My Resignation from RWA

I wanted to post my resignation letter to RWA here for posterity and because I seriously failed at threading it correctly in Twitter. If you aren’t familiar with this situation, you can just google about the ridiculous ethics complaint against Courtney Milan or check out the Twitter hashtags #istandwithcourtneymilan and #rwashitshow. Readers may want to skip this, I just wanted to record my thoughts on this situation so people know they aren’t alone.

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I am writing to tender my resignation from RWA. Despite all my fond memories of proudly wearing my First Sale Ribbon at my first RWA National Conference in DC, I can no longer support this organization and its current leadership.

For every exciting moment I enjoyed at that convention–being congratulated on my sale to Berkley/Ace Books by my literary heroes like Nora Roberts, