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Old 01-01-2020, 08:14 AM   #1
hildea
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Romance Writers of America implodes over handling of criticism of racism

Note: This topic may be seen as political, but since it's definitively related to books I hope it won't be moved to the Politics and Religion subforum.

Romance Writers of America (RWA) is a trade organization for (you guessed it) romance writers. It's currently having a dramatic meltdown over their handling of racism and other bigotry.

What's happened is briefly:
  • In August, a publisher (Susan Tisdale) files an ethics complaint in RWA against an author (Courtney Milan), because Milan (among others) has criticised Tisdale for keeping an aquisition editor on staff who has a history of supporting racist statements.
  • Later an author (Kathryn Lynn Davis) files an ethics complaint against Milan for describing one of Davis' books as racist.
  • The ethics complaints are handled by RWA in an irregular way (the regular etics committee is bypassed and a special committee appointed). After recommendation from the etics committee, the board votes to suspend Milan from RWA for a year, and gives her a lifetime ban on holding office in RWA.
  • When this desicion becomes public in late December, it is massively criticised. A lot of people leave their offices in RWA, and a lot of members leave. The board reverses its desicion.
  • There is now a lot of criticism of how RWA's board has handled this situation, a petition to recall the president-elect has been submitted, signed by more than 10% of the members, and there is discussion on whether RWA can be salvaged or a new trade organization is needed.
(A lot more details and links here:https://www.claireryanauthor.com/blo...ion-of-the-rwa )

It will be interesting to see how this plays out!

Last edited by hildea; 01-01-2020 at 09:02 AM. Reason: Typos
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Old 01-01-2020, 08:52 AM   #2
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The Guardian has a good article on this.

Last edited by doreenjoy; 01-01-2020 at 09:18 AM.
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Old 01-01-2020, 11:36 AM   #3
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Wow, it sounds like this whole organization needs to disband and everyone go their own way!
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Old 01-01-2020, 12:18 PM   #4
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I guess there isn't a lot of love left in Romance!
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Old 01-01-2020, 02:09 PM   #5
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Simple. This is political correctness run amuck. It always runs amuck. That is why I shun political correctness at every turn.
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Old 01-01-2020, 02:23 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by haertig View Post
Simple. This is political correctness run amuck. It always runs amuck. That is why I shun political correctness at every turn.
I just don't see it. I think you are making a lazy argument not supported by the facts.
  • An author accuses a publisher of making racist statements.
  • The publisher takes actions to get the author banned from their trade organization.
  • The facts come to light and everyone gets angry.

There's no political correctness involved. You can't just go painting everything with a broad brush like that.
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Old 01-01-2020, 04:21 PM   #7
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Wow, it sounds like this whole organization needs to disband and everyone go their own way!
Well, a trade organisation is obviously useful. And this one has about 3 million dollars, I can see why people who have spent time and money building it up are reluctant to abandon it to racists without a fight. Especially since there's some evidence of creative financial acrobatics from the president-elect.
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Old 01-01-2020, 05:34 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by hildea View Post
...has criticised Tisdale for keeping an aquisition editor on staff who has a history of supporting racist statements.
So nothing specifically against Tisdale herself/himself... and what does a "history of supporting racist statements" mean exactly? How do you support a racist statement?

Not knowing the specifics, this looks a lot like a personal spat where (what used to be called) the "race card" is being used to damage the reputation of an enemy. In other words, just scanning this, it looks like they're "gaming the system."
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Old 01-01-2020, 06:03 PM   #9
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The Guardian has a good article on this.
Link please?

Charlie.
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Old 01-01-2020, 06:22 PM   #10
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So nothing specifically against Tisdale herself/himself... and what does a "history of supporting racist statements" mean exactly? How do you support a racist statement?

Not knowing the specifics, this looks a lot like a personal spat where (what used to be called) the "race card" is being used to damage the reputation of an enemy. In other words, just scanning this, it looks like they're "gaming the system."
That's pretty much my take also.
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Old 01-01-2020, 06:26 PM   #11
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Link please?

Charlie.
Quick Google search came up with A romance novelist spoke out about racism. An uproar ensued.

This one seems to have started with Courtney Milan criticizing Kathryn Lynn Davis for her portrayal of Chinese women -- "a fucking racist mess" to quote Ms. Milan's Twitter page linked in the Guardian article.

I looked at the sample and while the portrayal of Chinese women would not be acceptable in a modern setting, this is supposedly a historical novel given the opening set in 1879. A time in which the passage of the Married Women's Property Act was less than 10 years in the past.

Last edited by DNSB; 01-01-2020 at 06:35 PM. Reason: Got around to checking out the sample.
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Old 01-01-2020, 07:04 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by rcentros View Post
So nothing specifically against Tisdale herself/himself... and what does a "history of supporting racist statements" mean exactly? How do you support a racist statement?

Not knowing the specifics, this looks a lot like a personal spat where (what used to be called) the "race card" is being used to damage the reputation of an enemy. In other words, just scanning this, it looks like they're "gaming the system."
You could get the specifics by reading the article linked in the first post. Then there are links to follow from there. Be warned, it can become a rabbit hole. I was reading and researching until I thought "What am I doing? I really don't give a crap about this!"
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Old 01-01-2020, 07:17 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by ZodWallop View Post
[*]An author accuses a publisher of making racist statements.
[*]The publisher takes actions to get the author banned from their trade organization.
Sorry, but where did you get these statements from?

From what I read, Milan accused a book of containing harmful racial stereotypes, not a publisher, nor even an author.

The author and another author who founded an independent publishing house filed complaints with the RWA saying that Milan's comments had hurt their careers (lost contracts). Milan was chair of the RWA’s ethics committee at the time.

I didn't read anywhere that they tried to get her banned from the RWA. The author involved said she was shocked at the harshness of the RWA punishment, and that she only wanted an apology.
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Old 01-01-2020, 11:29 PM   #14
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Sorry, but where did you get these statements from?

From what I read, Milan accused a book of containing harmful racial stereotypes, not a publisher, nor even an author.
Milan accused Tisdale (as an author) of racist portrayals in a novel she wrote and (as a publisher) of supporting an employee (Sue Grimshaw) who had been accused of making racist statements.

Quote:
I didn't read anywhere that they tried to get her banned from the RWA.
That I got from here: The Ethics Committee... finds against Milan... and recommends a punishment of one year’s suspension of membership and lifetime ban on holding leadership positions in the RWA.
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Old 01-01-2020, 11:39 PM   #15
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Milan accused Tisdale (as an author) of racist portrayals in a novel she wrote and (as a publisher) of supporting an employee (Sue Grimshaw) who had been accused of making racist statements.
What racist statements did Sue Grimshaw make? From what I've read, she put African-American Romance books in the African-American section of Borders, and she has "liked" right-wing tweets, such as anti-Elizabeth Warren, ICE raid and Pro-Trump tweets.

Last edited by Pajamaman; 01-01-2020 at 11:56 PM.
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