Where Does RWA Go From Here?

As of today, January 10, 2020, here’s where we are with the implosion of RWA:

  • Damon Suede has (finally) resigned...
  • after the recall petition filed by C. Chilove, the President of CIMRWA, Laurel Cremant, President-Elect, and Diana Neal, Treasurer, was certified and
  • after every major publisher pulled out of RWA Nationals
  • Executive Director Carol Ritter also resigned, except according to RWA’s January 9 statement, she’s staying on to assist with transition to new leadership.

Overall, to some extent, it seems a growing pressure has finally released a bit.

That pressure didn’t need to build as much as it did. All of this, from the ethics censure of Courtney Milan to every instance of discrimination and occlusion could have been addressed two weeks ago. So things are sort of resolved: we got the first thing we asked for (repeatedly) which was that Suede step down and the leadership take some responsibility for the mess. They sort of did, and I think that is part of what makes this semi-resolution so unsatisfying for me.

There’s a lot of “sort of” in the RWA statement, too. There’s the continued presence of many of the people who contributed to the mess in the first place, such as remaining board members who were appointed by Suede, coupled with the onomatopology (term coined by author NPR host Linda Holmes) which doesn’t do nearly enough to address the valid concerns of the membership. I’m exhausted from mishegas that didn’t need to become as bad as it did, and dispirited as I ponder the next step.

Also: it is a lot easier to convince a publisher NOT to spend money than it is to convince them to spend money. So the loss of publisher participation and sponsorship is a BFD to the conference, the organization, and the future of writers who relied on RWA’s advocacy on their behalf when dealing with those same publishers.

TL;DR: still a big, big mess.

So. What’s next? The big question!

Where does RWA go from here?

Disclaimer: I do not have an answer. Sorry. While I enjoy a satisfying resolution as much the next reader, I don’t know what will happen. I’m not on the RWA board, and I’m a member existing in the weird professional space of author/also reviewer/kinda sometimes press. So my perspective is skewed a bit.

However, one thing that has happened as I’ve grown older and had myriad professional responsibilities is that I have a lot more experience in working with and for nonprofits, and know a lot of people who do that work in various fields.

And while discussing the destruction of RWA’s reputation over the past two weeks with people who aren’t part of the community, I was asked this question: Who does the organization serve?

That question is referenced in the RWA onomatopology released yesterday:

We know we have a lot more work to do to restore the trust we have lost – and we are going to do whatever it takes to get there so that we can focus on the mission of this organization: to promote the professional and common business interests of romance writers. Our goal is to ensure the successful future of this association so it can be an even stronger, better and more inclusive professional home and advocate for romance authors.

We hope you will join us – collaboratively and productively – in rebuilding an RWA that serves its diverse and talented members well into the future. We believe this community is worth saving. (Emphasis mine.)

I see a very large and tangled problem with that goal, to rebuild RWA into a “professional home and advocate for romance authors…that serves its diverse and talented members.”

Whom does RWA serve specifically?

“Diverse and talented romance authors” is not clear enough as a definition.

Is RWA serving current members, or does it wish to serve potential new or returning members?

Is RWA serving the membership paid up currently or is the organization trying to make the community and culture more welcoming for those who aren’t yet members, and those who left and may return?

(NB: I just wrote “membershit” as a typo and I can’t tell you how tempted I was to keep it.)

Whom does RWA serve?

Identifying the audience isn’t just for writing; nonprofits have to figure out their audience or community. And identifying that community is as difficult as it is to change the community being served, especially when an organization must change to survive.

Add to that question the following: the current members are the ones who have funded what presently exists. Future members aren’t members, so they haven’t paid dues. Former members who may have left because they disagreed with the way the organization was run? Same thing. The past and present are funded by the current members, who also want to dictate the future.

In other words, if an organization wants to change, current members often represent the past, the status quo, or perhaps the opposite of that change.

People who aren’t members, and a portion of the current membership, might represent the future, the wished-for changes, the possibility that hasn’t happened yet.

