Update: Courtney Milan & RWA

Just a quick post this Boxing Day with the latest I’ve heard on the Courtney Milan/RWA controversy. In the early evening on Christmas Eve, RWA tweeted an update. Link after the break.

None of this surprises me. Milan is a master at rallying her troops via social media. Nothing wrong with that. Many writers and other celebs do it.

Nor am I surprised that RWA wants to get legal advice about how they should proceed. Frankly, it is probably something they should have done initially instead of immediately acting. That’s not to say I agree with how Milan presented herself or her arguments on Twitter. I don’t. I’m old-school and believe you can be much more effective as a professional without resorting to the vitriol, etc. I do believe her behavior reflected badly on the organization and that is in violation of their by-laws. However, as I noted in my earlier posts, I’m not sure that by itself is enough to justify the extreme response fro RWA.

But there is more that does concern me. Remember, I said the situation was fluid and we would learn more as time passed. It appears–again, nothing proved and bias on both sides is being taken into account–the decision and recommendation RWA’s board relied upon didn’t come from the ethics committee itself but from a specially selected group. It is possible that, if true, that was a violation of RWA procedures. If that is the case, it’s a can of worms RWA isn’t going to want to open by sticking with their punishment recommendations.

What happens regarding this situation will be interesting to watch. Already, a number of Milan’s followers are calling for investigations into the publisher who filed the complaint. There’s a lot of posturing about how wrong it is to try to silence a marginalized author. In other words, they are politicizing the issue. Admittedly, it’s hard not to in this day and age. However, the question is ultimately going to come down to whether or not Milan’s comments on Twitter were such that they damaged the RWA in the eyes of its members and readers of the genre.

In other words, it will come down to Milan’s behavior. Nothing more and nothing less. The best we can hope for out of all this is that RWA will come up with a solid procedure on how to deal with such situations in the future.

The only smart thing RWA can do in this situation is seek legal guidance. It is too bad it didn’t do so before acting. It would have saved a lot of the drama. But Milan needs to reconsider her online approach to things as well. Sometimes, we all need to take a step back and think and possibly rephrase how we want to say something. Perhaps she should keep that in mind going forward.

139 comments

      1. I would say, especially when dealing with a lawyer who was actively involved in writing your code of conduct.
        .
        I have little doubt that she was ruthlessly exploiting loopholes she deliberately left herself.
        After all, the desire to join an ethics board generally comes from a desire to denounce, in stentorian tones, from a position of perceived moral authority.
        I’m conceived she acted wrongly, and with malice.
        The question is whether she was wallowing in enough egoistic self-righteousness to clearly violate the by-laws she helped write. (Shrug) l don’t know. On one hand, you have legal training and the self-discipline necessary to acquire it. On the other, Leftists wear blinders, and hatred makes you stupid.

        1. I don’t know that she deliberately created loopholes so she could personally exploit them. That’s a bit of a stretch, I think.

          But you would think someone who was about sensitivity and inclusion wouldn’t be so personally demeaning towards others, so crude, foul-mouthed and dismissive. At the very least, you’d think someone with the credentials she holds would have a better vocabulary.

  1. This bears all the hallmarks of mean girls mobbing up to vote one of the queen bees off the cheerleader squad. On Christmas Eve, no less. Couldn’t wait until after New Year, right?

    This type of behavior is what keeps lawyers in business. Somebody with a functioning brain cell finally got it working and pulled back from the brink. A narrow escape, methinks.

    On the whole its hard to say who looks worse here, Courtney Milan or the RWA. Plenty of ugly to share between them.

    The difference between the Romance Writer’s Association and the American Medical Association is not back-stabbing and mean-girling, it is -professionalism-. The AMA does not air its laundry in public, and it does not do anything outside the courts.

    1. Actually, this went down before Christmas Eve. As for airing dirty laundry in public, that wasn’t so much the RWA as Milan taking to social media. In fact, on the whole, I have found RWA to be more professional in how it deals with issues than many other organizations, certainly more so than most publishing organizations. That’s not to say they aren’t without blame. I have a feeling there’s enough to pass around on both sides.

      That said, Milan’s comments on Twitter did violation, in my opinion, RWA’s rules as stated in the original decision. Whether the proper procedures were used to come up with that is totally something else. The RWA is like any other professional organization or company. It has to look at its reputation and how what members, especially well-known members, reflect upon it.

      Unfortunately, RWA acted without vetting everything first. A lot of this could have been avoided if it had.

      1. Going down the comments today I’m starting to have a little more sympathy for the RWA and a lot less for Courtney Milan. Queen Bee seems pretty accurate for Courtney.

    2. Where EXACTLY did you get your ideas about the AMA?!??! Any organization is captive to its mean girls, AMA no less so!

      1. “Where EXACTLY did you get your ideas about the AMA?!??!”

        I’m in the trade, as it were. As I said above, the difference at the organizational level is -professionalism-.

        A professional calls the lawyers FIRST, before anything else happens.

  2. You seem to have forgotten the very real racist stereotyping found in the book as Courtney Milan brought out. I don’t care how she did it, she was right and the two look at me I’m the mistreated nice white lady authors need to own it.

    1. No, because I am not going to say a book is racist that I haven’t read–or that Milan didn’t read. By her own comments, she only read part of the sample.

      But, even if she was right and the book was racist, RWA does have an interest in how she presented herself, as a member, in the exchange. Was the action taken appropriate? Honestly, I think it was over the top if it was the first time she’d been brought before them for such behavior.

    2. Milan only even looked at the book (20 years on a backlist) because the author liked a tweet that she politically opposed.. and if you read through her thread all her supporters are highly critical of anyone who might even hint at supporting anything remotely conservative… every comment loudly maligns such people, stating such persons need to automatically be considered racist and bigoted. And that as such should be destroyed. This was a matter of bullying plain and simple and if you bully it reflects poorly on RWA and RWA should have stood by that.

      1. ” all her supporters are highly critical of anyone who might even hint at supporting anything remotely conservative… every comment loudly maligns such people, stating such persons need to automatically be considered racist and bigoted.”

        On point…and this is what I find most disturbing about this whole thing. This is a very dangerous precedent to make. Like, if you want to coexist with other romance authors and readers in peace you must vote for Dems? And preferably have a proof of it for situations like this. Or claim some kind of marginalization…Preferably race, but any will help more or less. l It sounds ridiculous, until you realize that someone lost job prospects because of this.

      2. 1. The editor (Sue Grimshaw) never a writer) who was the start of this was the romance buyer for all Borders/Waldenbooks and refused to buy Romances by African American authors, (And yes there were authors with a large following at the time.) These authors were shuttled over to the African American specific section. As any author can tell you, everyone in the pipeline from publishing houses, agents, editors and buyers can harm a career in the time period. And Borders was one of the biggest bookstore.
        2. I would also point out that one of the two complaints was brought by a publisher (and not the publisher of the book in question), Sue Tisdale. Tisdale is a writer, but Milan never comments on her books and Tisdale
        rings her complaint as the boss of the two editors. I mention this because RWA represents the WRITERS. Their website header is “Romance Writers of America: The Voice of Romance Writers”. And yet they take the part of a publishing house over the writer that they represent. This is one of the things the writers are upset about.

        1. Actually, RWA represents more than just writers. Check their membership. Nor is this the first time they have taken someone’s side in a complaint who isn’t an author. Finally, if you read the RWA’s initial decision, which they have put in abeyance until they consult attorneys, etc., the issue wasn’t decided in favor of an editor. It was decided in favor of protecting the RWA. It found Milan’s comments violated the rules of the organization and caused it harm. It didn’t say she was wrong with her conclusions. It was in the manner in which she did so.

          It is very easy to forget that in the rush to frame this into an issue of racism and calling it out. I still question why Milan chose a 20 year old book to use for this part of her battle for inclusivity. Every professional organization has rules about how its members must behave, just as employers do. If a member acts in a way to bring harm to the organization’s reputation, there very well may be consequences.

          Did the RWA act appropriately in this case? I don’t know because I wasn’t party to how the decision was made. I do admit that I found the decision to be harsh if this was the only similar complaint against Milan.

          But I’m not here to debate the issue of racism in the book. As I have said before, I haven’t read it. But then, neither has Milan (at least not the last I saw). My concern is how she acted, what was said and how the RWA responded.

          1. the code Milan was found in violation of is this: 6.1 In order to create a safe and respectful environment, invidious discrimination is prohibited in RWA.
            6.1.1.1. No member, speaker or participant in RWA or any RWA activity, RWA function, or RWA forum or social media account shall discriminate against another member, speaker, or participant at any RWA activity, RWA function or on any RWA forum or social media account based on race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, or religion.

            Basically “invidious discrimination” defined (according to the ethics code): “By word or deed likely to arouse, inflame,or incur resentment or anger in others; tending to cause discontent, animosity, envy; words that created an unjust comparison or were unfairly discrimination.”

            So they are saying that Milan criticising the book of using racist language and stereotypes was unfair discrimination. So is it discrimination to criticize a book for using racists stereotypes and language (rather you read it or not)? Isn’t injurious to RWA to write racist stereotypes or nazi romances or romances between a adult and the 15 yr old, to say Yet those all got a pass by the RWA.

        2. These authors were shuttled over to the African American specific section.
          Which, sadly, is the SJW practice nowadays. By their standards (at least one set of them) you can’t really complain about racism for that, when segregation is the latest fad amongst identitarians.

          1. This is the truth. People working against segregation are the designated bad guys these days. Someone needs to make up their mind.

            I’ll say absolutely that it was wrong to separate people out like that then (and still is). I know that the category romances had ethnic categories though 20 (10?) years ago there were a couple of regularly published category romance writers who were black who wrote black characters and were published in the main categories. But pretty much everyone thought that the special ethnic categories were *good* things to have and they were *good* people for having them.

            But even then the idea that the majority wouldn’t buy books about minorities or by minority authors was probably wrong. But publishers (and Hollywood, too,) utterly believe it. It’s being racist on behalf of others, really, because if you’re selling to fly-over country then the “gatekeeper” prejudices against the audience is what drives the decisions. Hollywood still won’t cast some people in some roles because they’re convinced that fly-over housewives won’t find a leading man dreamy if he’s too ethnic. It’s unbelievably stupid and like double layers of bigotry going on.

            So lets not do that anymore.

            But the important thing is that looking back 20 years and complaining about sorting people in publishing doesn’t say anything about how the people doing that felt or their motivation. Just like those insisting on segregation now, they may have felt that they were on the cutting edge of making sure that everyone had access to publishing spaces. And we look back and judge them, and maybe we should, but demand they be punished today for practices of the last century simply suggests that there’s nothing current to complain about.

        3. But was the practice of shelving African-American romances in the African-American Interest section a buyer’s call or was it store policy? Did Grimshaw actually refuse to buy any African-American romances? I had not heard that. I knew about the shelving practice because that was common among all the big book chains for quite some time, and it had been complained about for many years. I don’t think buyers make that policy, however, and they may have buying guidelines handed down from marketing (buy X of this, Y of that, because our numbers show this sells but that doesn’t, blahblahblah).

    3. Racist books!? Quelle horreur! Gee, folks might want to start banning books like Huckleberry Finn and Uncle Tom’s Cabin! (I’m sure sjw types have already tried to ban those, and other, books.)

      Here’s the deal, if you don’t like something, avoid it. But folks on the left always want to try to stop anyone else from enjoying what the left doesn’t like.

      1. The long history of various twits banning or trying to ban HUCKLEBERRY FIN would be funny if it weren’t depressing. It has, for some decades, been one of the Iconic ‘Banned Books’, places on the inevitable ‘Banned Books’ display in public libraries across America in large part because the book itself is so wonderful.

        I note that I don’t think I have ever seen a ‘Banned Books’ display that featured MEIN KAMPF.

        There are semi-legitimate reasons for banning a book. There are books so awful that banning them is excusable, if not good. THE PROTOCOLS OF THE ELDERS OF ZION springs to mind.

    4. Do you mean ‘need to own it’ in the sense of publicly stating that there is nothing wrong with being racist, and that there is nothing wrong with advocating for mass murder along racial lines?

    5. The examples that I saw of the “very real racial stereotyping” was that (gasp) China was Patriarchal and oppressive to women, that beautiful people from other parts of the world seem exotic compared to your neighbors (when my sister went to China and my brother went to Mexico they both had people want to touch their hair, so this is clearly universal), and sometimes parents with brown eyes have a child with blue, which is true.

      All in a book that was published 20 years ago.

      There isn’t a book that’s been written that can’t be torn apart for those sorts of horrible sins and frankly it’s crazy to act like if someone *can* that they’re noble and amazing, brave and courageous, to fight that good fight.

      You know, *important* things, like using cringy descriptive terms in a genre known for purple prose.

      1. I worked for someone who had been offered lots of money to accompany men in a particular foreign country because she had blue eyes and was a “round-eye”, and it would boost their prestige.

        You know that Captain Kirk was admired by half the men in the galaxy because he had all these exotic dates, and despised by the other half out of envy or because they “weren’t like him”.

        It’s real. It’s human.

    6. I didn’t see anything racist in the passages Milan quoted. I’m tempted to accuse you of arguing in bad faith, but I’m open to the possibility that you live in an enclave where everyone is so homogeneous — segregated? — that you never meet people from different cultures and countries. And that you never travel, or read about cultures different from your own. If you’re a writer, I invite you to expand your horizons.

      Here are a few things you didn’t know about China, a country where:

      1) A daughter-in-law is considered the caretaker of her husband’s parents, and so a woman’s own parents say that to raise a daughter is to “water someone else’s garden,”
      2) This attitude predictably led to the mass aborting and abandonment of girls during the One Child Policy era — hence all those adopted girls over here and in Europe,
      3) The aborting and abandonment of girls has caused a lopsided sex ratio in China, where there is an excess of young men without any women to marry, and
      4) one consequence is the kidnapping, trafficking, and enslavement of girls and women to China today…

      These facts are well-documented, and not only in the New York Times link above. It was never hidden, and no special effort was ever required to know this. If you are honest, you cannot deny that China’s culture is patriarchal. Based strictly on a) reality, and b) Milan’s chosen passages — it is dishonest and defaming to accuse the author of racism.

      With respect to “exotic”: if you never met immigrants, or traveled to another country, or read non-fiction about other cultures, then it would make sense for you to not understand that outsiders to a given group are “exoticized.” It even happens when the outsiders are the same race. It’s just human nature. Again, broaden your horizons.

      If you’re being sincere, then you’re arguing from a position of ignorance. Educate yourself. If you knew all of what I said already, then you’re arguing in bad faith. Feel ashamed. Either way, stop flinging around accusations of racism.

    7. Okay, the book is in KU, where I just pulled it. IF it does not disappear for some reason before I can wade through it, AND nothing else intervenes in my life, I will report on my blog. At least to settle one issue (Milan is right, Milan is wrong about the book).

      As for the House of Twits – I’m not masochistic enough to delve into that side of the mess.

      1. Honestly, a lot of old romances are excessively cringy. Sometimes they’re fun to read anyway. Sometimes it’s more like “omg, I remember liking this.”

        Still, let us know. 🙂

  3. I agree with you, but those who advocate, in good faith, for dialling down the vitriol are scolded for “tone policing.” Perfect rhetorical non-response. Hard to see this organisation surviving this catastrophe and perhaps a split is the best solution.

  4. “But Milan needs to reconsider her online approach to things as well.”

    She won’t. If you followed her even for a little bit, you know she won’t. She got a tremendous support on twitter and I see her only doubling down in the future.

    RWA choose wrong way to go about this whole issue, which is not to say that their decision was wrong, IMO. In the end, couple of figures will resign over this, maybe even more than a couple. Depending on who takes the reigns in RWA, everything will become more or less politicized and “woke” (awards and such). But the most important lesson in all of this is: Do not like any conservative tweets on your public profile. And when I say conservative, I also mean Christian, because the editor in question also liked one Bible passage on Tweeter, and that was used as “proof of racism and bigotry” (I wish I was joking about this).

    1. What upsets me is that RWA had been making strides in diversity & inclusion, but Milan broke all that with her overbearing, narcissistic need to be “right” on Twitter, to be worshipped in her self-appointed role as Great Savior Lady for all the marginalized everywhere, or whatever her deal is. Now RWA is more divided than ever, and the WOC who had achieved leadership roles, whose work was being considered for awards, etc., have been pressured into resigning, withdrawing, etc. The more I see of Milan’s Twitter feed these past few days, the more I understand RWA’s initial response to the ethics complaint. Milan is a destructive, divisive person. Who, in the end, did she help, other than herself here?

      Why couldn’t all of this been handled professionally? My only thought now is that Milan knows RWA has more on her than this, so she’s preemptively poisoning the well of public opinion.

      1. I will admit, I wondered if there might not be more because of the severity of the punishment handed down. That is all speculation. But I am with you on how Milan (and, yes, the RWA) could have handled it all more professionally. The harm that comes from all this goes far beyond Milan’s reputation or even the reputations of those who filed the complaints. It is every person who serves on RWA’s board and committees, it goes to the RWA itself and its general membership and it goes to the genre. I have long said RWA has been the most responsive organization to the needs of its authors. Remember, it was the first to accept indie authors as “pros”. But this? This will set the organization back years over a dispute about a book that is 20 years old. Sigh.

        1. This will set the organization back years over a dispute about a book that is 20 years old. Sigh.

          I think this is going to get worse, partly because of stuff that is happening around that is at best tangential to our industry, but affects people who are very deep into the idea that everything is political. I’m watching from a distance and right now (again) those folks are displaying meltdowns because certain political results aren’t for things that they support, and from previous displayed actions (not necessarily by the same people) the flailing will affect things that aren’t political, but have been made so over time, in attempts to regain ‘control.’

          It’s tiring because these people tend to escalate the insanity; and the rest of us don’t really get a way to stop them without the mob descending down on us. They get off on the power of the mob, and it’s required escalation, because it’s just as addictive as crack to them.

      2. I wish it was funny but it’s not funny at all that the people claiming to be for diversity will pressure diverse people *out* and then turn around and condemn an organization for not being inclusive. How do you get to be the Good Guy by promising by implication or otherwise to make minority women miserable if they don’t support you?

        All sane people are rightly terrified of the mob. They’re terrified of having their careers torpedoed if they don’t make a public statement and action of support of the mob. People relying on publishers can’t afford so much as a burp because publishers are terrified of the mob.

        1. They are doing that now with a petition to remove Damon Suede, who as president-elect became the president per the by-laws when the president resigned. He is both a man, obviously, and also gay. So two diversity points now under attack. So very typical of the diversity mob.

          And, of course, literally all the “POC” board members resigned within 24 hours. So much for the strides and hard work these past years to make RWA better. One trial, one hiccup, one difficulty and they all toss up their hands and walk away. Such conviction! *snort

      3. 1. Actually, Milan was one of the main forces pushing RWA inclusivity over the last 4 years while she was on the board of directors. She received a 2019 service award from RWA for her work. It was because she was a force for diversity and against oppression that she was asked to be on the ethics committee. Because of the work done by the board while she was on it, African American writers won RITA (RWA best story awards) for the first time ever (40 years). Because of the work of the Board she was on, for the first time ever the Board of Directors was representative of the diverse make of the members. And there has been a large outcry the nice white women who refused to admit that RWA had a problem. Basically the authors who have worked and been encouraged by the last years work feel betrayed and that the new board (which started I believe around August) is taking the RWA back to it’s ways before work was done to make it fairer to all writers.
        2. The reason so many people are up in arms, resigned from the Board, left RWA, quite the RITA selection committee, asked for the resignation of the Director, President and President elect is because a second ethics committee was chosen. The original committee was not notified. As Milan points out, it was appropriate for the original committee to be recused and for the members of the committee to be anonymous. BUT that there was a second committee was not mentioned in the decisions or to the original committee (imagine their surprise to wake on 12/23 to find they bear responsibility for this decision). There has been no response to the demands to know how the committee members were picked. No one has come forward to explain even though there has been many questioning this. I read (so no direct knowledge) that the paperwork the board received from the ethics committee did not include all pertinent info and so their vote was based on insufficient evidence to make a decision.
        And amid all this, it was discovered that an unknown (but more than 3) number of ethic complaints by minority authors have NOT been forwarded to the committee by the staff as the regulations require. And that staff have refused membership to LBGTQ+ authors without forwarding them the appropriate committee. (The author who mentioned this asked a Board member for a reconsideration and was admitted.)

        So to summarize – this is a giant clusterfuck and RWA members have a reason to be mad, beyond whether Milan is guilty or not

        1. I’m not going to debate why there’s been no response from RWA on the whys and hows of the new committee. To me, it is pretty obvious. First, it’s the holiday season and most of publishing shuts down. Second, they have already said they are waiting for legal advice. See the first explanation for why no response. The delay doesn’t bother me.

          As for making strides toward inclusivity. Yes, Milan has been instrumental in that. I’ve said so here and, iirc, elsewhere. However, I will take exception to why folks are resigning or calling for resignation. I’ve seen this with other organizations when a Twitter mob gets going. People resign for a myriad of reasons, often not for why they said. One of the main reasons it the job isn’t worth the headache and sure as hell isn’t worth the potential loss of “jobs” (contracts) in the future.

