Sunday, December 29, 2019

Why I'm Sticking with RWA

I'm getting back into the groove following a lovely Christmas holiday in Tucson with my family. I didn't take my laptop, and even read a paper book, staying pretty much offline except for the occasional Instagram post.

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.