RWA (Romance Writers of America) is a mess right now. It’s hard to take a turn without hearing more about what a shambles the organization is in. So naturally, I’ve been thinking about it a lot.
I’m not here to rehash the scandal. You can Google it, or read any syndicated newsletter, or check out Twitter. But there are a few things, personally, I want to say.
- The RWA needs transparency. So much of its operation is carried out behind closed doors. No, I don’t want to watch a live stream of board meetings, but I do think it’s important that members are kept informed about what happens. As a voting member, I don’t want the redacted version. I don’t want the recap.
- The RWA needs accountability. The “explanations” they’ve sent out have largely pointed fingers at other members, accusing them of acting inappropriately. Excuse the fuck out of me, but why should any organization that won’t take responsibility for their own actions be listened to when they chastise their members?
- The RWA needs a total overhaul at the top. There’s a lot being said about current president Damon Suede. I only met him once and he might be a really nice guy or he might not. What I do know is that he’s the one at the top. That means he’s the one who needs to speak on behalf of all RWA and he needs to do it well and eloquently. So far, he’s done neither. Dude, you’re a writer. Take a note from Hamilton and write your way out if you must. But please note that we are also writers, and we’re onto all the tricks. Sometimes, for the greater good, a person has to let go of their own power position. Yes, I did sign the recall petition.
- Romance writers don’t need to belong to RWA to write, read, or become published. RWA is a professional organization currently acting in a wholly unprofessional manner. As a result, I’ve decided that I don’t need them. I don’t need their annual conference. I don’t need to renew my membership to keep writing my stories. I don’t need their half-assed attempts at explaining their poor behavior. I don’t need their promises to work on stopping the long-standing racist nature of the organization. I don’t need to stand behind them any longer. What I do need is for them to effect change immediately. A new charter, a new board, a new openness.
I realize that not everyone will agree with me here, and that’s fine. But when those accused of harmful behavior decide it’s better to do some tone policing than to admit their faults or complicity, I say the time is up. Would I love to see RWA reinvent itself? You bet your ass I would. But I can no longer support or be part of an organization whose leadership tells us one thing and does the opposite.