          Yes, this is a clusterfuck. One that could have been handled better by all sides, including Milan.

  5. I want to thank you and all of the authors that have made comments on the RWA situation in regard to Courtney Milan, I now know who works and which authors to no longer buy or support.

  6. “…whether or not Milan’s comments on Twitter were such that they damaged the RWA in the eyes of its members and readers of the genre.”

    As a lifelong reader of the genre, IMO what has damaged RWA is the defensiveness of members who are much more concerned with “How do we stop people from saying out loud that we are racist because OMG what will people think” than “How do we confront the possibility/probability that we are racist and fix it.”

    I have been confronted on my racism by POC. Sometimes those confrontations were loving, measured, and polite; sometimes they were hurt, angry, and impatient. I’m grateful I sometimes got the former; I suspect I always deserved the latter. It’s not the responsibility of the person(s) harmed by racism, whether intentional or merely ignorant, to coddle and protect the feelings of the offender. It’s not the angry emphatic denouncement of the offense that damages reputations; it’s the belligerent unwillingness to acknowledge and redress the error.

    If the denouncement is public, loud, impolite, over the top, and made by someone you don’t like, the offense is still offensive, no matter how much you like the offender, sympathise, or even agree with her. In short (too late, I know), you have it exactly backwards who is harming RWA.

    1. I will be the first to call out racism—when I see it. As I stated before, I haven’t read the book in question. So I am not going to make a judgment on whether the book contained racist material or not. Nor will I make a decision based on a partial read of a short sample because I know that is only a part of the book and does not contain the full nuance of the plot, etc. Then we have the fact the book is more than 20 years old and what was acceptable then might not be acceptable now. As another reader said elsewhere, judging something written decades ago by today’s standards means almost every book written more than 10 years ago will be objectionable. Are we to stop reading and teaching books like Huck Finn or Shakespeare because they no longer fit today’s rules? If so, then why are any of us writing when we know our books will be pulled from shelves and figuratively if not literally burned in a decade or two because sensibilities have changed?

      1. When reading Huck Finn, any good teacher will include a discussion of racial stereotypes in the book. Which is what Milan did. I believe that if harmful racial stereotypes are not pointed out, that they continue to be accepted and used.

        Also, she used stereotypes that were acknowledged as racist when the book was written – that asians have “yellowed” skin and “slanted almond eyes”. The main character is told that the “future is in the west’. That chinese women are taught nothing but “cooking, sewing and the graceful art of pleasing her husband”. In her tweet Milan links to an article about how Chinese woman had their own script (studied by SKidmore professors in 1988.. Since one of Davis main arguments is that she did a lot of research and “is historically accurate which makes it both immune from and irrelevant to current judgments of racist literature”

        1. I have a question for you. You speak of the stereotypes as if you have read the book. Did you? Or are you relying on what Milan says she read in a portion of the sample?

          That said, a good teacher will talk about racism when teaching Huck Finn. But my point, which you either missed or chose to miss, was that there are those who want to ban the book or rewrite it because of the “racism” in it. I put the term in quote because, back when the book was written, it wasn’t racism. It was a fictionalized account of how life was at the time.

          My biggest issue with Milan in this (other than the way in which she did it) is that she is passing judgment on a book written 20 years ago without reading the damned book. I don’t care how many studies are cited because, without reading the book, you can’t tell if the studies actually apply.

          Don’t like it. Sorry. This whole thing smacks of attacking a writer/editor because of politics because all this happened after she liked a comment on Twitter, iirc, that doesn’t fit the “right” mindset.

          1. 1.This started after she found out from other members about this. There was not just one or two likes as Tisdale says.According to exhibits Milan mentions in the defense(that I linked for you below), Grimshaw removed 667 likes/retweets after the RWA community started discussing her. The tweet Tisdale does mention from Tucker Carlson saying white supremacy is a White liberal Dem hoax to intimidate blacks. This is about Grimshaw’s history of racism and it’s effect n authors of color. So I disagree that this is about politics but started about Tisdale hiring a known racist as an editor. http://teachmetonight.blogspot.com/2019/08/racism-and-corporate-romance-buyer.html. As you can see by the dates, this knowledge predates the whole currant complaint timeline. Milan found out about Grimshaws past after it was raised by others when Grimshaw was hired by a publishing house (not Tisdales.) Tisdale doesn’t accuse Milan for the Grimshaw accusations. The only reason she mentions this is to establish that this was a unfounded smear campaign and she is an innocent victim from the start. “No one presented any definitive proof of racism…If anyone had provided definitive proof, I would have fired Ms. Grimshaw immediately.But that proof does not exist.” (see above article that proof existed before any of this started.)
            2. Since you hadn’t read her response when you wrote these articles, you based your opinion on a partial reading. Does that make the articles and your opinion invalid? Should you remove them or not have written them? Should you be kicked out of a whatever group or organization you might belong to and forbidden to hold office for life because you wrote them and they make Milan’s (in my opinion) just criticism sound like bullying (in your opinion)? That is basically the case. Milan thinks she made a just honest criticism of the book and Tisdale and Davis believe Milan criticising the book for racism is bullying.
            3 Describing Chinese as yellow and slanty eyed is racist. Has been since WW2 when it was used to vilify the Asians. No matter what the story written is that Davis wrote in 1999 can not make it racist. You don’t have to read a whole book to know this. And yes, I went to the book to find those and other examples Milan showed in her screenshot. They were written in the book on Amazon. But I am not going to waste my time or money reading the whole book. I understand that you think that context can make these not racist, so I guess we must disagree.

              1. Since the book is written from the Chinese immigrant woman, the attitudes would have been hers, not UK. Most people don’t disparage their race continuously in their thoughts, especially when the country they were in wasn’t much better. Nor do they comment on the color of their skin or the shape of their eyes when it is what they see in the mirror everyday..
                The novel describes Chinese woman as uneducated except for cooking, sewing and pleasing their husbands. Chinese Woman had their own female script (which I have found reference to dating to 1988, before this book was written.) While in Britain in the Georgian period “girls were sent to ‘dame schools’ or taught by governesses, and their education was tailored towards their role as wives and mothers. How to make delicate conversation, sew or manage servants was taught instead of anything more intellectually challenging” cit 1
                Chinese woman were taught to be subservient. Before the Marriage act of 1870, woman could own no property, not even wages and inherited property, had no legal entity, a widow couldn’t represent herself to protect the property. SHe was assumed to be the property of her husband, brother,, father..cit 2
                Until 1858 a woman essentially couldn’t divorce. Through the 1800, in the UK, a man could take his wife to market and sell he like livestock. cit 3
                Woman have been educated to practice medicine in China for centuries. The first woman who who graduated from a Uk school to be a doctor was in 1877. (there were some who got degrees as apothecaries or who got degrees in the USA or Europe and one who lived her whole life as a man but none who graduated in Uk with the degree until then. cit 4 &5

                If the author wrote for instance “woman in this country are subservient or ill educated as my homeland” or “in a different way then my China” that would be one thing, but she called out chinese woman as being subservient and uneducated, so in comparison to what because the British woman she lived with weren’t any better.

                Now you show me citation of chinese who considered themselves uneducated and subservient in the 1800.Or who described themselves as “bronze” or “yellow” skin and slanted eyes. Prove your point that these are attitudes a new immigrant from China would have thought.

                cit 1 https://www.oxford-royale.com/articles/history-womens-education-uk.html#aId=e1a04ae2-3e32-4589-bec6-5c958360d0a4
                cit 2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Married_Women%27s_Property_Act_1870
                cit 3 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wife_selling_(English_custom)#Mid-19th_century
                cit 4 http://abz-nord.de/Literatur/Fachartikel/female-medical-worker.htm
                cit 5 https://medicalhealthhumanities.com/2017/12/17/a-brief-history-on-women-doctors-in-the-british-empire/

                1. Oh, I understand where you’re coming from now. It’s an odd perspective, where you believe the best about every culture but your own and the worst about your own.

                  Weird, but okay.

                  Fact one: the vast majority of Chinese women were stuck in the peasantry, and as such were highly unlikely to be involved with the items you cited to begin with. I would also point out that the status of women in China…varied, from dynasty to dynasty.

                  Fact two: Your description of the status of women in Georgian Britain fails to pass the laugh test. Do you have any evidence of that sort of thing happening at all?

                  No. You don’t.

            1. Well, this gets to the heart of it doesn’t it.

              “Known racist” means someone who likes Tucker Carlson. At that point all good and righteous people are obligated to act!

              Really. The notion that by and large “white supremacy” is a boogieman designed to terrify people of color in order to gain political advantage is an interesting idea which while it may or may not be true has merit and can be argued. In fact, I’d add that white supremacy has been created whole-cloth by those demanding every day from dawn until dawn again, that white people must create and maintain a white consciousness where even the concept of white consciousness was an odd duck no one even considered 20 years ago *except* a hand full of inbred and thoroughly pathetic white supremacists. So sure, it’s real and they exist. But lets talk about who insists upon racializing every thing why don’t we?

              The failure to racialize life does not make someone a racist. Nor does alarm at the weird genesis of a demanded and utterly enforced concept of overwhelming whiteness mean that someone is a racist. Liking Diamond and Silk or Candice Owens does not make someone a racist. Watching Fox News or Tucker Carlson or finding Greg Gutfeild funny at least occasionally does not make someone a racist. Voting for Trump does not make someone a racist.

              If the RWA is in fact intending to be a liberal Democrat organization that mounts witch hunts on conservatives or libertarians (who piss everyone off) they’re well able and welcome to do so, but lets not pretend that someone has to actually BE racist because that shows a lack of integrity.

              1. Please read my whole comment AND the article I linked to about Grimshaw. I never called Tucker Carlson a”known racist” and I only mentioned him because Grimshaw deleted all the other tweets and it was the (one of 600+) mentioned by Tisdale.
                The article give multiple examples of Grimshaw racism while functioning as the romance buyer for a major bookstore. AND the complaint was never about Grimshaw or how she was treated. That was just so Tisdale could show she and her company was being persecuted. (And she specifically says it is done by someone other than Milan. I only pointed this out because people mistakenly keep saying this all started because of one twitter “like” by either the Tisdale or Davis, which is not true. Grimshaw is neither the complainer nor the author and it was over 600 likes/retweets AND a documented history of racism in the romance industry.
                Your opinion on whether white supremacy is real or a political construct and your comments on racism is a dog whistle and has nothing to do with the discussion that is taking place. If you’re implying that description I have already cited are not racist (please find my other comments before you ask for citations as I have given several already) then I have will not engage with you because we have intrinsically different opinion on what racism is.