Setting aside the question of leadership for a moment (and again, the current RWA board should be removed and re-elected in its entirety) it’s important to ask over and over: whom does this organization serve?

Who is the priority?

Because it cannot be both.

If RWA serves the current membership of RWA, well, that membership contains a substantial number of people who:

  • openly embrace and promote racist ideologies
  • post on RWA Facebook pages and in internal message boards about their homophobia and racist views on people of color
  • write transphobic and racist articles for and letters to the Romance Writers Report
  • …and I could keep going but it’s depressing.

A substantial part of the current membership of RWA is a substantial part of the problem with RWA.

If the organization wants to serve any marginalized writers, it can’t also serve that portion of the current membership. It’s impossible. One side has demonstrated in PAN forums, email messages, and social media posts that it refuses to recognize the humanity of the other, and refuses to recognize their culpability in maintaining a White supremacist, classist, heteronormative, racist culture inside RWA. Nor can it commit to changing that culture.

The organization also can’t serve marginalized writers if the leadership has a documented history of not acknowledging ethics complaints from marginalized individuals, and of publishing and allowing screeds against those individuals in print and online. RWA can’t serve anyone if the organization doesn’t fully reveal what happened in the specific case of the ethics complaint and process against Courtney Milan, and what happened to the complaints from every writer who has reported a problem.

RWA can’t maintain its current membership nor its leadership and at the same time say it’s going to rebuild. Rebuilding requires people in leadership positions who are trusted by current and prospective members. And it requires trust in fellow members of the community.

As Olivia Waite and others have pointed out, the January 9 statement from RWA was a word assemblage that scarcely resembled the appropriate level of apology, acknowledgement, and intent to act. It lists as next steps several actions they’ve already performed multiple times. More consultants, more town halls, more discussions are not going to fix RWA.

If RWA wants to rebuild, the organization has to decide who it serves. And as Audre Lorde wrote, “For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.”

RWA has demonstrated over the past two weeks, and the past several decades, with many examples, who it has NOT served, including but not limited to:

  • Black writers
  • South Asian writers
  • Asian writers
  • Latinx writers
  • Disabled writers
  • Neurodivergent writers
  • Jewish writers
  • Muslim writers
  • Queer Writers
  • Nonbinary writers
  • Transgender writers
  • Multiracial writers
  • Native and Indigenous writers

Who has RWA protected and served?

  • White writers
  • Christian writers
  • Heterosexual writers
  • Cis-gendered writers

So who is RWA going to serve now?

As I said, I don’t know the answer to the question. But I do have requests for clarity regarding the January 9 statement.

“We hope you will join us in rebuilding RWA”

Rebuild what, exactly? Rebuild what and for whom? Rebuild the racist, discriminatory parts with additional discussions and consultants? If the past two weeks have partially dismantled (if not destroyed) RWA’s reputation and standing, what will we rebuild, if we rebuild with what’s left? Is there a foundation worth saving? I don’t think so. I think it’s got mold, termites, and asbestos beyond remediation.

“We believe this community is worth saving.”

Which community, specifically?

The community which had to fight to get RWA to respond appropriately to egregious abuses of power? That community isn’t in danger. It demonstrated its strength already.

The community that made so many people feel unsafe and unwelcome? That community has made it clear that RWA can’t serve everyone.

RWA can’t serve a large portion of its current membership and have a future that includes marginalized writers. Genuine change is not possible if the organization can’t identify and articulate who it serves and prioritizes, and then address and rectify the harm it has done.

In the absence of a clear statement of who RWA serves, it is left to the individual members, current, returning, or new, to ask who RWA serves, and if RWA serves them.

Categorized:

General Bitching...

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Danielle Flores says:

    Thank you for writing this. The lack of clarity and direct statements from RWA is beyond disappointing; while your direct and clear opinions and statements highlight all that is missing from RWA’s statement. Thank you for keeping us updated.

  2. 2
    SB Sarah says:

    @Danielle: Thank you. I really, really appreciate that!

