Just when we thought the New Year would bring a fresh start in 2019 shenanigans, Romance Writers of America attempted to drop a sneak diss against Authors of Color. If you are unaware of the inciting incident that led to the implosion of RWA all the drama can be found under the Twitter hashtags, #IStandWithCourtney and #RWAShitShow.
To be complete honest, as a black female author I was unsurprised by the attempts to silence and discredit an author of color by an establishment that had proven time and again that voices of color are not their priority. (see #RITASoWhite). Likewise, I was not surprised by all the NWL’s calls for “calm” explanations of the trauma inflicted by their inability or unwillingness to accept systemic racism and microaggressions exist.
If anything, the entire situation is a prime example of how far people are willing to go to invalidate the accomplishments and concerns of marginalized groups. RWA circumvented their own bylaws to punish an author of color for calling out a racist book, attempted to lie to their own membership about the reason behind their shady behavior, offered a non apology and made several statements filled with veiled threats against any member who continued to speak out against the board. Even going so far as to attempt to stop a petition demanding the resignation of Damon Suede and recall of all board members involved.
I was hesitant to join RWA because of my own experiences with racism, both blatant and systemic that I saw within the organization. I joined last year when I saw that there were people stepping up to correct the wrongs of previous years. I volunteered to judge the RITA in order to promote diverse perspectives in the judges pool. I submitted my novel, Ferocious, in the hopes that it would be judged just as fairly as my non poc counterparts works. My hope for a more diverse and inclusive RWA has proven to be a mistake.
There is only so much fight and effort that I can expend on one thing and RWA has officially tapped me out. I have withdrawn my intent to judge as well as my entry of Ferocious. Which at this point doesn’t matter as the numerous other authors and participants have taken a similar stance the RITA Awards have been cancelled. I am still a current member because I want my recall vote to count but I have no intention to renew my membership when it is up.
RWA is a sinking ship with its current leadership turning it further out to sea when the shore was still within reach. At this point, I’m glad I am safely on the shores and not at all saddened to see it go.
Full Timeline of Events can be found in this article