                1. Here is my issue. You, like so many others, have taken the controversy down to a single factor—racism. If you were to go back and read the reason (and note the singular) for RWA taking the action it did, it was because Milan’s behavior reflected negatively on the organization. It specifically said it could not take action on her Tweets because that fell outside the purview of the organization’s rules. (I’m paraphrasing here and pre-coffee, so please take that into consideration.) By going straight to the racist card, you are ignoring a major part of what happened.

                2. Thanks for the breakdown, Ime. Proves beyond doubt (in my mind) that ALL of this was a witch hunt to “out” and destroy anyone in RWA who leans to the right politically. Milan had a personal beef and as the apparent white-knight in the RWA to seek for and censure anyone who dared to write a single line with a whiff of “racism”, she can do no wrong. Sure, it was just an accident that she picked up a book with a Chinese character where her “expertise” by virtue of being half-Chinese herself could NEVER be questioned!

                  Amanda, Thanks for this blog. I cannot express how relieved I was to find the truth of this mess with RWA. You are literally one of maybe two or three sites that are giving the truth, and the only one that has such amazing people commenting. Very impressive!

                  FYI: Not sure if you are aware, but the handful of authors I have seen who tweeted or posted on FB in a contrary way are now completely gone. Whole profiles and pages deactivated. I can only guess why, but seems clear to me.

                  1. I have a pretty good guess as well. We saw this sort of thing going on during Sad Puppies. And thanks for your kind words. Hope you stick around. We have a pretty good group of folks here.

                3. “Your opinion on whether white supremacy is real or a political construct”

                  My opinion is that 20 years ago white supremacy was real but a belief held only by inbred losers who lived with a constant consciousness of their whiteness. We despised these people.

                  My opinion is that now there is a strong and relentless demand that we ALL live with a constant consciousness of our whiteness. Some people object to this but the end result is that, indeed, more and more people are living with a constant consciousness of their whiteness.

                  Congratulations!

                  “and your comments on racism is a dog whistle and has nothing to do with the discussion that is taking place.”

                  You know who hears dog whistles, right?

                  “If you’re implying that description I have already cited are not racist (please find my other comments before you ask for citations as I have given several already) then I have will not engage with you because we have intrinsically different opinion on what racism is.”

                  We do! We absolutely do. Because I think that *racism* is a description of actions and attitudes that pre-judge people negatively because of their race.

                  I believe that racism is harmful, always, to all people. Harmful to the racist. Harmful to children in racist households. Harmful to individuals who are subject to it, no matter who they are. And harmful, toxic even, to society as a whole. There’s no up or down or direction to it. It just is.

                  Am I wrong?

                  But it’s certainly true that we have different opinions on what racism is. Because I think that it’s actually racism.

              2. Here’s the really bizarre thing — Milan is claiming (on Twitter) that if authors of color choose to remain in the RWA after this, they are working for White Supremacists. She is literally claiming that any officers now and going forward of the RWA board are White Supremacists…

                I mean, isn’t she kind of proving Tucker Carlson’s point…?

                I can’t stand Carlson, personally, nor any of those cable news opinion show hosts, and I don’t know what his entire argument was, but based on the headline alone, she’d doing exactly what the headline implies.

                1. Yup. If that’s what she’s doing, I’m not surprised. It’s something we’ve seen before and will see again. There is ONE way to be for diversity and she’s in charge of it. And anyone, particularly people of color, who don’t fall in line will be targets. Particularly people of color. It’s risky to step out of bounds.

                  Sci-fi and fantasy saw similar with a person who styled him/herself as “Requires Hate” who ended up directing most of the mob action and harassment against people of color, minorities and others who were most vulnerable to that sort of social censure.

                  All I can say is, come to the Dark Side. We have cookies.

                2. Seriously?! Do you have a link to this or specific info to hunt it down? I can’t find this on Milan’s twitter thread, but it is a LONG litany of garbage so I may have missed it. Thanks!

    2. How best to put this… you’re on the wrong blog if you expect your self-flagellating to cut any ice here. Most of the authors here have had to endure unfounded accusations of racism and sexism for failing to kowtow sufficiently to self-appointed moral guardians who use said accusations as a way to try and decrease competition. Your automatic assumption that someone saying they were offended means that there was something to be offended by that deserves penance completely disregards human nature and, something tells me, does not apply to those who do not share your political and cultural views.

      Now, if you have actual evidence that the book in question was actually racist, and that the author of the book had not changed her views in the twenty years since she’d written it, by all means, share it with us. As matters stand, however, you’re simply confirming the conclusion that it’s a pity Milan and RWA can’t both lose.

    3. O Yaz, horseshit.

      The alleged cost of public racist statements is ‘lack of feeling welcome’. This doesn’t matter at all compared to other criteria.

      The most important criteria are true positives and false negatives for domestic mass murder along racial lines.

      (When you can tell when a mass murder is starting, you can take countermeasures. False positives are also useful to identify, because some countermeasures are costly and don’t belong in the standard risk management portfolio. )

      Systemically seeking apologies for actual and alleged racism has the appearance of inviting struggle sessions. Inviting struggle sessions has the effect of policing speech.

      This wouldn’t be a problem under a leftist model where control of speech controls opinion or controls reality. As it is, speech control has the effect of concealing shifts in opinion, which permit surprising shifts in reality caused by those changed opinions. See the fall of communism in Romania for an example of such a preference cascade.

      Furthermore, the utility of such speech control for communist goals, and that the arc of communism bends towards mass murder does not go without note. It is not clear to outsider to what extent such calls for speech control are inspired by a desire for communist mass murder. Additionally, the true levels of support for such speech policing among ethic minorities are not obvious to an outsider. If an internal mass murder of communists is necessary to prevent a greater internal mass murder by communists, scope becomes an interesting question. Hence the attempt by communists to paint all ethnic minorities as fervent supporters is potentially a problem for ethnic minorities, in that if true it would be by far the strongest of the arguments for mass murder of ethnic minorities. As an outsider, it is pretty clearly not entirely true. If we carefully sort out the false information, we are left with much weaker arguments for mass murder of ethnic minorities, which would not be sufficient to convince a significant number of whites to even literally cross the street. Counter intuitively, calls against racist speech could potentially have an opposite impact if public channels of information transfer are sufficiently discredited in white eyes. (Remaining sufficiently credible channels of information transfer are sufficient that plausible cases against mass murder are widely distributed. Will woke policing eventually discredit those channels?)

        1. You don’t like it here, there’s the door. Bob discussed the issue with you, something you have yet to do. You came here, cast aspersions and refuse to debate. That’s not how we do things here. Hell, give us a good argument, supported by facts and you will find we even change our minds. But we don’t cave in to mere demands that we think this way or that.

          1. 1. Grimshaw: http://teachmetonight.blogspot.com/2019/08/racism-and-corporate-romance-buyer.html (this link was in my prior reply.)
            1A. Tisdale quotes is from her complaint that Amanda linked in the first article about this.
            2. Milans response is linked at the bottom of all the responses when I sent it to Amanda, who agreed she had not seen them. Go to the bottom of this page to find the responses
            3. Not sure what you expect here? Information that yellow & slant eyed are east asian stereotypes and that it is harmful? read the section on physical attributes here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotypes_of_East_Asians_in_the_United_States

            1. About that wiki article… For the sake of sounding racist, I kind of thought most East Asians do have epicanthic fold, almond shaped eyes and straight dark hair. That’s not stereotype, that’s just how they look. If I were ever prompted, during a conversation, to describe eyes of a Korean person for example, and I use almond-shaped as an adjective, I am a racist? Really?

              Also (from the article) assuming one’s origin and thinking all Asians are part of just one big culture can be sign of an ignorance, not only racism. Because, intent and one’s motive matter to determine which one is it. And lumping everyone in the “racist” basket certainly isn’t helping anyone.

              There is a big difference between stereotypical use of a language and racial stereotyping. And apparently people can’t distinguish between these two. And that’s without taking into account that this book is 20 years old, so who knows if this was stereotypical in romance back then.

              1. As an Asian with almond shaped eyes, I hereby bestow upon everyone here the GRAND PERMISSION *imagine my making some sort of elegant, noble gesture* to use the description ‘almond shaped eyes’, regardless of whether or not you are Caucasian! *cue crack of thunder and the darkening of skies to sudden midnight* THUS DO I DECLARE THIS ETERNAL LAW!!!!

                Tongue-in-cheek aside, I’ve found the politically correct refusal to use ethnic physical description enraging, as it does nothing but erase the face of the people the politically correct pretend to be protecting. Erasing part of their individual identity, as if people were nothing but cookie-cutter gingerbread men, with gray, bland non-features. ‘Making us equal’, by removing features that make us individuals. Obfuscating, veiling language, forcing a virtual niqab on people, complete with the netting over the eyes to hide even that.

                Amusingly, names are definitely not a useful descriptor; as I am reminded of a man my father knew from the American Embassy in Paris (Dad himself a diplomat then), who he said as ‘Having the most German of German names’ but when he was met in the flesh, was a (tall) very stereotypical Japanese man. (He was adopted by a German couple who later immigrated to the US.) Such an individual also defies the trope that ‘people of color’ don’t ‘get ahead’ or some foolish thing, so I’m sure that the politically correct would rather ignore his anomalous existence, or alternately, shove him into the ‘Asians Are Practically White People’ basket.

  7. Courtney Milan has a long history of cyber bullying. I personally know of two other women who have lost paid work in publishing because of unsubstantiated accusations of bigotry levelled against them by Courtney Milan. Publishers are gun shy and eager to avoid the bad publicity.
    What saddens me the most is that Ms. Milan is now advocating that Carol Ritter lose her job. She wants a woman to lose her livelihood because her ego is hurt. Stop and think about that for a second.

    1. Unfortunately, this tactic has been used–and sometimes successfully–too often over the last few years. We’ve seen books pulled because someone didn’t like what the author wrote or had to say. They went to Twitter and got the mob involved and even though we are talking about only a handful of folks in the grand scheme of things, publishers caved. During the Sad Puppies campaigns, we saw certain folks in the SF/F genre openly advocating for publishers to drop authors who supported the Puppies. We saw other authors, who weren’t taking sides, hounded simply because Puppies liked their work and supported it to win the Hugo. There are those who feel they have the right to tell the rest of us what we should write and what we should read. But heaven help everyone if someone says “No”. Worse, if someone calls into question the “message” the self-appointed guardians of the genre puts out.

      Things have gotten worse since 2016. As noted in the comments here and in response to the other posts about this controversy, we are seeing authors and editors targeted simply because of their political stance. It doesn’t matter if their work is good or not. These poor authors have dared come out publicly in a manner that doesn’t fit the cause du jour. Publishers, because they don’t want controversy, too often cave and then they wonder why authors are leaving their houses and why readers are turning to indie works. Someone has to finally draw a line. Publishers need to quit caving to the handful of folks who take to social media to drum up controversy. Writers need to understand there are alternatives available to them. Most of all, readers need to continue doing what they do, speak with their money.