  3. 3
    Msb says:

    Excellent summary and a really tough question. I’m just a reader, so really shouldn’t opine. This thorny issue seems to be the writers’ to settle. As a reader, the implosion at least introduced me to new writers, which is always good news. I do echo Courtney Milan’s shoutout to CIMRWA and its leaders, who forced the decisive resignations. Good luck to the forces of change.

  4. 4
    Demi says:

    As always, thank you to SBTB for weighing in on this mess with clear, thoughtful analysis. It’s comforting to me that this site remains so awesome, and if I’m being honest, nothing in Romancelandia is completely real to me until the Smart B*tches have spoken.
    I’ve been hesitant, as a reader and aspiring romance author, to join RWA for many reasons, and at this point, as soon as they say they’re “bringing in consultants”, I’m immediately wary.

  5. 5
    Jill Q. says:

    This is just my very long 2 cents from cheap seats (very cheap considering I let my RWA membership expire years ago and have never seriously considering rejoining), but I’m skeptical that RWA will really be able deliver any substantial change that will provide a safe, welcoming place for any marginalized voices. And I’m not part of any minority group, so I’m just speaking from my gut instincts of what I’ve observed, not from any real world lived experience.
    I may be in the cheap seats, but I’ve also been around Romancelandia a looooong time. The RWA always seems to have this problem with serious issues coming up, lip service is paid, and then it’s all glossed over in the names of “being nice” or the “sisterhood.” I remember many brouhahas (romance between one man and one woman is one of many that comes to mind, but I know there are many more both public and more privately discussed) I’m not discounting all the hard work many people have done at many levels to try to change things, but ultimately there seems to be an inertia, a lack of self-reflection (can you say that about an organization?) and no willingness to accept and learn from criticism. And maybe that would fly when publishing was a monolith and people had to rely on whisper networks to protect themselves. But those days are long gone.
    I don’t have any personal skin in the game (other than wanting writers to feel happy and safe so they can keep writing stories) but I certainly can’t blame anyone who greets this attempt with skepticism and doesn’t feel it’s enough. I can’t blame anyone who doesn’t fit in that “white cishet Christian” category for not trusting RWA. Trust has to be earned with deeds and RWA has fallen pretty short on that time after time. Like I said, just my 2 cents.

  6. 6
    Olivia Waite says:

    I’m just here to offer you an a standing ovation for the glorious coinage of membershit. It’s easily the best and most succinct term for my current feeling about RWA, as someone who’s been fighting for good in the forums, but whose dues don’t run out until July.

  7. 7
    Ella Portman says:

    RWA has to start from the foundation . Ask it self like you said Sarah the tough questions .In all honestly they need to cancel the San Diego Con and maybe into Tenn con 2021. This rebuild will take time . The new board needs to start like every great builder at the foundation .

  8. 8

    […] Link to the rest at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books […]

  9. 9
    Deianira says:

    I just started reading this, & I’ll go back to it so may have comments later, but as someone else who’s spent most of her professional life working with & for nonprofits, THANK YOU for the “Who does the organization serve?” question! It’s a fundamental one, but so often it’s not asked.

  10. 10
    Lizabeth S Tucker says:

    That pseudo-apology sounds eerily similar to the one that Wells Fargo has given every time they screw up. As Wells Fargo’s own attorneys have admitted, it is just so much puffery and shouldn’t be relied upon.

  11. 11
    Rhodered says:

    A. Damn right. B. You were great in NOT calling for WOC to come save us. I flinch every time a while woman tweets ‘be President’ at Courtney because CM has said nope and it’s time for her and others like her to take a break and focus on their own work, not fixing cishet white women’s messes. C. I agree we need to throw the whole thing out and start over, I think RWA is an awfully good analogy and test case for America as a whole and if throw it out is the answer, then geez.

    Anyhow, thank you for writing this. I was waiting for your thoughts with bated breath. You are the publisher of record in a lot of ways for this industry. And I trust your opinions and analysis a great deal.

  12. 12
    ReneeG says:

    I have depended on SBTB for most of my coverage during this sh!tshow, as well as the many links you’ve listed along the way. I have been stunned by the absence of genuine regret and apologies from RWA as well as how long that Suede tried to hang onto his illegal presidency, and eagerly checked in with SBTB to find out the latest every day. Thank you for the hard work of tracking this mess and helping those of us on the sidelines make sense of what was going on.

