There was a dustup this week in the RWA community. During the fury of heated emails and declarations of heartfelt emotions, a friend asked me if I was still wanting to run for a position on the national board. I replied without hesitation, “Yes I do.”
I have a voice and I’m not afraid to use it. I’ve had experiences that I have learned from that I wish to share. And I have a desire to make the organization be strong and relevant, and give back to the community that has given me so much.
There are two main issues that I feel RWA needs to address, and I’ll post my ideas on them separately so this isn’t a mile long. The first point was the crux of the discussion that was brought up this weekend.
Diversity. It has been a hot topic of discussion across the country in all facets of life, business, and art for the last few years. I think the discussion in question this past weekend wasn’t so much about diversity as it was inclusion. Should RWA spend resources to reach out to marginalized authors to convey that they have a home and opportunities with the organization?
The short answer is yes. Let’s be real. For decades, the membership resembled an estrogen-laden carton of milk. Perhaps that was because in the romance world traditional publishing contracted authors who were primarily of Caucasian persuasion and it was a reflection of the times. Whatever the reason, that is no longer and should no longer be the case. We now live in a time where the collective consciousness of readers is wide open to possibility. With the accessibility of self-publishing, the reading public no longer is tied to the books New York believes they “know how to sell.” Readers have access to stories that reflects people from all walks of life. People of color, of every sexual persuasion, people who do not fit society’s standards of “normal.” We are in a cultural renaissance.
The authors of these incredible books reflect their characters. For years they have been made to feel, and told straight to their face, they do not belong in publishing. Over the last few years, RWA has taken strides to put an end to those prejudices. It is a tough and important fight that will probably take years before victory can be declared.
People of the world want to read good stories. They want stories about characters they relate to, that move them, and inspire them. It should not matter what ethnicity or sexual persuasion the authors of these works are. Unfortunately, to some in the industry it does. One of RWA’s missions is to be an advocate for authors. That means all authors. Not just the Caucasian authors. Not just the female authors. Not just the traditionally published authors. Not just the historical, or contemporary, or paranormal, or erotic or inspirational authors. ALL authors.
As a member of the board, opportunities for inclusion will be something I strive to create in all my endeavors. My job will be to serve All its members. And serve all of them I shall.