      1. Being current on the changing vocabulary proves that you’re right-thinking enough to stay current on the changing vocabulary. Being well meaning but putting a priority on other things so you miss a language shift just proves you don’t care enough. It also works as tribal signaling because you know the in-group lingo.

        It’s got nothing to do with the words and everything to do with being current.

        Five years from now POC and WOC will be considered racist and there will be a new correct group of terms to use.

      2. *dry* Should I declare ‘colored people’ to be perfectly fine to use? It’s certainly less awkward. (Seems to me it’s always the “WOC”s who make declarations on what is considered acceptable language; we can …*wicked grin* …comply… with that, right?)

    1. One of the best Bloom County cartoons ever was the one where the well-meaning liberal guy was trying to explain to his mother why “colored girl” was offensive but “girl of color” was perfectly fine.

    2. I consider it racist as hell, but then I’m just a white male conservative so I don’t count. ~:D

      Courtney Milan has pronouns listed on her Farcebook page, that’s also a damning admission as far as I’m concerned. You got pronouns, you’re a problem looking for a place to happen.

  8. I guess I need to repeat what I posted on one of the other Milan updates. MGC welcomes anyone who wants to comment on a post. The only caveat is we aren’t going to sit still if all someone does is come in and does a drive-by comment which attacks others who have commented on a post. You don’t have to agree with us. We love a good debate. But be prepared and come with your arguments and facts to support them. Otherwise, you will be reminded where the door is and our readers, who are loyal even if they don’t always agree with us, will use you as chew toys.

    For those of you who are new to MGC and who have come here to discuss the issue, really discuss it, welcome. We hope you’ll stick around. We are sometimes rowdy but we will respect anyone who doesn’t mind scrapping it up with us and having a good, fact-based debate. Hell, we’ll even welcome good, well-expressed opinions, just be prepared to support them.

      1. also, I would like to point out that in her response Milan links to articles/research about why those stereotypes are harmful.

        1. Again, I will point out that she is basing her opinion–and her attack–based on a partial reading of a sample. Her stance would be a great deal stronger if she actually read the damn book. The arguments of her supporters would be better if they read the book instead of simply parroting what others have said.

        2. Academic studies on anything involving humans and their psychology, from how stereotypes are harmful — really, you’re writing a book with NO stereotypes? Excuse me while I fall on the floor laughing. Is this going to be 25000 pages? And who can follow the plot? — to how people act when put in power over other people,are largely irreproducible and susceptible to tampering. Or IOW “politicality correct horsehit, suitable to the times in which they’re being created.”
          You guys have NO IDEA how much your “studies” echo the ways that legitimate racists created studies to prove races were “inferior” or degenerate.
          You know what actually is harmful? Demanding that people of a certain skin color/ethnicity act in a certain way or be treated in a certain way because of it.
          That is STRAIGHT UP RACISM. Every time you say someone is acting “white?” or “Black” or “Purple with poka dots?” RACISM.
          People aren’t their color. Everyone of us is ultimately human. Unless they make themselves not so. And while there might be SOME inheritance of tendencies, culture is also not inherited, or we’d all be speaking Sumerian and poking sticks into the ground in the fertile triangle.
          You clever idiots with your diversity of skin color enforce rigid ideological conformity created by a Marxist (and no, there is no validity in Marx) faculty raised on Gramscian pap. And then you pat yourselves on the back, as you march in lock step and point to your “studies” which are produced by the mile to fit the current academic fashion.
          (Spits.)
          Go ahead, quote from the little red book. It would be more HONEST.

          1. Oh, oh and Sarah, remember how ANGRY certain (notably white, rabidly left) folks would be if us (non-white, ethnic minority) women didn’t behave in a way they felt was the only way acceptable? (Y’know, be social-justice-warriory zealot like them?) How dare we exist!!11 and have minds of our own! How are we allowed to have opinions that they do not approve of! And how, we are declared ‘not women’ by these same people, who claim to be so protective of minority women, and subjected to the vilest of invective, simply because we’re not ‘their’ well behaved minority women?

            (and yes, I think it needs reiterating, the ones who do that are the real racists.)

        3. I think that enforcing white consciousness is harmful. I think that “white privilege” is an assertion of white supremacy by another name. “Look how amazing I am, but I feel really bad about it.” It’s practically institutionalizing a race based class system while allowing a ritual confessional so not only do you get to be amazing, you get to be righteous on top of it all.

          It causes HARM.

          Nothing can compel me to be a participant in that.

          1. Son encountered the whole ‘but only white people are racist’ stupid a few weeks ago, came home muttering about the illogic of it, and I pointed out that his little sister is probably paler white than most Caucasians, because she has that alabaster skin color inherited from the Chinese ancestors from my side of the family, which is culturally treasured by Far East Asians as a highlight of beauty, that we have skin whitening creams. I snarked “So, to Asians, anyway, it’s … ‘okay to be white.'”

            1. Well, it destroys the utility of the word racist because it no longer has anything to do with attitudes, behavior, or prejudice. It’s not what you do, it’s who you are.

              Orwell would be proud.

              (Well he’d be horrified, but probably a little proud of himself for getting it so right.)

              The true bottom line is that there’s nothing wrong with (old definition) racism anymore. It’s even encouraged. It’s certainly excused!

    1. I’ve been reading through a lot of the timelines on all this and using links to read other information and I belong to a chapter that has been sharing information about what’s going on, which is good. There are a few areas in all this I’m confused on.

      When I initially found out about this it was just a heads up and no additional information so I did a search and started finding things and was able to read, first the complaint and then after that the rebuttal and then the Boards support of the conclusion.

      When I read the complain I thought it was well written. I found it interesting that she applied her complaints to specific sections of the policy and I thought well of Tisdale for trying to protect her people and her new company.

      I don’t know that I was overly supportive of the complaint or against it. I did question to myself why does it matter if someone likes racist things, they are just a different view point it doesn’t mean they are actively going around using bad words at people and minimizing people because of what they look like or how they act. I felt an investigation would deal with this and get more information about what is what and I also wondered how they would go about doing an investigation.

      I then read Courtney’s rebuttal and the detail she went into and how well she covered the complaints, I don’t know how they could have found her at fault.

      The Board decision document I’m still confused by as it didn’t seem to explain why it made it’s decisions just what the decision was.

      My further confusion by all this is how has all this been made public? The complaint should have been private and to me this is very important that complaints are private, no matter the decision, otherwise it prevents other people from complaining especially if they are publicly humiliated as a result.

      I’m also very concerned about the writer/editor who’s work was called out as racist and I can’t help but think it’s unfair. Sure, now, it is being called out as being racist but was it at the time it was written? We as a society grow more aware, hopefully, with each generation and different societal cultural acceptances are updated so what was sweet in the past can be quite cringe worthy now. But in order for society awareness to change those old ideals must be able to be written to learn from and grow and enhance how we live the future.

      I get that people would be able to discuss and disecht

  9. I have been following this cluster since it ramped up last week, and even gave my thoughts on another blog. Initially I started to receive upvotes and then, strangely enough, the voting system was shut off. The mob began to call me out and before I could respond I was blocked. In a nutshell, I pointed out that this “pour salt on their fields” mentality will foster a continuum where subsequent generations are hair-triggered to “look back in anger” at anything that doesn’t comport with their modern day thought police. Not to throw stones, but I am certain some will say I am, yet Milan’s own history and writings themselves have tropes, and “tropes-in-the making”, ripe for some even more woke new kid on the block to call her out for them.

    Early in her career, she picked a western pen name and wrote books targeted at the white women her mob now disparages and castigates. Even when she did begin to write stories that were more diverse, there were aspects that some might consider “oppressive” stereotypes – as I stated in the other blog, her Chinese heroine Tina Chen meets and falls in love with White Billionaire boy Blake Reynolds – the very same “a woman of color need only find a westerner to find happiness” trope that she vilified Davis for in her book which was written decades earlier.

    Milan has pushed her political advocacy as much as anything else; this, along with the notoriety she gained in the Judge Kozinski scandal (which, mind you, neither her nor Justice Kavanaugh spoke up about Kozinski’s antics when they were his clerks), as well as her fights against plagiarism vaulted into folk hero status by her constituency. Understandably, she enjoys playing to the crowd and she has only grown more virulent with those who don’t share her worldview. She ramped it up until she got out over her skis and commenced with her carpet-bombing against political enemies in the only place where she could break toys, and that was within the industry. She may have a law degree, but maybe there’s a reason she writes romance novels; apparently her classes on libel, defamation and tortuous interference must be in her rearview mirror.

    I read all the complaints and Milan’s response; I was looking for the part about the Nazi Rallies and the Cross Burnings, but all I got was a dissertation on 23 and me and the unhinged tweets of a bullying “advocate” on a mission and it was painfully obvious – Milan even admits she didn’t read the book and she could just as easily be railing against her own “Trade Me” or “Find Me” when she refers to harmful stereotypes. She smart enough to know she’s stepped in it – she even backs up on the claim that she called anyone racist, which she freely does everywhere else; attempting to buffer her liability she protests that she only stated that passages in the book were racist – yeah, okay, well “a F**king Racist Mess” to be exact.

    Reading up the thread and also on twitter, I am fascinated by all those who think the time, manner and place Milan chose to call out this publisher and editor were fair game – bylaws of any association be damned, you can’t target a business enterprise and seek to do harm, impair contracts etc. through defamation, particularly against a competitor. Beyond what’s on her twitter feed, I’m sure there is plenty that could be found in the way of correspondence in discovery.

    It gives me pause as to whether some of these who are coming to her defense are jumping on the bandwagon because they fear the Milan’s scrutiny of their past writings and then be faced with a similar shunning

    Another interesting all-too-common technique of the pitchfork and torches crowd is to not only fault a writer for what they do write, but also claim defacto racism if the writer’s story and characters don’t meet their amoebic definition of inclusive. Some authors have rightfully said they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t – if they write what they know, it is not inclusive enough; if they strive for this nebulous standard of inclusion, they are pummeled because they are not a “member of the community” and “how dare they appropriate and speak to the experiences which they know nothing about”. I’ve even read where some of them have offered their services to impart their wisdom on what constitutes diversity and inclusion to authors, going so far as to say that they when they perform these “services” – “Don’t speak, just listen!”. I read it as tantamount to extortion “pay me not to flame you.”

    This is the Crucible come to life with Hiedi Bond/Courtney Milan assuming the role of Thomas Putnam, transposing cries of “Witch!” with “Racist!”