    I’ve been thinking these few weeks about if/how RWA could rebuild and, natural optimism aside, I’m not sure it can. The reasons you’ve outlined above pinpoint the enormous problem with a rebuild, because the foundation would still be flawed and untrustworthy.

    Where do the romance writers go from here? They do need a unified, trustworthy voice, but where are they going to find it?

    And as reader, what can I do besides supporting the authors who I believe are in the right (although my financial support is also limited)?

  13. 13
    Sharon says:

    I thought Alyssa Cole had the best response this morning to why women of color and their allies should walk away from toxic institutions in her article in the Washington Post. It’s on the Meghan and Harry walk-out on the royal family, but she ties it all back to institutional racism, including the recent disaster with RWA, and the romance HEA. Wonderful reading!

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/01/10/i-write-romance-meghan-wrote-this-chapter-way-i-would-because-racism/

  14. 14
    Lawless says:

    *standing ovation*

  15. 15
    Vicki Soloniuk says:

    Thanks for your continuing coverage helping to make whatever sense is possible of this situation. I am thinking that some people are so blinded by their privilege that they really can’t see the problem for the trees. I am hopeful that something good comes of this.

    I will say that I am looking up all the authors that comment and I have found some great, new-to-me writers with some good books. And diverse books. RWA may not be expanding its horizons but I hope to be expanding mine. My mom used to say something about silver linings; this may be one.

    Also, I am sure many of you, especially those on twitter have checked out the RWA website. romancewritersofamerica.com It’s worth a gander. And thanks to the elusive Chuck Tingle for that.

  16. 16
    Egged says:

    Thanks for writing this and framing so well the tension and contradictions between serving current membership and future/potential membership. I’m a reader so only a (very interested) observer of this fracas but have worked for many non profits so this rings very true. I’ve seen orgs transform but it takes years, and people ruthlessly working both the inside and the outside game.

    In one NP I worked at the old (racist) guard actually sued the org once the org started offering translation at meetings in an effort to better serve future (monolingual) members. Two decades later that org is at the forefront of immigrant and civil rights issues. But it can’t be understated what an insane amount of work and upheaval that took.

  17. 17
    Ava Jarvis says:

    What was burned to ashes in a couple weeks will take years of unrelenting self-examination and determination to rebuild.

    RWA’s leadership hasn’t got the guts or the humility to do it.

    And any marginalized person who tries to help? I wouldn’t be surprised if what happened to Milan happens again a year from now to anyone who tries.

    This all reminds me a lot of high tech, where I hailed from for many years. I’ve watched companies hollow out their marginalized advocates again and again. And the worst part is that many of us marginalized engineers were taught to believe that if we just leaned in enough, we could change the world.

    That didn’t happen.

    You know what did happen?

    The marginalized people were never promoted and/or were pushed out. I lost both the deep love I had for software dev as well as my ability to actually do it, due to trauma.

    These two weeks have caused a lot of trauma to many marginalized people. And for white folks who don’t ever self-introspect, our trauma doesn’t exist. We aren’t wholly human to them. We are pack mules, to do the work of holding up society while the white folks “cheer” us on.

    I don’t know how anyone is going to convince RWA leadership to start from scratch. If what happened over the past two weeks didn’t convince them to stop clinging to power and the status quo of diversity lip service, I doubt anything could.

    I’m probably unwise to talk about this stuff from the eyes of a multiply marginalized reader on the sidelines. I don’t know that anything I said will ever make a real difference, and I don’t know why I even try. I’m so tired. And in the end I know I don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

    But if I’m tired due to the reliving of my own trauma from fighting on the front lines of my previous disciplines, just think how the AoC involved in this mess feel. Just. Fuck. You know?

    Watching stuff like this … well. Trauma like this exists, whatever people might say.

    On the bright side, we are lucky the people who executed the coup were extremely incompetent, and have been so for many years.

