The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 Sunday, April 11, 2021


Racism dispute roils romance writers group
The dispute arose over the group’s treatment of Courtney Milan, a former board member and chair of its ethics committee who last summer criticized Kathryn Lynn Davis’ novel “Somewhere Lies the Moon” on Twitter as a “racist mess.”

by Concepción de León



NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE ).- A dispute over a racism accusation and how it was handled have upended the romance writers’ community, with bestselling novelists speaking out against the Romance Writers of America and most of the powerful, 9,000-member trade organization’s board resigning in the last days of the year.

The RWA on Monday said it was hiring a law firm to “to conduct an audit of the process and these events to provide a clear report of the facts.” The dispute arose over the group’s treatment of Courtney Milan, a former board member and chair of its ethics committee who last summer criticized Kathryn Lynn Davis’ novel “Somewhere Lies the Moon” on Twitter as a “racist mess.”

Milan, who is Chinese American, took issue with the depiction of 19th-century Chinese women in the book, including a description of “slanted almond eyes” and a quote from a character describing them as “demure and quiet, as our mothers have trained us to be.” “The notion of the submissive Chinese woman is a racist stereotype which fuels higher rates of violence against women,” Milan wrote on Twitter.

Davis, who is an honorary RWA member, disagreed with Milan’s assessment, saying her book was historically accurate and based on years of research. She filed an ethics complaint with the RWA, saying that Milan’s comments were “cyberbullying” and cost her a publishing contract.

“I would not have filed a complaint if she had been more professional,” Davis said of Milan.

In her response to the complaint, Milan said that the RWA’s ethics code does not cover discussions on social media accounts it doesn’t operate, and said of her criticism: “I am emotional about these issues. Negative stereotypes of Chinese women have impacted my life, the life of my mother, my sisters, and my friends.”

As a result of that complaint and one from another writer, Suzan Tisdale, who employs Davis at a publishing imprint and said she had lost potential authors as a result of the controversy, the RWA told Milan earlier last week that her membership was suspended and she was banned for life from holding leadership positions within the organization.

Milan called the judgment “a form of betrayal” and shared the documents associated with the complaint with her friend and fellow romance writer Alyssa Cole, who posted them to Twitter.

“If it was now RWA’s policy that talking about a book and specifically saying negative things about a book as a marginalized author was going to get you banned from the organization,” Milan said, “I felt that other marginalized people in the organization needed to know that.”

Once the documents were on social media, other writers, including bestselling romance novelists like Nora Roberts and Cynthia Eden, voiced their support for Milan. The RWA quickly reversed course on its judgment, but eight board members resigned as well as former president Carolyn Jewel, and a petition calling for the resignation of Damon Suede, the RWA’s new president, began circulating online.

Some of the backlash was from writers and members who felt that the dispute wasn’t handled with enough transparency. The RWA formed a separate group to address the complaints, for example, and didn’t inform the ethics committee, which Milan previously led, about them.

The RWA, in addition to announcing it would hire an outside firm Monday, criticized members who it said “inappropriately shared personal and/or private information which has legal consequences and has resulted in members feeling threatened, exposed, and unsafe. This is unacceptable behavior. As writers we know more than most, words have consequences.”

Previously, in the message to its members, it called the incidents of the past weeks a “turning point.” “We have lost the trust of our membership and the romance community and we must find a way to rebuild that,” it said, while reiterating its commitment to “the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion in all that we do.”

The genre for years has grappled with calls for greater diversity. Romance writers and the characters they create are overwhelmingly white, even as romance publishers have said they want to release more books by writers of color.

Davis, who filed one of the complaints, said she was “stunned” by the RWA’s judgment against Milan and said the penalty “far exceeded the substance of the complaint.” “We asked for an apology. That was what we wanted,” she said.

HelenKay Dimon, who was president of RWA until her term ended in late August, said that she thought there had been a series of breakdowns in the process and is calling for a full audit.

“People care enough to get that upset,” she said. Now, the organization needs to “step up and take responsibility and have a plan.”

“I think the organization and the membership and the people who drove this decision are not the same things,” Milan said. “The response of the membership should be heartening to anyone who cares about diversity in RWA and romance.”

© 2019 The New York Times Company










Today's News

December 31, 2019

An afterlife so perilous, you needed a guidebook

Three works by British modernist artists gifted to the nation

The Baltimore Museum of Art announces final 2019 acquisitions

Flea market where Andy Warhol shopped has sold its last collectible

Morphy's announces The Susquehanna Collection of antique furniture, historical firearms, decorative and fine art

TASCHEN publishes an enormous and unique book of works by Nobuyoshi Araki

Hundreds of rare coin record prices in 2019, reports Professional Numismatists Guild

First retrospective on French creator Thierry Mugler on view at the Kunsthal Rotterdam

Pace presents the first ever Picasso exhibit in Palo Alto

Moreau Kusunoki and Genton to design the new Powerhouse

Exhibition at the Speed Art Museum honors a long-overlooked Louisville artist

Racism dispute roils romance writers group

Philippe Pastor presents a remarkable installation of 28 sculptures of "The Burned Trees" at Monaco Modern'Art

Auction to feature items signed by Lincoln, FDR, Jefferson, Hemingway, The Beatles and others

COLLECTIBLE returns to Brussels for its third edition from 5 - 8 March 2020

The second stage of the traveling pan-African exhibition "Prête-moi ton rêve" opens in Dakar

Art Rotterdam 6-9 February 2020: New highlights of a surprising programme

Kang Jungsuck's first London solo exhibition on view at The Korean Cultural Centre UK

Exhibition presents a selective portrait of 1980s painting in Canada

Muzeum Susch presents 'Up to and Including Limits: After Carolee Schneemann'

Art Dubai 2020 reaffirms commitment to alternative global perspectives with announcement of gallery list

TEFAF Maastricht announces the most international and diverse exhibitor line up to date

Finkelstein gallery, Australia's female-artist gallery, announces seven exhibitions and talk series for 2020

The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art opens an exhibition of etchings by Helen Hardin

What to Do When Your Claim Has Been Refused

Design Inspiration from the World's Most Awe-Inspiring Casinos

What are the advantages of Group Benefits?

CBD Topicals for Anti-Aging: What Studies Show




Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 



Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

sa gaming free credit

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org avemariasound.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful