Over the holidays and New Year’s, I was keeping my eyes peeled on Twitter because on December 23rd, Alyssa Cole tweeted a thread with documents about her friend Courtney Milan and a kerfuffle with the Romance Writers of America.
Basically, what happened–as far as anyone knew on December 23rd–was that there had been a complaint lodged with the Romance Writers of America’s Ethics Commitee against Courtney Milan, because some months ago, she tweeted that a book, originally published in the 1990s but then re-released in 2014, was “a fucking racist mess.” Somehow, this complaint went to a committee who ruled that Courtney Milan should be kicked out of RWA for a year and be banned from holding all leadership positions for a lifetime.
Well since then, this fucking mess has morphed. It’s, like, honestly–nobody could write this:
- The author is an editor for someone else who also filed a complaint against Courtney Milan
- The book Milan criticized on Twitter “was thirty years old,” so everyone kept saying–and featured really problematic descriptions and content of a Chinese heroine, apparently. Milan is half-Chinese.
- It later turned out that the book was re-released in 2014, so, uh, that shit could’ve been updated
- Also, if someone points out racism in your book, just say sorry, I didn’t understand, I will try better next time
- The author claimed Milan’s comments on Twitter caused the author to lose a publishing contract (This has turned out to be false)
- The fact that this complaint was heard by some subcommittee that no one on the Ethics Committee knew about
- Most of the RWA board resigned in protest
- A trending hashtag: #IStandWithCourtney
- The President of the RWA board also resigned, leaving the President-Elect in charge
As a romance reader, I became aware of RWA probably in college. I knew the authors I liked reading belonged to this organization. I knew they held conferences. I contemplated joining RWA someday, if my writing ever showed my inclination for romance novels clearly. As I’ve followed more and more of Romancelandia on Twitter, I’ve become more aware of RWA as well–I even went to the Literacy Signing, open to the public, at RWA last summer.
But even though I’ve been reading romance since I was quite young, there were plenty of times I grew tired of the same old thing, especially in historical romance. Why are they all dukes and why are they all white? I found Courtney Milan’s books as I was finding other, more diverse historical romance to read and she is one of my favorite authors.
Plus, her Twitter feed is hilarious and informative.
Following the developments has actually given me a cursory education in non-profit management, publicity, publishing, law…
These were the blogs I was glued to last week:
And this one, which is an updated timeline of pretty much every twist and turn of this saga:
The Implosion of the RWA.