    She has her twitter enablers and probably a number of those who she has silenced; but in the end, it is up to the consumer and there is a whole huge swath of the reading public that no one ever hears from who will go on hiatus or spend their money elsewhere in search of some other much-needed diversion, rather than paying for a lecture about how they are racist oppressors, if for no other reason than one of the books they enjoyed decades ago had an Asian girl with blue eyes.

    My apologies Amanda if this was too vitriolic.

    1. I can’t love this enough. Why aren’t there “like” buttons on here? LOL!

      In all seriousness, not vitriolic in the least, Stefan, at least in my opinion. But I am just a recent visitor so take that how you wish. I tried to read some of the tweets by Milan and her cabal, but it makes me too angry. It is also a bit amusing, to be honest, in how she is playing the victim while continuing to lecture anybody who breathes the slightest contrary opinion with loads of convoluted language essentially saying, “Of COURSE the book is racist and if only YOU weren’t a racist white woman (compared to my deeply ethnic WOC-ness being half-Chinese) the horrific racism would be plain to see!”

      Gah! Frankly, as an RWA member (at least for now) I am really glad they all took a walk from the org and hope they keep on walking far, far away. The only hope for RWA in my opinion is people in charge who aren’t on a SJW crusade.

    2. I know what blog you are talking about and I had liked your comment! I use to like that blog’s podcast but they’ve become a lot more preachy and political in the past year and I couldn’t stand it.

  10. Amanda, I really enjoyed debating this and discussing this with most of these commenters but I feel that the discussion is becoming about the reality/value of prejudice, race as a construct, white supremacy, racism in our society which has nothing to do with your articles or my interest are. Plus I am willing to give examples but when all studies and research on a subject are devalued because they are academic there is no way to prove a point for or against. I really don’t see how a discussion on race can move forward if it considered to be enforcing “white consciousness” and “harmful”. I don’t know about you, but I don’t always pick up on what is harmful to someone of a minority viewpoint but I would like to learn so I don’t hurt someone without meaning to. For example the word Oriental – I love this word, which brings images of mysterious men speaking other languages and the luxury & mystic of the Orient Express. But my friend who has children of Asian descent says that calling them Oriental cast them as other and unknownable because of the mysterious and exotic connotations while her children all unexotically American.
    Thanks for moderating an interesting discussion.

    1. I hope you come back to the blog. We can get contentious at times but we are more than glad to debate. Not all of us will agree on anything. I appreciate the fact that you came and were willing to discuss the issues and provide links. I promise, there will be those who will go out and find links to counter yours if they see the notification of a response. Others will comment from their own experience, some will be “white” and others will be “persons of color”.

      The problem is, too many of us who are regulars here have been on the receiving end of the accusations that we can’t write something or understand something because of “white privilege”, whether we are actually white or not. It has been assumed we are—heck, it’s been assumed some of us are white, Mormon males just because of political or social stances or the willingness to speak up in support of someone holding an unpopular opinion, whether we agree with the opinion or not—and used to try to hurt us professionally.

      I believe it was you who asked in a comment for an example of someone of Chinese heritage being ashamed of it. I can’t give you a link but I can give you a personal anecdote. Several of them, in fact. On my father’s side of the family, my great-great grandmother was born on the Trail of Tears. The family has the documentation to prove it. She was embarrassed to be Native American, even in Oklahoma where so many had settled. She and subsequent generations denied that side of our heritage until my father’s generation. Why? Because she felt like she wasn’t as good as the “whites”. Yes, it was a social construct of the time. Why do I put “whites” in quotes? Because many of those who held the negative opinions weren’t white but mixed breeds, to be a bit crude about it. But she was embarrassed by her heritage and taught her children and grandchildren to be as well.

      More recently, my mother’s family is of German descent. Some were only first generation over when World War II broke out. They hid their German ancestry from their neighbors. Some changed their names to those that sounded less German. Yes, it was a time of war, but they were ashamed of what their homeland was doing and they were ashamed of being German. Some have yet to revert back to their original surnames and still carry that shame with them. So yes, there are people who are ashamed of their ancestry.

    2. “I don’t know about you, but I don’t always pick up on what is harmful to someone of a minority viewpoint but I would like to learn so I don’t hurt someone without meaning to. For example the word Oriental – I love this word, which brings images of mysterious men speaking other languages and the luxury & mystic of the Orient Express. But my friend who has children of Asian descent says that calling them Oriental cast them as other and unknownable because of the mysterious and exotic connotations while her children all unexotically American.”

      I do not think you should spend that much time policing your own choice of words to describe anyone who’s not white based on what *ONE* non-white person deems offensive or racist. More than likely that person speaks from personal experience only and is extrapolating to speak for, say, all Orientals. Uh, what now? People are gonna be walking on eggshells just trying to describe someone else who’s physically different from them. It’s a minor detail that’s not worth stressing out over,

      Just a couple cents from someone who, btw, isn’t white. (Non-whites are not monolithic on this, obviously. But that’s the beauty of frank discussion, no?)

      1. Oriental is a useful descriptor – it particularly describes the set of features that are usually set to ‘East Asian’, distinguishing them from Middle Eastern (think Arabic feature sets), or Central Asian (the range of which can vary from Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, etc) and South-East Asian / Malay.

        Being Asian myself (Filipino, with decidedly ambiguous enough Oriental features that I’ve gotten Japanese people talking to me in Japanese, mistaking me as one of their own, or Chinese, or Thai. Or the native Guam Camorro. Fun times!) It’s a physical descriptor. It’s not racist to say ‘brown, almond-shaped eyes, golden-brown skin, black hair’, or ‘blond hair, blue eyes, milky white skin with freckles’ nor is it offensive to note ‘and she had six fingers on one hand, all painted a different color.’ They’re only PART of the description of a person, and not ‘the everything.’

        Only the racists would find that offensive, or make an issue of it.

        1. The irony being that it was originally definitely the Near East — or farther West — the Orient being the land of the rising sun and the Occident being the land of the setting sun. The Romans would even include Greece in the Orient.

    3. “I don’t know about you, but I don’t always pick up on what is harmful to someone of a minority viewpoint but I would like to learn so I don’t hurt someone without meaning to. For example the word Oriental – I love this word, which brings images of mysterious men speaking other languages and the luxury & mystic of the Orient Express. But my friend who has children of Asian descent says that calling them Oriental cast them as other and unknownable because of the mysterious and exotic connotations while her children all unexotically American.”

      Oh, for crying out loud. Your friend is extrapolating her own sentiments about a word that’s still useful to describe someone’s physical appearance to everyone in the same boat without context. You don’t have to police yourself just so – who’s got time for that?

      1. It’s the ultimate no-win. After all, if someone *doesn’t* cast people as their ethnicity and race, then you’re denying it. And then the complaint is that the (not making up this example) Korean-American detective written by the Korean-American writer who doesn’t do properly “Korean” sorts of things but rather does “American” sorts of things, earns the author a twitter mob and criticism for doing it wrong.

        But if you do cast people as their ethnicity and race then you’re almost certainly doing that wrong, too. You’ve presented them as “exotic” or whatever.

        Personally I think that the amazing thing that really good authors do is manage to make the mundane exotic. The truly talented writer weaves magic into a city street, a small town, suburbia, and into the people who live there.

        And the really talented author makes the exotic into something ordinary and real.

        I’ve lived a couple of years in the Philippines and the most striking thing is this, that no matter where you go, there you are. And people describing as exotic these real places annoy me because they aren’t exotic to anyone living there. And that’s tourists for you. They never see through to the mundane and are so proud of themselves for brushing up against what seems to be, to them, almost a stage play. But I’ve also talked to my coworkers in the Philippines and discovered that I’m exotic and the place I come from nearly unfathomable. No poisonous snakes? How is that possible? And I’ve driven my classmates from foreign countries across the dullest and most ordinary farmland while they stare out the window. “What is that?” “Oh (yawn) I think it’s an anhydrous ammonia tank.”

    4. lme said: “I really don’t see how a discussion on race can move forward if it considered to be enforcing “white consciousness” and “harmful”.

      I’d prefer to write my books in peace and not have to worry about random lunatics freaking out because I wrote “silken tresses” to describe a Japanese woman’s hair. Which I did, so trigger warning there.

      Yes, a White Male dared write a fictional Japanese female character into a book. Also a Chinese one, an Indian one and a Korean one. Oh, the horror.

      Let me tell you a little something. I’m getting pretty close to publishing my first book. Its got a sexy girl on the cover, its got women in “Traditional Roles” in the story, its got Big Damn Heroes and Damsels In Distress. It’ll be released on Kindle and I’ll probably have -dozens- of sales. If I’m super lucky I’ll sell a couple hundred.

      I ought to be worried about spell check, continuity, and if the audience likes it enough to buy the next one. But what I’m actually worried about is which asshole out there is going to start up a shirt-storm on Twitter because I wrote “silken tresses” or some other completely innocent trope, stereotype or generalization about a FICTIONAL character.

      Watching the likes of Courtney Milan reach back 20 years into the past to smear an author as a racist this year, and then watching her skate because the RWA didn’t lawyer-up fast enough, that’s pretty educational. You may be sure that I’ll be writing under a pen name, just like I comment under a pen name.

      That is the -real- result of the current race-fixation. Lots of pen names and guys quietly preparing themselves in case the mob comes after them. Was that what you had in mind, or do you think maybe the whole thing is going a bit sideways?

      1. On the white consciousness thing really, it’s entirely possible to have discussions about race and how people feel and their own experiences and relate as *people* but what is going on is a demand that we don’t engage as individuals with our varied experiences but first do this confessional that frames the conversation away from individuals. What you’re allowed to say, have opinions about. Stay in your lane. No? First you have to accept what your lanes are. Punching up or punching down. We all have to be sorted.

        And then the people demanding that we all be sorted into our “lanes” act like they’re not racist. And the people finding themselves sorted either embrace being sorted or tell the sorters to stick it where the sun don’t shine.

      2. It depends how you categorize your book. If it’s erotica or erotic romance, there’s no reason for you to worry (I think). Erotic romance is like a guilt free zone for writers, as long you’re not actually trying to offend someone with some especially malicious words. But in contemporary romance category…if your books does get successful and it reaches far corners of romancelandia, you better hope you didn’t write any generalization about Korean or Japanese people in there without 5 sensitivity readers on their culture and lot of research. And since you say you wrote characters in traditional roles, i.e. submissive East-Asian woman trope (which is one of the stereotypes about them)…I wish you all the luck in publishing, but what can I say – choose words carefully and label your books properly. Sometimes proper categorization makes all the difference. Trust me, I watched that type of train-wreck too many times on Twitter.

        1. “It depends how you categorize your book.”

          Its science fiction. It has aliens and robots in it. That does not appear to matter to the type of people lme seems to be representative of.

