Sunday, December 29, 2019
Why I'm Sticking with RWA
It was relaxing and restorative.
When I returned online Friday morning, 12/26, I fell face-first into the the RWA crisis. Since our topic at the SFF Seven this week is whatever is on our minds... well, I don't have much on my mind besides this.
There's a great deal online about it. If you don't know anything, this is a good run-down of the timeline. It's the best I've seen, though I hesitated to link to it because I don't like how Claire frames the situation with words like "implosion," "collapse," and "dinosaurs."
I don't think RWA is coming to an end, despite the almost gleeful predictions of it.
I do think this situation has exposed a number of massive problems. Not to be glib or pollyanna, I see this as a crisis/opportunity.
Yes, systemic racism is, has been, and continues to be a major issue within RWA. Despite concerted strides to correct the problems - with recent significant progress being made - it seems that policies and embedded practices in the organization have allowed a racist, exclusionary mindset to persist. In this particular situation, we've also run afoul of a cult of personality and a personal feud that led to Policies & Procedures being altered and bypassed to pursue a particular vendetta.
Former president (and all-around amazing person) Helen Kay Dimon laid out recommended steps in this tweet thread. I fully support those steps. I think that, if we are brutally thorough, we can get the ship cleaned up and back on course.
RWA has been very good to me. I know it hasn't been for everyone, but I owe a great deal to the organization When I joined as a newbie fiction author in 2007, RWA gave me all the tools to help me in my new career. I want RWA to be that for everyone. That's why I'm not abandoning ship. I'm offering my help to do whatever needs to be done - and I think the next few weeks will be key - so I really hope we can succeed. I don't believe RWA is a dinosaur. I think the organization can be better and do better.
I'm staying as long as there's hope.
Jeffe Kennedy is a multi-award-winning and best-selling author of romantic fantasy. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and is a member of Novelists, Inc. (NINC). She is best known for her RITA® Award-winning novel, The Pages of the Mind, the recent trilogy, The Forgotten Empires, and the wildly popular, Dark Wizard. Jeffe lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is represented by Sarah Younger of Nancy Yost Literary Agency.