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Romance Writers of America Sets Itself on Fire Over the Christmas Holidays

Picture of Courtney Milan

It seems that there has been an instance of spontaneous combustion at Romance Writers of America. On December 23rd, Romance Writers of America sent Courtney Milan, a NY Times best-selling author and one of their former board members, a formal document informing her that she had been unanimously censured and suspended from the organization for a lengthly back and forth on Twitter this summer involving a small publisher and two of their editors whom Milan had called out for racism. This was surprising because Milan had previously been on the RWA board and worked to make changes in the organization regarding racism. She had also been one of the creators of the RWA Ethics Committee, the same Committee who just censured her.

The basics of RWA’s actions can be found in this post from Smartbitches, who managed to write and post this all before Christmas Eve.

The next day RWA tweeted informing us that they had had an emergency meeting on Christmas Eve and that they had decided to rescind the previous decision while awaiting legal review.

On Christmas Day we learned that the “unanimous” vote of this committee was not a vote of the Ethics Committee but an ad hoc committee that had been thrown together because Milan had previously been on the Ethics Committee. At this time, we don’t know who was on the ad hoc committee who voted “unanimously” to censure Milan. And now there are rumors that the “unanimous” vote wasn’t “unanimous” at all.

Meanwhile, some RWA members have been hashtaging #IStandwithCourtney and saying that they will be leaving the organization, cancelling their membership, and returning RITA awards. The hashtag even trended on Twitter and a weird version of the story made Perez Hilton. Articles about this appeared in The New York Post and The MarySue.

The following day a note was sent out by what remains of the board of the RWA (because nine members of the current board have resigned over this --President Carolyn Jewel, and Board Members Denny S. Bryce, Pintip Dunn, Seressia Glass, Tracey Livesay, Adrienne Mishel, Priscilla Oliveras, Erica Ridley and Farrah Rochon). There is now talk of forming a new organization for romance writers, as well as a circulating a petition to recall the remaining elected RWA board members.

But no matter how you look at it, it is now a huge bonfire.

This episode saddens most of us in the romance community. Emojis of broken hearts can be found by many tweets on this subject. Many are angry because it feels like more of the same problems and policies of the post.

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