Monday, 6 January 2020

Weekly Update: December 29 to Jan 4 (My RWA Statement)

Weekly word count: 3297

A pretty good week writing wise (despite the ongoing chaos with RWA national).  I've been focusing on Best Face Forward, which I'm hoping to pitch to Carina when they visit our local chapter in February.  I should have it polished and ready to go.

On Sunday, January 5, our local chapter held a town hall to discuss what has been happening at the national level with RWA.  ORWA will be putting together an official statement so I won't pre-empt that here.

However, I will make the following statement about what my intentions and stance are.

I do not support the Ethics Committee's decision to censure Courtney Milan.  I am deeply troubled by the language and substance of the complaint against her, as well as the apparent deviance from standard procedures.  The current administration of RWA has lost my trust.

That said, I am not giving up without a fight.  I am maintaining my RWA membership in order to have a voice in the restructuring and to continue to fight for diversity and inclusion.  I did not have a submission in the RITA but had signed up to be a RITA judge.  I will not withdraw as a judge, even though I believe the only ethical choice is to cancel the RITAs for this year.

I want RWA to be a safe space for all people, regardless of race, sexual orientation, disability, or any other marginalized identity.  I want it to represent the true best of the romance genre.  And I'm willing to fight to make sure that happens.

However, if RWA can't turn this around and resume moving in the right direction, they will lose me as a member.  I won't be a part of a group which is hateful or which uses their policies to target and silence individuals.  Up until December 23rd, I have genuinely believed that RWA was moving in the right direction.  I hope it is not too late to resume that journey.

It's hard to believe that it has been less than two weeks since the news first broke on Twitter.  There is a lot of speculation out there.  Personally, I don't endorse conspiracy theories.  I don't believe anyone manipulated events to create this result.  Sadly, I believe it is far more likely that this is the result of insular groupthink and overly strong egos who cannot admit when they have made a significant error.  And even worse, racism almost certainly played a strong part in how events played out, whether deliberate or unconscious.

I have nothing but respect for those who have chosen to cancel memberships or withdraw their books or judging from the RITAs.  I also respect those who have chosen to resign from various positions within RWA.  I'm sure t can't have been an easy decision and I'm also sure it was a choice of last resort for many.  I also have respect for those who have chosen to stay and try to make the RWA into what it should be.

Maybe some of the calls online are right and this is a doomed attempt.  Maybe the problems are too ingrained to fight.  But I take heart from historical precedence.  The worst backlashes are the final ones before social change takes permanent hold.  They are a desperate attempt to regain the status quo and have historically pushed the majority into realizing just how bad things are and how much they need to change.  So I hope this is the last failing gasp of those who have used their privilege to actively suppress others.  And if I'm wrong, then I will take what comfort I can from having done all I could to make a difference.

That's where I stand.  Against bigotry.  Against racism.  Against ableism.  Against homophobia and transphobia.  And against anyone who seeks to quash the less privileged down to make themselves feel better.  In the words of Peggy Carter, I'm planting myself like a tree and they can be the ones to move.  

This is my place.  Not theirs.

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