          I’m concerned that there are idiots out there prepared to take offense that a robot made to look like a Japanese woman would be described as having “silken tresses”. And by take offense I mean slander me all over the internet as a racist.

          How does that kind of behavior, which we’ve all seen performed ad nauseam the last ten years, do anything but foster an atmosphere of paranoia and self-censorship?

          “…you better hope you didn’t write any generalization about Korean or Japanese people in there without 5 sensitivity readers on their culture and lot of research.”

          Luckily for me I’ve already been slandered as a racist bigot all over the internet, having another pen name be dragged through the mud won’t be much of a bother.

          Sensitivity readers etc, that will not be happening. If I can’t write a work of fiction without fear that I’ll be hounded down and pilloried, then I’ll have to turn my attentions to that problem first.

    5. When it comes to emotions, there is no impartial objective standard. There will always be crazy people, whose feelings will be hurt no matter what you do. There will always be dishonest people, who will lie to you about your actions hurting their feelings.

      The sane answer is to not seek a standard of behavior that fits the criteria of only deliberately hurting feelings. If you do seek such standard of behavior, the most successful you will be is behaving like the imaginary people in your head want. If you are less successful, you will be a nervous wreck from failures to adjust your model to reality.

      If you want to give citations of greater credibility than an article from the Aryan Studies Journal written by someone from the Institute for the Advancement of White Supremacism, check out the 2010 census. If you have a politics of ethnic factions, what kind of political stability can you have with those fractions? You can have stability under two conditions. a) political minorities can survive if there are strong protections for the political rights of political minorities. b) there is a balance of power between large factions, and those large factions protect political minorities backing the large factions.

      There was a theory that a pan-minority faction could be constructed, and be viable in American politics. Call it Jew, Asian, Native American, Hispanic, Black. Problem one, viability was based on forecasts of demographics, and demographic forecasting is garbage. My understanding is that population forecasting is garbage by three years into the future. Problem two, probably too much conflict between the groups for real stability. But you can make it seem viable as long as white is not a political faction, and the pan-minority faction gets white votes.

      What are the results of ‘conversations about race’? The 2008 election was the result of white voters who wanted to believe in an intelligent educated black politician with benevolent intentions towards them. We got a lot of ‘conversations about race’. Look at the claims Black Lives Matter made about white on black police misconduct, and look at the cases of white on black police misconduct that BLM did not report on. Obama claimed that Trayvon Martin could have been his son; consider Martin’s autopsy reports. Obama’s environmentalism, the way he talked about poor whites, and the way he talked about poor blacks, persuaded a lot of poor whites that Obama hated them. So those poor whites, who had voted for Obama in 2008, voted for Trump in 2016. Wanting a ‘discussion about race’ is wanting to remind people about the model of race. If you want to do that anyway, either pick an audiance of sycophants who you cannot radicalize further, or be prepared for disagreement.

      My advice is that you learn more about talking to and about specific individuals. If you talk only about people in buckets of size ten million or a hundred million, you lose so much information that the approximation is useless. Categories of size 3, or 5, or 8 may be small enough to be useful. If you look at twenty individuals, you may find that two are close enough together that it makes sense to contrast them to the rest.

      Analyzing people as individuals, you can sanely judge the impact of hurtful words, and adjust your behavior.

  11. Someone, hopefully on this post but possibly on one of the others, claimed the editor in question had never published a minority author and that is a problem. It was seen as an act of prejudice. Bear with me for a moment while I address that issue (it’s early Saturday and I haven’t had nearly enough coffee to get the brain fully functional).

    If you go back to my original post on this issue, I link to the editor’s complaint and comments. I go into further detail on them in the second post. If i remember correctly, at the time Milan asked her about how many marginalized authors she had published, she said none. But there was a caveat or two. First, and this is the most important one if true, her publishing house had yet to publish anyone. Again, I have not researched to see if this is true. I am going off her complaint to RWA and comments surrounding it. But she hadn’t published anyone and was still being hit for not publishing minority authors.

    There is a second aspect I seem to recall reading. Maybe I’m just projecting a bit here from my days as an editor. If memory serves, she commented that she doesn’t tend to ask what an author’s “identity” is beyond name. I know I certainly didn’t. I was more worried with whether the story was one our readers would want to buy and would recommend to their friends.

    This discussion evolved into a conversation about race. I thank all of you have discussed it respectfully, if a little forcefully, at times. We don’t have to agree on everything. Heck, most of us here love a good argument just for argument’s sake. I will admit, however, there have been a couple of comments (less than three, iirc) I have not let through moderation because they were nothing but drive by attacks or name-calling. Those are not going to be let through any time on my posts. Debate, support your arguments or move on.

    Finally, I want to thank those who came to the blog for the express purpose of this discussion. I’ve enjoyed, on the whole, seeing your viewpoints and discussing the issue with you. I hope you will stick around. We welcome a good debate.

  12. Folks, this is why I hesitated initially even discussing what happened. I remember the lies thrown about from certain quarters about anyone taking part in Sad Puppies. It didn’t matter what our sex, sexual preference, religion, color or anything else. We were linked with a movement the other side hated. So we were the victims of lies and, in some cases, attempts to get us “fired” from our publishers.

    It doesn’t surprise me to see some of Milan’s supporters using the same tactics. Here is a quote from a post that was brought to my attention a few minutes ago:

    Cherry Adair comes out in support of Suzan Tisdale. (Notable in that she links a blog post from the so-called Sad Puppies faction of the SFWA, an anti-diversity group that gained attention for trying to game the Hugo Awards.) Adair is known to have engaged in racist behaviour.

    Note, not only does this author claim the SPs were anti-diversity (hysterical when you look at who supported the movement and what books and movies we enjoyed and nominated for a Hugo) but she also claims Cherry Adair has engaged in racist behavior without offering support for the accusation. This is the same shit we saw for the four years of SP. Damn with some of the worst accusations possible without offering anything more than innuendo. I’m not going to link directly to the site. You can find it by following the archived link.

    1. I need to look up the “Sad Puppies” thing as that one is new to me. Or maybe I don’t want to dig into that hole! LOL!

      As for your fears of discussing this, FWIW, I applaud you and all the other here. Truly, I wish I were as brave but like others whom I am sure are staying silent, I don’t want to face what I suspect Cherry Adair has suffered. She is one I alluded to in my comment above who has now erased her entire social media presence. I shudder to imagine what attacks she has gotten. I am not even speaking too loudly amongst my fellow local RWA chapter members because I know I am in the minority in my opinions on this topic. I suppose that makes me a coward, but in my defense, I have health issues as well that make it unwise for me to get too heavily involved in drama.

      As soon as I got wind of this RWA/Milan fiasco, it felt wrong to me. I won’t belabor the whys, but it just did. I can certainly see where the RWA board, etc. seriously messed up, no doubt. But from the start with the cries of “racism” that seemed WAY over the top, and how seemingly everyone in RWA was #IStandWithCourtney without a single second of questioning, it just smelled bad, if y’all take my meaning.

      All that to say, if not for this blog with your bravery in going against the forces behind this, there would be NO WHERE else to hear the truth. Or at the least raise the questions, the possibilities, that are literally not being voiced even in the hushed whispers. “Truth” is a relative term in this case, I suppose, since I doubt anyone will ever come clean 100%. Still, a sensible person can do the math and apply logic. You have done that here, Amanda, and I am quite sure I am not the only author/RWA member who needs the assurance we are not crazy to question what is being presented as reality. Sorry for going on too long, but I really wanted you and the others to know that your efforts here are appreciated, even if we are too skittish to say so. 🙂

      1. Thank you for the kind words. They mean a great deal. I respect the RWA, have been a member in the past and was considering renewing my membership this year–I now find myself waiting to see what happens and which course the leadership decides to steer.

        What we, as authors, need to remember is we have alternatives now. Those who try to silence us only have as much power over us as we want to give them. Yes, if a writer is solely traditionally published, it’s a harder stance to take because publishers are gun shy, as we’ve seen before. But if you are a hybrid author or indie author, you have alternatives and your fans will be anxiously waiting for your next book. They want a good story, not a tickler list of social issues that detract from the plot.

      2. If you do look up Sad Puppies you’ll find a whole lot of accusations about white men wanting their white spaces. It’s the worst sort of BS too. But this is what “works” for whatever value of “works” these days. No one (who isn’t already totally pissed off to the “go f*ck yourself” stage) is going to risk being called racist. So it works.

        Try to bring up a problem and if it can be dismissed entirely by flinging accusations of racism, well, that works. It just does. And the people who do it get to feel really really good about themselves, too.

      3. “As for your fears of discussing this, FWIW, I applaud you and all the other here. ” I second this statement. It can’t be easy speaking against seemingly everyone. And this is really the only place where you can here opposing opinion. And as for “and how seemingly everyone in RWA was #IStandWithCourtney without a single second of questioning, it just smelled bad” I’m just going to quote tweet I just saw on Milan’s thread:

        “Before I read this thread 🙂 I just want to say how sorry this has happened, but I’m totally with you.”

        I mean, really? We even stopped pretending that we actually read what she says and just automatically agree? If this doesn’t say it all…

        Honestly, I don’t think that “our” opinion is in minority (don’t know if you’re familiar with it, but recent reader’s discussion about historical romance is a proof of that). We’re just not loud enough on twitter. I personally don’t have time to argue all day as some of these people have. Even if I did, twitter mobs are not exactly known as a most reasonable ones (been there, done that). And besides, the narrative has taken some major turn into personal stories about “micro-aggressions” based on race (some so absurd that I can’t help but question their validity), white guilt (seriously, there’s so much of it right now) and demonizing Damon Suede. I don’t know anything about him personally, but I do know that MM romance world loved him. Until this happened. Now, everyone has some negative story to tell about him.

        What I can tell you is that majority of readers do not care about these issues, I guaranty that. And while I’m sure that almost everyone in romance world have heard about this, there is still significant number of writers who have been completely silent. And sometimes that speaks volumes.

      4. *grin* George R R Martin got upset at an acronym I came up with, which was “A.S.P.” – which was basically ‘Anti-Sad Puppies” and I was tired of typing out the whole thing over and over again. He called it malicious. I still laugh about it to this day, because it wasn’t at all.

    2. Sad Puppies is an “anti-diversity group” in the same alternate universe where Elvis Lives, Barney is an actual T-Rex, and Spock has no beard because he identifies as an avocado.

  13. I have an idea! Let’s describe all Chinese women the same way that the medieval poet Lu Yu did!

    “Pink soft hands” (from the poem “Fonqhwang Hairpin”)

    “Pink and white hands, like roses and ricecake” (for the poem of the same name)

    Now let’s watch people’s heads explode with the horrible racism of it all.