  18. 18
    Charlotte says:

    Is there anything we the readers can do? I’m not a romance author and I don’t have the clout to boost the voices of the authors and RWA members protesting this shit.

    But we the readers are HEAVILY invested in reading a wide range of romances that speak to our experiences (and especially the experiences of people who might not be like us. Just because I’m white doesn’t mean I don’t value the voices of authors and MCs of color I can trust. The exact opposite is true!) RWA advocated for the authors, in theory, can the readers on the other side of the fence do the same? If so, how?

    I’m just not familiar enough with the orgs involved, I have no experiewnce with grassroots activism and I have no clout, I’m just a reader who wants to support the authors speaking up and demand much better representation in the genre, not just for myself but for others who need it much more than I personally do. And I know I’m not alone in this.

    Sarah, what do we DO???

  19. 19
    Qualisign says:

    By their own admission, RWA is only concerned with their/its own survival: “Our goal is to ensure the successful future of this association…”

    @SB Sarah, your assessment is dead on. The only way to fix the problem is to start over with a different association and this may be the (only) moment that could happen. Sometimes a renovation isn’t enough; the house has to be torn down and a new one — one that actually fits the needs — built on a different foundation.

    Thank you for all the energy you spent in keeping SB up to date. It cannot be easy. It’s hard reading it.

  20. 20
    Msb says:

    @ Charlotte
    “I have no clout.” I have felt the same, but I think we readers can do much in our arena. As Egged’s comment above indicated, structures and groups everywhere show the same problems. All of us are needed to tackle them wherever we are.
    We have the power of our purses, to buy books with diverse characters (to my shame, I have just started reading romances with diverse protagonists though I’ve done it for years in other genres) and works by AOC and others, and the power of our voices, to speak up in book groups, with friends and online, when something needs to be said – even if it makes us uncomfortable and/or unpopular. This requires us to be more proactive than before, and to leave another comfort zone behind, but I’m sure that will improve me, as well as the quality of my romance reading. I started by making a list of the authors who went to bat for the good guys during the sh!tshow, and starting to seek out their work.
    And other readers may have more useful suggestions.

  21. 21
    HeatherT says:

    Thank you for stating this so thoughtfully and eloquently, Sarah. I am with Charlotte — beyond the power of the purse, what can we as readers do to help something better take shape?

  22. 22
    Charlotte says:

    I’ve been kicking around a rough draft of a letter to current RWA leadership on behalf of the consumers in the romance community. I believe it’s a fair representation of how a lot of readers feel at the moment, but let me know what you think before I try and send it out into the wider internet

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1iRtj78qVGf1DIT1LZxpbxoXOFWLZV-5xq8tmOIN5EdI/edit?usp=sharing

  23. 23
    No, The Other Anne says:

    @Charlotte
    I think you nailed it. This, especially:
    “We are additionally angered on our own behalf, those of us who were denied representation of our own voice as well as those who were denied a chance to learn about the experiences and voices of others with different life experiences from our own.”
    If you decide to put your letter in petition form, as another deeply concerned reader, I would absolutely sign.

  24. 24
    Star says:

    @Charlotte Seconding @No, The Other Anne, and I would also absolutely sign if you decide to send this out as a petition.

  25. 25
    SB Sarah says:

    I think if you’re asking “what more can I do,” you’re already on the path to doing something. Examining your own patterns of behavior is a major first step in change and improvement, and it makes me feel extremely welcome and safe to hang out here, as I ask this question of myself all the time – and this is my own comments section, so please roll your eyes at me if you like. Looking at who you read, and what you read, and seeking out more of what you haven’t read before: that’s all part of making the romance genre more inclusive and welcoming, and making your own experience in the genre better and better. I don’t know what effect a reader letter would have on the current RWA leadership as they aren’t in the business of directly serving romance readers, but it absolutely never hurts to speak out when someone commits a fuckery.

    Thank you so, so much for the compliments and thanks you’ve expressed here. The past two-plus weeks have been ridiculous and exhausting to cover, and I am one of several who attempted to do so. I really appreciate that you came here for info and some analysis, and I’m very, very thankful that you are part of this community.

