Sunday, February 9, 2020

You have to stand for something...

Growing up my mother often told us that we had to "stand for something, or we'd fall for anything." She always encouraged us to live our convictions through our choices. Through out my life I've always asked myself whether what I'm doing is aligned with who I want to be. I am careful about where I spend my dollars and I am careful about where I spent my time.

The Romance Writer's of America became embroiled in a scandal in late 2019 that had been brewing for many years. The scandal broke because of the way the organization's institutional racism drove them to punish Coutney Milan, a prominent anti-racism force on the board of directors. Everything that happened after that initial decision reinforced that the organization had no real remorse and no plans to change the institutional processes and culture that led to their racist actions.

Because of the in late 2019 I resigned from the Romance Writer's of America (RWA). It was not a hard decision because I knew it was absolutely the right thing to do. It has been, and continues to be, hard to lose the connection and community that RWA provided to me as an aspiring writer. I met my critique partners in a local chapter. I attended and even spoke at a national conference. I entered many RWA contests, attended regional events and conferences in more than one state and I owe much of my growth as a writer to the feedback and insights I received through these experiences. I've learned and grown as a writer because of RWA.

And, yet, that growth may have come at the expense of marginalized people. My growth came at the expense of the safety and inclusion of people of color. It came through an organization that has struggled to free itself of racism, anti-semitism and homophobia. And, that can't be something I stand by and allow. I have to use my voice and take my investment elsewhere.

I'm disappointed in the organization and a substantial chunk of our membership, and I'm disappointed in myself that I didn't take the time to understand more fully what was happening in this organization that I paid dues to and supported.

I thank Courtney Milan for all she did to try to create a change, and I will continue to follow her lead and do my best to have her back as a writer and a woman, though we have never met.

If you haven't read the complete history of how we got to this moment where many of us can no longer belong to this organization check out this blog: https://www.claireryanauthor.com/blog/2019/12/27/the-implosion-of-the-rwa