To the Editor:
I recently read the open letter in support of famed author Junot Díaz, warning against unfair media treatment in light of the accusations against him (Letters to the Editor, May 14). The people who are concerned that the media has been unfair to Díaz should keep in mind that Mr. Díaz, since the publication of his first book of stories, Drown, over 20 years ago, has always received the benefit of any doubt.
Mr. Díaz remains, as of this day, a powerful member of the literary community. He remains a member of the Pulitzer board and remains a tenured faculty member at MIT. He’s received almost every notable literary prize there is. His own #MeToo story (which was the catalyst for many of the women’s stories we now hear) was published in no less a venue than The New Yorker. He speaks at countless universities and colleges every year. This is not a powerless, weak, defenseless person being hounded by malevolents.
The accusations, spanning a 20-year period, are serious, and speak to a calculated targeting of young women writers of color who simply wanted a place in the publishing industry. The accusations range from unprofessional conduct regarding a sexual relationship with a student, to emotional and psychological abuse. I hope the signers of this open letter, many of them women of color, recognize how women of color have been traditionally disbelieved or dismissed when they speak of their abuse at the hands of the powerful.
I believe the media has been very mindful of Mr Díaz’s rights and has been very careful in its reporting. I’m asking for empathy for these women who have a story to tell and are also deserving of fairness and consideration.
Associate Professor of English
City University of New York, New York City College of Technology