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Romance Writers of America Addresses the Elephant in the Room


As more and more companies and publishing-related businesses began to make statements in support of the national Black Lives Matters protests spreading throughout the country, Romance Writers of America (RWA) released an announcement to its membership late Friday in support of the protests. The statement said, in part, “That our authors from marginalized communities, especially our Black authors, have been treated as somehow less deserving of a seat at the table of publishing. We must admit and learn from this shameful past, while standing up for our goal and commitment to make the future better. We stand together in the fight against systemic racism.”

In addition, like fellow writers organization Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA), which had sent out an announcement that all Black authors would receive free membership and conference fees, as well as financial aid in attending conferences, RWA announced that their online conference would be free to all black author members and that 100 scholarships to black authors were available. RWA also stated that they would make an effort to reach out to and include more black authors in all matters in the future.

The email also included a link to resources in support of the protests and Black Lives Matter, as well as resources for writers.

Below is their complete announcement:

It's tough to write about happily ever after right now. And it's difficult to find the right words-the perfect words-to talk about this, but now is a time when finding perfect words isn't nearly as important as simply speaking up. Standing up. As an organization that just went through a massive crisis for many of the same reasons that underscore these protests for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and so many more -injustice, racism, and unfairness-we acknowledge that we have turned aside from confronting difficult truths for far too long. That our authors from marginalized communities, especially our Black authors, have been treated as somehow less deserving of a seat at the table of publishing. We must admit and learn from this shameful past, while standing up for our goal and commitment to make the future better. We stand together in the fight against systemic racism. This Board of Directors ran on a platform of rebuilding RWA into RWA 2.0: an organization built around the core principles of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access (DEIA). We've been working hard on policy and other initiatives to address these crucial issues, through such work as building a new Code of Ethics, developing new DEIA training modules that will be an integral part of RWA membership, and creating new, inclusive chapter leadership training materials. We have also retired an award that had become tarnished by racism, in order to create a brand new award centered around principles of inclusion. But now is the time to do even more. RWA is taking the following steps in addition to our continuing work on diversity issues and continuing efforts to make our organization a safe place for Black writers:

  • We invite all Black authors in RWA to attend our first online conference, to be held August 28-30, at no charge. This admission will include the recordings of the conference

  • We will make 100 scholarships to our online conference available to non-member Black writers

  • We are making it a priority to find new resources to add to our Diversity and Inclusion Resources page on our website

  • We will direct our Academic Grants Committee to seek out Black academics studying romance to consider for RWA grants

This is a time when so many of us are terrified, alone, and feeling helpless. We offer the following links, for those who wish to learn more or find a way to contribute. To Learn: We Need Diverse Books Resources for Race, Equity, Anti-Racism, and Inclusion Social Justice Books for YA and Children A Children's Book List for Anti-racist Activism Obama Foundation -- Information, Action, Engagement Anti-racist Reading List from Publishers Weekly Campaign Zero The Unplug Collective Black, Disabled, and Proud To Donate: Black Lives Matter The American Civil Liberties Union The NAACP Color of Change National Bail Out Reclaim the Block Communities United Against Police Brutality Movement for Black Lives Black Youth Project LGBTQ Freedom Fund We Need Diverse Books Mental Health: Therapy for Black Girls 12 Therapy and Wellness Resources for Black Mental Health Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation The Siwe Project Inclusive Therapists National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network As writers, we have a duty to the world to offer our stories. As romance writers, we have a sacred trust to bring stories of love, hope, and happiness to a world that is suffering through very difficult times. What we write, how we write, and how we reach out to our fellow authors and our community is important. We must work together to destroy the status quo that has persisted in punishing people for the color of their skin for far too long. Let's join together to bring RWA and the publishing community into a better future for all of us.