Happy Black History Month Everyone!
If you have not been following the news(I waited late to give my thoughts), the 2020 RITA AWARDS was canceled last month because of the Romance Writers of America backlash concerning racism.
I’m like, huh? What? Not Romance Writers!
The controversy began when Chinese American writer, Courtney Milan, in a Tweet, criticized a fellow member of putting “racial stereotypes” in her book. The author in question did not take too kindly to Milan’s Tweet and filed an ethics complaint saying Milan was “bullying” her and so Milan is suspended for a year-from any leadership positions as well.
Just Google Courtney Milan Tweets and you will see that she posts a slew of opinionated tweets about society…
Now, those who covered the topic kind of made it seem like this was small potatoes, nothing to worry over. In fact, The Conversation.com, reports that “CNN and NBC made it seem like “forlorn lovers in a battle”
Yet, if we know anything about America and its blood-soaked history, anything is not safe from some sort of racism or racist commentary/actions.
As a result of this publicized backlash though, 8 women of color resigned from RWA and the RITA AWARDS was canceled.
Here is My Unpopular Opinion…
I believe I’ve said it in a blog post long ago(not sure where or when), but when it comes to the arts, I do believe that is the one sacred space where racism, sexism, and other isms should cease and desist.
Having said that, I understand Milan’s position and I would not consider Milan pointing out racism, as bullying. Myself as a black woman, I cannot expect white people to write glowing stories about me and my people and I do not go to them to give me glory. If I want to see books where blacks/or POC are not in stereotypical roles and respected, I have to write those books myself. If I want to read books where my people are respected and not put in “racist concepts and structures”, I have to be selective about my reading.
There are stories that could just be that. Stories. We have to be discerning as to what is racist and what is not. I have not read any of Courtney’s books nor the woman she blasted. I’m not familiar with their stories, but I do know we can be selective about our reading.
We cannot—and I repeat CANNOT tell artists what to put into their work. Art forms should be left alone.
Yes, it is terrible that authors can put silly, hateful things in their works, but authors are not gods, only gods of their word, their craft. I cannot expect the Devil to write a glowing recommendation for me.
The moment we tell an author what to say and what kind of characters to place in their books, we now enter a zone of policing the imagination. Let us not do that. It’s okay to point out the racism and the other isms, but let’s leave it at that.