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

credit: @JunotDiaz/ Twitter / Amazon.com

In the months that have followed #MeToo, fans have watched as some of the most familiar faces and biggest giants in entertainment, politics, and literature have been unmasked and revealed to be unrecognizable people. Ones whose public personas never would have led us to suspect that they were abusers or predators. For Latinas and other women of color, these revelations have been hard in different ways. Men that our brothers, fathers, tíos and boyfriends, even ourselves, once proudly boasted about and claimed as part of our teams have toppled from their high perches and disappointed us deeply.

In the latest painful #MeToo reveal, Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz is being accused.

On Thursday, author Carmen Maria Machado joined a group of other female writers as they accused Díaz of oppressive and abusive behavior.

On Thursday, author Zinzi Clemmons of What We Lose released a statement on Twitter that accused Díaz of forcibly kissing her at a workshop when she was a 26-year-old grad student. In a series of tweets, she wrote about how she had invited the award-winning author to speak at the event to address representation in literature. She also claimed to have evidence of his misbehavior in an email exchange between the two.

Soon after, Machado, who is the author of Her Body & Other Parties, joined in on the discussion to outline what she claims to be a long history on Díaz’s part of misogynistic behavior towards women who have been his fans, coworkers, partners, and students. Including herself. By her claims, the revered writer verbally attacked her for twenty minutes during a Q&A session that both attended a few years ago after she had asked him “a question about his protagonist’s unhealthy, pathological relationship with women.”

Machado continued her comments on Díaz, highlighting how disappointing the claims will be for the people of color whom he represents.

She also made a KEY point about how Díaz has used machismo privilege to not only profit from his ill-treatment of women but excuse it.

Last month, Díaz published an essay in the New Yorker that disclosed how he had been raped twice when he was only eight years old. The piece was a heartbreaking one, with Díaz outlining the many ways in which the trauma of the events plagued him throughout his life and affected his relationships, self-esteem, and even drove him to attempt suicide on several occasions. He also cited a long list of women he had hurt in his attempts to cope with his experiences. Still, with as much empathy as his essay garnered, it also brought up a series of critiques, some of which worked to highlight the many ways Días failed to examine the impact that he allowed his trauma to negatively have on his partners.

It also highlighted how often racialized women are expected to be supportive and benevolent to men. It’s a concept plenty of Latinas can recognize in the many ways that Latino culture dictates that women must play the column that lifts and keep men up no matter how much of a burden they be. Many of us see this in the ways our abuelas, tías and moms coddle the fathers, tíos and brothers in our lives. We watch as these strong and forceful women, even ourselves, become forced into thinking that our minds and bodies are the ones that ought to do the curative work for men. That we are supposed to lay down on our chests and let our backs be the bridges that they walk over on their paths to self-discovery and healing. It’s a notion that I hope will quickly be dismantled by the #MeToo movement as more stories are exposed and more women learn about each others’ experiences.

As of this story’s publication, Díaz has yet to make a statement about the recent accusations against him. Here’s hoping that the writer, uses his response to atone for his actions and apologize to the victims who we stand with.

In the meantime, FIERCE will continue to remind it’s readers that representation in literature is not lost and will do so staunchly promoting the works of many of today’s greatest authors.


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