    One more thing, and I say this with utmost kindness and affection: no one is ever “just” a reader. This site exists to connect romance readers with one another. You are why this site exists! You are not “just” a reader. You are THE reader. And please know that I value your presence here so incredibly much. <3

  26. 26
    Lisa F says:

    I have no idea where the RWA goes from this point, to be honest. What will be fascinating to watch what happens, and who’s elected to the head of the proverbial line.

  27. 27
    Suzy K (not a professional writer) says:

    from the peanut gallery:

    I tried to think about how RWA could change… thinking, history, etc., but all I could see is that change wasn’t going to happen. The only thing that could change is the name.

    My suggestion: WCRWA: White Christian Romance Writers in American (USA?)

    For a new organization (name probably taken) Romantic Stories Guild.

    This would include writers of all shades of ethnicity, types of romance, genders, and cultures. I used guild because that reflects that those who work in a field often had a professional group (union or certifying entity) called a guild.

    Just my 1.5 cents worth.

  28. 28
    Suzy K says:

    Just adding: The guild would (should) also welcome readers

  29. 29
    Clytemnestra’s Sister says:

    What shocks me the most about the Big Incident (not the decades of racism before it) is…this whole thing could have been avoided with a few phone calls, a trained crisis communicator/mediator, a pointed reminder of the inclusiveness policy, and RWA following their own procedures. Instead, RWA went down with a bang AND blundering blather.

    It could have stopped with a phone call saying, knock it off. It could have stopped with a mediator sticking up for Ms Milan and gently reinforcing RWA’s written policies plus the knock it off phone call. It could even have stopped with the entire Ethics Committee and the mediator present, rather than a hand-picked stacked panel. But nooooo, they had to try so hard to avoid public loss of face of someone who was doing something shitty that they blew up everything.

    I’m reminded of Atwood’s comment about men are afraid women will laugh at them, women are afraid men will kill them. Milan’s “sin” is that she didn’t bow and scrape to support the perceived authority of a white woman. Said white woman reacted with a huge show of force to try to professionally decimate Milan’s career. It’s not quite the same thing as literal murder, but the underlying power dynamic is the same.

  30. 30
    Msb says:

    @ Charlotte (22)
    Wow, that’s great! I’d absolutely sign it.

    @Clytemnestra’s Sister
    Well, yes, that would have prevented the leading fiasco is it had been an unintentional screw-up. But it seems have been an attempt to stop the anti-racists by silencing one of their leading voices. And once we’ll into the mess, Suede at all just doubled down.

  31. 31
    Ren Benton says:

    @Suzy K: One of the numerous problems with RWA is that some members want a professional advocacy organization while others treat it like a social club, which goes to Sarah’s question: Whom does this organization serve? It’s already a mess trying to juggle the often conflicting goals of a membership consisting of working writers, aspiring writers, publishers, agents, librarians, PR folks… It’s trying to be everything to everybody in the publishing industry and failing all of them at some level for lack of focus. There is no way it can also serve readers, who vastly outnumber everyone in publishing. Readers deserve to have their voices heard, but the place for it isn’t a professional writers’ organization.

  32. 32
    kat_blue says:

    “Is there a foundation worth saving? I don’t think so. I think it’s got mold, termites, and asbestos beyond remediation.”
    This. To me the most shocking thing isn’t that two white women tried to hit a woman of color with accusations of racism because she called out their racism. It’s that there were ethics complaints disappearing for who-knows-how-long before Milan’s unusual case finally got the (actual) ethics committee to realize they’d been played. It’s the way someone not qualified by the organization’s own bylaws was allowed to take power and hang onto it until forced out, all while screaming that he’d bring the organization down with him, rather than being prevented from taking the position in the first place. What purpose do the bylaws serve if they’re not enforced? What else has been overlooked because someone held a position of power, or been covered up because someone DIDN’T have the power to expose it? This wasn’t a sudden collapse, this has been around for a long time.

