Exactly a week ago, author Zinzi Clemmons opened up about the sexual harassment she faced at the hands of Dominican-American writer Junot Díaz. Clemmons explained that as a 26-year-old, she invited Díaz to a workshop, but it eventually turned into an unwanted advance. “He used it as an opportunity to corner and forcibly kiss me,” she wrote. “I’m far from the only he’s done this 2, I refuse to be silent anymore.” The tweet led others to open up about his problematic behavior, including the misogynistic ways he has treated women. Following the backlash, Junot pulled out of the Sydney Writers’ Festival, where Zinzi first confronted him about his action, and now he has stepped down as chairman of the Pulitzer Prize board.
Díaz, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2008, joined the board in 2010. In April, he became the chairman. He will step down from the role but remain part of the board, according to The New York Times. The board is currently conducting an independent review of the allegations leveled at Díaz. “Mr. Díaz said he welcomed the review and would cooperate fully with it,” the board said. M.I.T., where he teaches, is also looking into accusations of sexual misconduct.
Zinzi shared her story nearly a month after Junot penned an essay for The New Yorker publicly revealing he was raped as a child. The timing has led some to believe that he wrote the essay to get ahead of these allegations, as the Time’s Up movement – which seeks to put an end to abusive behaviors – heats up.
He’s spoken out once since these allegations came to light. “I take responsibility for my past,” he told The New York Times. “That is the reason I made the decision to tell the truth of my rape and its damaging aftermath. This conversation is important and must continue. I am 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.”