The following statement was sent to the Romance Writers of America Board and staff from the WisRWA Board and our Diversity and Outreach committee regarding the recent ethics issue:
The Wisconsin Romance Writers of America chapter is writing to express displeasure at the recent censure, suspension, and leadership ban enacted upon Courtney Milan. The vote should be rescinded entirely, not only in anticipation of a legal opinion. We believe the citation of “invidious discrimination” should not be applied to keep racist tweets, speech, and works safe from criticism. Suzan Tisdale’s actual complaint likens Milan to a neo-Nazi for the very act of calling out racism, and such an accusation was allowed to stand by the Board of Directors without censure. Indeed, it was upheld. This is unacceptable.
This decision is already having a detrimental effect on authors of diverse representation. Many are worried that the organization ostensibly designed to protect all romance authors may turn against them if they speak out against discrimination. Many are already withdrawing their RITA entries, refusing to judge the contests, and even leaving the organization. RWA has only recently begun to overcome the looming threat of institutional racism. Much of that hard work can be credited to Courtney Milan. To release this decision after business hours and right before the office would be closed for a holiday implies a cowardly unwillingness to be immediately accountable for the concerns of the RWA membership at large.
WisRWA as a chapter is eminently invested in supporting and promoting authors of color, LGBTQ authors, and authors with disabilities. The RWA board has greatly weakened our position to do so. We respectfully request a full and transparent account of the actions of the ethics committee panel and the RWA Board’s subsequent actions. We ask the Board of Directors to issue a formal and public apology to Courtney Milan.