  33. 33
    No, The Other Anne says:

    Any word among the Bitchery on the new Romance Alliance community? A writer friend tipped me off:
    https://twitter.com/theromanceall?lang=en

    I am unfortunately suspicious of the word “ally” but maybe they are ok? It does have sort of a Rebel Alliance/Star Wars-y feel…

  34. 34
    Carolyn says:

    I support the creation of a new organization, Suzy’s suggestion of the Romantic Stories Guild.

  35. 35
    RachaeltheLibrarian says:

    I’m a librarian and have followed your site closely for about a year. One of my main goals in being hired was to increase the diversity of the collection. (And I’ve gotten wonderful feedback!)
    I was going to travel to the RWA conference this year, but since this has come out, I don’t know what to do!

    Keep up the great work!

  36. 36
    Stephanie H. says:

    Every.last.word.

    As an executive in nonprofit philanthropy and fundraising, one of the first questions you ask is about audience, the “whom do you serve?” one. You are spot on in your going to the heart of the matter. If RWA cannot answer that question, and really get to the truth on their decades of institutional racism etc, there’s nothing to rebuild. The “truth” in truth and reconciliation starts with getting to deep down to the roots of an issue and all that comes with it. There can be no rebuilding or welcoming without facing, understanding, listening, owning, the truth. Thank you, as always for your clear voice.
    Stephanie
    #professionalromancefan

  37. 37
    Isi says:

    Thank you for all your thoughts! I’ve been following this while debacle on twitter and I think I’ve learned so much (as a reader, a white woman from a country where whiteness is still the norm) about systematic racism and the struggles of minorities that I, in my position of privilege, never mind how open-minded I am, never even hear about or notice. So I hope that it has changed at least that, in all those readers who care about these issues but are stuck in their own little bubble. I, too, will seek out more diverse books – and if I don’t like them (because I’m too damned picky) I’ll have at least given a bit of my money to this cause.
    ‘No, the other Anne: I actually only commented (but them got distracted with my own thoughts) because I wanted to link you to the discussion on twitter about the romance alliance. Seems there are similar problems (white women expecting cookies for diversity, members seeing it more as a social club than a professional organisation). https://twitter.com/courtneymilan/status/1216092372767006722?s=19

  38. 38
    Carolyn says:

    I am one of the now-despised socioeconomic group of Privileged White People. This is the world unto which I was born, and I have suffered my own issues within it. As an individual, I’ve always been open to otherness, finding it interesting and educational, and part of my personal belief in Peace On Earth, Good Will to All Creatures; but like most ethnic groups, I’m inclined to interact with my own kind for comfort and familiarity. This is beside the point. What I’d like to convey is that I’ve been an indie professional in the publishing industry for many decades, and I’ve noticed that the romance side of the industry has been vigorusly active in accepting and promoting otherness. The only other group to come close has been SF/F. I find this very exciting, because I believe literature in particular, and the arts in general, are at the forefront of social change, era after era. In art lies truth. The RWA shakeup is consistent with so much else going on in the USA and globally, and I would love to see a phoenix rise from its ashes, preferably a new organization. (As mentioned in a previous comment, I love the idea of a Romantic Stories Guild.) Heretofore I’ve had no reason to pay dues to RWA, even though I am a hybrid romance writer and professional editor who helps romance and other authors pursue their publishing goals. Part of this era’s difficulties is having no place to put my voice, my passion, my action — a problem shared by many. If any of you among us have strong leadership and organizational abilities, why not go for it now?

  39. 39
    No, The Other Anne says:

    @Isi: Yikes. Thanks for that info.

  40. 40
    EC Spurlock says:

    Well put, Sarah. RWA or a variation thereof really does need to be rebuilt from the ground up, and the question does become one of is this truly a service organization helping others who are starting out, and thus ensuring its own future? Or just a bunch of successful, self-righteous people sitting around congratulating themselves? Really a whole new steering committee needs to be elected and the bylaws thoroughly rewritten, but then it becomes a chicken-and-egg scenario: elect the board or rewrite the bylaws first? And who do we feel trustworthy and competent enough to do either?

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