remained a professor at MIT after their internal investigation. When it comes to sexual assault allegations, the latest news from the Pulitzer Prize Board has cleared him for now. His original accuser, Zinzi Clemmons, has yet to comment on Twitter about this result. Carmen Maria Machado, who also shared on Twitter about her misogynistic interaction with Díaz, has also made no recent comment.


Read: The Recent #MeToo Claims About Junot Díaz Remind Us What It Means For WOC When The Giants We Look Up To Turn Out To Be Abusers

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For The Past Three Years, I Have Been Silently Fighting My Sexual Assault Case

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For The Past Three Years, I Have Been Silently Fighting My Sexual Assault Case

I am a first-generation UCLA graduate and a Latina sexual assault survivor. For the past three years, I have been silently fighting my sexual assault case in the complex criminal justice system against my attacker. Today, three years, one month and four days later, I have won my sexual assault case. Today I have been deemed victorious in the eyes of the law. Still,  as I’ve come to learn in the wake of #MeToo and the countless brave voices before me, is that my story and my win are not mine alone.

Three years ago when I was 21, I was raped while in my first year at UCLA.

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At 21, I had just entered a new social landscape far away from home, and as a first-gen college student—it was a space I had never occupied. While other students were balancing their studies and bustling social calendars, I faced a far different reality: navigating college as a sexual assault survivor. The cultural implications of my intersectional identity (Latino, female, first-generation, survivor) meant that I had to coexist between two foreign spaces that I had never been part of—university and the legal system.

Once I reported my sexual assault, that launched the beginning of a three-year saga that would include a lengthy and emotionally draining criminal investigation. In addition to juggling school, work, family and a social life, I had to also confront the trauma that I had suppressed for so long which would arise during the investigation. It was here where I learned firsthand just how excruciatingly long and exhaustive the criminal justice process moves. Before my case ever made it to trial, I had to undergo a preliminary hearing, which would determine whether my case qualified to make it to an actual jury-based trial. For the first time since the rape, I had to face my attacker in court and testify my story on the stand while his defense aggressively cross-examined me. Everything that I had ever conceived about myself was called into question. My story, my morals and my character were all reduced to lies. I felt pain and humiliation and for the first time in my life, I was manipulated to believe that it was somehow my fault—that I had asked for this.

Before this moment, I had always perceived my strength as an essential component of my identity, but this experience broke me in a way I didn’t believe was possible.

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I felt my world come crashing down once I lost my sense of self. In that moment I contemplated dropping the case; and I couldn’t help but wonder if this man was capable of making me believe I had caused this, how could I dare face the cold judgment of the real world? The emotional unpacking of my trauma in the courtroom is a drastic example of the type of scenarios that deter victims from ever reporting—nonetheless speaking up. In the face of fear and pain, I nearly considered dropping my case and questioned the very core of my being—my identity. I am forever grateful that I didn’t give up and that for that I thank the dedicated team of detectives, my public defender, and family who stood by my side for three years reminding me of the many reasons why I was fighting this battle in the first place.

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As I’ve come to learn, trauma is not something that just suddenly goes away with a guilty verdict, and like many survivors, it is something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. My sexual assault case win is a double-edged sword of justice. On one hand, it’s an earth-shattering victory worthy of celebrating and on the other hand, it’s a painfully isolating experience. You want to scream it from the rooftops that you’ve put a bad person in jail, but you also have to compose yourself so as not to make others uncomfortable. There is shame, stigma, fear, and cultural factors at play that shape a survivor’s experience and at its very core, it’s an intersectional experience. My survivor experience was no doubt shaped by my traditional Latino upbringing that taught me ideas about being “fuerte” and fighting my battles. But if there’s anything I’ve learned over the years, it’s that this was never just my fight and I was never truly alone in fighting it.

It took three years to see any tangible outcome and most people don’t realize that I was silently fighting this battle in the first place. In this process, I was taught a great deal of patience and learned that acceptance does not come in all forms. I had to accept the possibility that I might come out of this with a loss. I understood that most cases don’t result in a conviction or ever even make it to trial, but regardless of this possibility, I needed to move forward, if not for me, for others who didn’t have the opportunity to fight. As uncomfortable as it was to endure this battle, it has always been at the forefront of my being to share my story in the hopes that it will make it easier for the next person to speak theirs. And while progress did not happen overnight, I can only hope that I had to endure 1000 days so the next survivor will have to endure far less.

Back when this happened to me, #MeToo did not exist in the manner that it does today.

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There were no monumental movements and sexual assault was not a highly-publicized spectacle as it is today. I am living testament that sexual assault happens and it is real. I’m also a living testament that there is hope for justice and for healing. Despite the circumstances, I built my life around the trauma and checked off milestones such as being the first in my family to graduate from UCLA, forming relationships, and making strides in my writing career. This is a new emotional beginning for myself that remains undefined, but I can’t help but feel optimistic about the growing collection of voices sharing their truth. The progress we have made is slow, but we are reaching a turning point where our stories are being heard and our voices will not go unnoticed. To those who lost: Anita Hill, Kesha, Christine Ford and so many more… I stand with you.

My win could not have been possible without the support of mi familia, my friends, community, and the many courageous survivors who came before me. Thank you, this is not my victory, it’s ours.


Read: Cardi B’s Fashion Nova Line Is Here And It Has Already Sold Out

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