Sunday, January 5, 2020

My Resignation

I don’t tend to air my grievances publicly, and in my professional life, I stay out of most conflicts and drama, preferring to observe before I draw conclusions. However, in this case, I have decided to speak out.

After careful consideration, I have decided to withdraw my membership from my national writers organization, the Romance Writers of America. As a result, I will no longer be able to maintain my membership with my local chapter, the New Jersey Romance Writers, since membership in the national organization is required.

I do this with a heavy heart. However, I can no longer be involved in an organization that repeatedly treats writers of color and of diverse backgrounds as less worthy than its white writers. I have watched the national organization make significant and egregious errors multiple times, and each time I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt, since no one is perfect and we all make mistakes. However, despite giving it numerous chances, it continues to treat marginalized writers poorly and show a preference for white authors.

I won’t stand by and watch that happen. There is entirely too much hate in this world for me to let this go by unchecked. I won’t pay money to support an organization that does this. There is guilt by association, and I do not want my continued membership to be looked upon as tacit agreement or complicity in its actions. Therefore, I am announcing to my fellow writers and readers that I am no longer a member of the Romance Writers of America.

I hope to be able to join them again in the future, when and if they overhaul their practices. I have truly appreciated the wealth of knowledge and experience the organization has given me. And I’ve loved meeting so many talented writers. But until the organization changes its practices in a measurable and consistent way, I’m on my own--but in very good company.

19 comments:

  1. We agree with you 100% and stand by you and other former RWA authors. We will not tolerate racism of any kind.

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  2. I understand your views Jennifer. I am hoping things will turn around. And I am hanging in, mostly because I believe our NJ chapter is wonderful. We're very inclusive.

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    1. I do love NJRW, although I believe it can always improve. They've made a good start.

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  3. You've expressed things wonderfully in an enormously bad and distasteful situation. I'm sorry for all of us. This debacle has been brewing for a long time with RWA. I hope the organization can take a good, hard look at what transpired, clean house board wise and staff wise, and maybe, maybe rebuild trust of its members...if possible. I know in my heart NJRW includes good people.

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  4. That unknown was me, Nicole Doran - my name didn't publish. Hugs, Jen.

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  5. Jen, you're absolutely right. There is too much hate in our world. One must take a stand somewhere and declare dissociation from the prejudice, the unfairness, the ridicule. I respect you for your stand!

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  6. I totally agree with you, Jennifer. Yet we must get to the core of how this all started. And we must all stop assuming how the other person feels/stands on positions, etc. Until we have walked in their shoes, we cannot judge. I could say more, but will refrain.

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  7. Jennifer, I'd renewed my RWA membership shortly before the storm broke. I've withdrawn my RITA entry and have withdrawn from the judging pool. Our local RWA chapter has voted to give the issue three months before deciding whether to remain affiliated with the RWA. As an officer in two chapters this year, I've decided to honor those commitments until my membership expires. At that point, if things have not radically improved at the national level, I'll leave RWA. I was really looking forward to attending the national conference in San Francisco this year, but now--no way.

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    1. I wish you the best of luck with your decisions.

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  8. I just renewed my membership in November, but I choose to stay in and see what happens by the end of the year. RWA has a track record of firestorms. Personally, on the PAN loop, I notice an appetite for hostility, and I see that many PAN members are not posting, afraid (I believe)to comment for fear of having people pile on them. I also noticed the same people repeatedly post again and again and again. I just ordered a used copy of "Somewhere Lies the Moon," (because it hasn't been edited) and so I can make my own decision about it. Have you read it, and what particular sections bother you so I can be on the lookout for them? Until there's a clear understanding of what occurred and legal review of the entire situation, I'll just sit tight and keep on waiting...and writing.

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    1. I replied in more detail via email, Judy. My decision was based on RWA's actions--several of them--and not on the book. I wish you all the best with your writing.

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  9. Hi Jennifer,

    I believe there are more people who want the right kind of change to happen in RWA. Fighting for diversity and inclusion is a fight I fight in all organizations I'm a part of. At my age, I have the mental resource to stay in the fight, so I'll be staying. I'm looking forward to the independent audit report so I'll have the clarity and distance to review their observations and then as a member of RWA make their recommendations are enacted. Sometimes it takes a catastrophe for real change to happen. This is RWA's catastrophe. Just look at the list of agents letting RWA know they don't want to be associated with them if things don't change. Because of pressure from within and from without I'm hopeful this is the tipping point for the beginning of genuine change and growth in RWA.

    I've enjoyed getting to know you in NJRW and will keep following your writing with great interest.

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    1. I replied in detail to you via email, Anna. But as I've said, I've loved getting to know you as well and love your books.

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  10. I resigned, too, only a few days after I'd paid my dues. It breaks my heart, but I don't feel either the organization or I have anything left to offer each other.

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