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The Schmooze

Lena Dunham Lands in Social Media Hot Water Over ‘Racist’ Tweet

A tweet Lena Dunham wrote five years ago has resurfaced—and is causing a major internet backlash.

“An uncool thought to have: ‘is that guy walking in the dark behind me a rapist? Never mind, he’s Asian.’” the actress wrote on July 12, 2011.

The Twitterverse responded with swift calls of racism.

“Wow Lena way to deny Asian men’s agency,” a user wrote, while another called her out for displaying “white privilege.”

One user used the opportunity to point out the much discussed lack of diversity on Dunham’s show “Girls,” quipping: “Is that guy walking in the dark behind me in Girls? Never mind, he’s Asian.”

Dunham has been having a rough time on social media lately. Last week, the actress landed in hot water after recounting an incident of being “rejected” by football player Odell Beckham Jr. at the Met Ball.

“I was sitting next to Odell Beckham Jr., and it was so amazing because it was like he looked at me and he determined I was not the shape of a woman by his standards,” Dunham wrote in her Lenny Newsletter. “He was like, ‘That’s a marshmallow. That’s a child. That’s a dog.’ It wasn’t mean — he just seemed confused.”

After a subsequent internet backlash, she took to Instagram to apologize for her comments, calling her assumptions “narcissistic.”

I owe Odell Beckham Jr an apology. Despite my moments of bravado, I struggle at industry events (and in life) with the sense that I don’t rep a certain standard of beauty and so when I show up to the Met Ball surrounded by models and swan-like actresses it’s hard not to feel like a sack of flaming garbage. This felt especially intense with a handsome athlete as my dinner companion and a bunch of women I was sure he’d rather be seated with. But I went ahead and projected these insecurities and made totally narcissistic assumptions about what he was thinking, then presented those assumptions as facts. I feel terrible about it. Because after listening to lots of valid criticism, I see how unfair it is to ascribe misogynistic thoughts to someone I don’t know AT ALL. Like, we have never met, I have no idea the kind of day he’s having or what his truth is. But most importantly, I would never intentionally contribute to a long and often violent history of the over-sexualization of black male bodies- as well as false accusations by white women towards black men. I’m so sorry, particularly to OBJ, who has every right to be on his cell phone. The fact is I don’t know about his state of mind (I don’t know a lot of things) and I shouldn’t have acted like I did. Much love and thanks, Lena

A photo posted by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on

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