Thursday, January 9, 2020

A high level view of the RWA fiasco

As Across the Board's resident romance writer, I feel compelled this week to write about the ongoing situation with Romance Writers of America. What situation, you ask? Well, buckle in. And get ready to follow some links that explain all of this WAY better than I can.

If you spend any time on Twitter, you're probably not unfamiliar with the ongoing drama with Romance Writers of America. Even if you're not on Twitter, the #RWAShitshow has been covered by Vulture, The New York Post, and more recently, Entertainment Weekly, who reported on RWA's decision to cancel the Rita's - the romance industry's annual writing awards. There is a lot of speculation about whether cancelling the RWA National Conference is next. As of yesterday several major publishers - including Harlequin, Avon, Sourcebooks and Entangled - have indicated that they will neither attend or sponsor this year's annual conference. Agents have disassociated and members have left en masse.

I have capital-T thoughts on everything that's happened, but before we get to that...

For a very thorough timeline of events, I've not found a better one than Claire Ryan's here. 

Where Claire Ryan's timeline leaves off, @Romancesparksjoy on Twitter picks up

For specific timelines, I recommend 
@courtneymilan, @Alyssa_Day and @AlyssaColeLit.  
All have been immersed in this situation from Day 1.

Also, Jami Gold's blog post offers an insightful look at the problems with RWA and why
they should matter to ALL writers.

I have NOT been immersed in from Day 1 and as a former member of 
RWA, I have no voting power in the current situation. However, that does 
not mean it doesn't impact me.

When a national association is revealed to be racist, anti-LGBT and ableist, 
that impacts us all. When said national association has received criticism for lack of 
diversity, equality and inclusion in its previous awards and makes award judges 
complete DEI training, but does not embrace those principles at the highest levels, 
that impacts us all. And then when the same national association's first magazine of 
2020 comes out in the midst of this whole controversy and shows a white woman 
pulling a woman of color up a mountain - knowing full well the cover image was 
chosen months ago and no one thought anything was wrong with that image 
at the time - that impacts us all.

I love writing romance and I love being part of the romance community. I love the fact
that so many authors, agents and publishers are taking a stand against this behavior.
What I don't love? That this type of prejudice is still so insidious. 
That there is discriminatory behavior to be called out. That this has reached the highest 
level of an organization I, and many authors, once held in great esteem.

Many more issues have come to light since this whole mess has started, and whether RWA 
can recover is very much in question. One thing is certain, however. If it does manage
to live to see another day, it will be need to be a very different organization.
For everyone.


Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

I'd be curious to see how other writer organizations are following, this particularly those in the crime fic/thrillers arena. I imagine leadership there having to do some serious soul searching and self reflection.

Brenda St John Brown said...

So true! I have to be honest, I don't know how other organizations are dealing with similar issues, but it certainly is a glaring example of what NOT to do.

Blogger Template by Designer Blogs