    Oh, yeah, and all the linguistic evidence indicates that Mu Lan was a non-Chinese steppe woman. So don’t appropriate her!

    1. Being policed in a way that respects what Americans consider civil rights is appropriation if you aren’t pure blooded English. XD

      And it is wrong to write or publish in the English language if one does not have sufficient English blood quanta. I think 3/4 would hose a lot of us. If I’m recalling the anecdotes correctly, of folks here, Pete Grant would pass, and maybe many of the rest of us would not. Okay, I think Kate might also pass.

      1. Depends on whether you count Celtic or not. I’ve got a decent smattering of Manx, Scots and I strongly suspect crypto-Jewish in there. Mind you, my suspected ancestors went crypto when Longshanks was kicking out their more overt cousins, so you probably could claim English.

        1. Well, I was explicitly excluding Scots, Welsh, and Irish for this.

          But I hadn’t thought to exclude the Cornish. So I’d probably need to nail down my definition of English some, and go over your precise genealogy with you.

          So glad that wasn’t one of my serious proposals.

    2. Basically, every culture is complicated, and the past doesn’t care whether we think it was thinking correctly. So yep, some historical Chinese and Japanese feminists were very vocal about women from their countries acting “subservient,” about traditional clothing and convincing being constrictive, about American white women , or even black women, looking healthier and better fed and having strong teeth, and so on. The woker they were, the more this was true.But

      Honestly, the more traditional and less progressive “daughter of the samurai” types were prouder of the culture as it was, but also they had tended to be brought up in kindlier circumstances, with supportive families.

      1. I think your last sentence gets at something really important: the people who are going to revolt against cultural standards and denounce them are going to be the ones who have been burned by said standards–whether rightly or wrongly.

        It’s a mistake to assume that anyone’s experience is universal.

  14. When my RWA renewel came up earlier this year they had just announced the new diversity position and the new focus on it. I decided that, based on previous experience, a focus on diversity meant two things for the org. First, I would be considered part of the problem even no matter how common my “type” is as a romance writer. Second, the reason the org was worth joining for any young writer, unlike its horror, fantasy, and sci-fi counterparts would be shed in favor of increasing politicization.

    So I didn’t renew. When I got a query as to why I sent a polite answer saying the above.

    This entire kerfuffle is confirming my choice.

  15. Also, I find it interesting not many people mention that the text Courtney Milan criticized was a preview and sample of an author belonging to a publishing company from a person she had beef with before. She didn’t pick up this my by accident. No. To me it looks like she deliberately was looking for anything in Davis’ book to shout about on twitter. Thanks Amanda for being articulate about the real issues of Courtney Milan’s behavior and actions a lot better than I ever can! Rarely do I see people stand up to Courtney. People give her too much power in the romance world and I really don’t understand it. I disagree with a lot she says and how she goes about it. She always seems to tear people down in the name of good or something. She very calculating. She only every tweets about issues when it benefits her. It’s kind of scary. I’ve lost a lot of respect for a lot of big name authors for they stand with Courtney and bash those who don’t hold the same political beliefs as them.

    1. This. I’ve been following romance twitter for a long time, and it was always my impression for this and that reason that CM doesn’t choose topic she will be vocal about lightly. And yes, it is scary that she has this much power. Now, one of my favorites authors (not N. Roberts) felt pressured (due to politicization of romance and today’s climate in general) to write a blog post explaining why her characters aren’t always PC (because that doesn’t reflect real life). Since this whole drama involves 20 years old book I expect more and more authors to start to preemptively apologize for what they’ve written in the past whether they did something wrong or not. Kinda like Nora Roberts. Not that she’s wrong in that letter of hers (though I disagree with her on whether intent matters), but the notion of authors being pressured to apologize for something that probably wasn’t perceived as offensive years ago, but now is (though this is questionable since there are people who are offended by everything – false outrage – so I don’t know what the criteria is) to me is deeply troubling. They can claim sincerity all day long, but that is pressure plain and simple. And that coupled with general mood in romance today is dangerously close to censure which in 21st century should be unacceptable.

      1. Point of order: time does not determine what should or should not be customary.

        Culture and religion can prescribe custom, but none of it is strictly time dependent. Yes, cultures do change over time, but at any given point in time there will be at least several cultures.

      2. One of the great things about mostly writing in a genre long forgotten and written off as being an example of toxic masculinity, adventure fiction in the “swords &” tradition, is I know people are going to tell me everything is un-PC just because of the genre.

        So I can pre-emptively not care.

  16. UPDATE: After silence since Christmas, the RWA finally sent out a message to the membership just now. I am sure there will soon be all kinds of links to it on Twitter, etc., but the interesting part (at least to me) is this paragraph:

    “While the Ethics panel unanimously recommended a series of sanctions against Ms. Milan, the Board chose to reduce these to a one-year suspension and a permanent ban on leadership positions in RWA. After this private information was made public on December 23, it led to an intense backlash online – including the spreading of false information, threats, and personal information. The Board then held an emergency executive session, rescinding the remaining sanctions. That is where things stand and where they will remain unless a future Board decides to revisit the issues.”

    So, in other words, the mob raised a fuss and what is left of the Board got scared, so they have absolved Milan of all wrong doing. Now she can carry on with her harassment of anyone she deems “racist” in her expert opinion.

    Isn’t that just fabulous? I already resigned from my local chapter, of which I was a board member, since I knew the Milan-is-God attitude ran rampant, but was waiting to see what RWA would say. Now I am off to leave the RWA totally. Doubt I’ll get my dues back but at this point I don’t care. Adios to bad rubbish!

    Again, thanks SO SO much to all of you here who helped me to see the truth behind this mess. Y’all vindicated my gut feeling, and saved me a lot of time on the research. LOL!

  17. At least with romances featuring African-American protagonists, self-publishing or specialized publishers seem to know how to market contemporary “urban romance,” and major publishers don’t. Historical romance with African-American protagonists seems to be seeking its proper marketing, as yet.

    And do we really have to point out that bookstore chains of yore did not “buy” books from publishers? They sold shelf space, just like grocery stores.

    1. Historical romance is weird.

      I made a joke earlier about “viking” romance which (of what I’ve seen of it) is defined mostly by sex. Vikings are crude and earthy and make naughty jokes a lot. “Highland” or Scottish historical romances seem (of what I’ve seen of them) to be defined by very young protagonists and forced alliance marriages and beddings. Regencies and Victorian and such seem (of what I’ve seen of them) to have similar “this kind of sex” differences. Some paranormal romance tends to be very rapey. I’m sure there’s tons of exceptions or maybe I just got hold of a very weirdly assorted bunch of books.

      But I suppose my point is that there’s not a lot of risk to writing Viking romance with raunchy humor and a level of vulgarity. Who’s going to complain?

      And it’s all fantasy anyway.

      So apply that to Historical romance focusing on Africa or China or Samauri Japan? There’s got to be a huge market, but who would dare?

    2. Yeah, I don’t get why people are getting mad about having a separate section for African American romances. Is it wrong? Yes, in my honest opinion, but these people who argue against it and call it racists are the ones advocating for more non-white romances turning it into a niche of it’s own and kind of fetishizing it in my opinion. There are a ton of black female with white hero romances. People have awards and shelves for interracial romances. That is the marketing and selling point for these types of romances and I don’t see anyone getting mad about that. There’s mix-raced categories, awards for authors who are of color. Having the race be a selling point is wrong in my opinion but people like Courtney Milan don’t see it that way. I think it’s hypocritical. An author shouldn’t win an award on their race nor should a book win an award because of the character’s race.

  18. Interesting comment thread. It reminds me of the saying, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail (that needs to be pounded down).” It sure seems that if folks are themselves racist, everything they see is racist. I am a white male, and while I know a lot of other white folks, NONE of them sit around trying to think up ways to keep other races down. And even more shocking, I actually know people of races other than “white,” and every one of those people are like me, just trying to get ahead in life, holding a job, paying the mortgage so as to have a nice house to live in, making sure they have reliable transportation, etc. NOBODY I know is trying to put down other races in order to lift their own race.

    It has gotten so bad that newspapers won’t give a full description of a crime suspect who is black, they’ll just say “the alleged perpetrator is a male, about 30 years old, and about 6 foot tall and about 180 pounds.” Almost without exception, if the perp was a white dude, that would be in the description right up front. But some folks will say, “But it’s racist to point out a criminal is black!” I say El Toro Poopoo to that! If there is a carjacker in my neighborhood (for example), I want to know who to look out for. I don’t care if the perp is white, black, yellow, green, orange, fuchsia, mauve, or even chartreuse — I just want an accurate description of them so I can watch for them. There is nothing “racist” in an accurate description.

    For that matter, speaking of colors assigned to skin tones…. I have never met a “white” person who was colored Pantone white! (Although the pro wrestler Seamus might come close to having no pigment at all.) Even albinos have some pigment, generally, and are not Pantone white. Most black folks are varying shades of brown, very rarely a pure “black” color. And Orientals? I have never seen an Oriental person who was colored yellow, although I suppose one might have jaundice and so actually appear yellowish. And what about American Indians, the so-called “red men”? I have known a number of Native Americans, and none of them had “red” skin, unless they had just been sunburned! But we have traditionally used the above colors to describe races, just so other people would know who was being talked about.

    So, we have a bunch of racists, very mostly of the political left, who take it upon themselves to find racism everywhere they look! They still like to use hyphenated-American phrases, like African-American, Italian-American, etc. Why? Everyone who is an American, regardless of their ancestry, should just say they are an American. I am of Polish ancestry, but neither I nor any of my relatives have ever referred to themselves as Polish-Americans. We are all Americans.

    When I was a kid, I grew up in an all “white” neighborhood, although many of the families were recently from other countries. One of my grade school friend’s parents and grandparents were refugees from World War II Germany. His parents and grandparents LOVED living in the United States! Another kid was from Ireland, another from France, etc. We were all Americans. When I was around 13, some “black” families starting moving into the neighborhood. As such, the “black” kids started hanging out with the “white” kids on the playground, and would be picked to play in pick-up baseball or football games. When we had the Irish and French kids move to the neighborhood, we also started playing soccer (this was in the 1960s, so we were ahead of our time). We didn’t care what you looked like or where you came from, we only cared if you could hit and throw a baseball, throw or kick a football, or kick a soccer ball, and if you could run fast! We were a true meritocracy (which is what everything should be, but sadly isn’t). Heck, there were even a couple of girls who would play baseball with us, and they were as good of players as any of the boys.

    So my comment is running long, and I will close with “If all you see around you is racism, then perhaps YOU are the racist!”

    1. We give to the European, whose complexion is a sort of pink drab, the horrible title of a “white man”—a picture more blood-curdling than any spectre in Poe. G.K. Chesterton

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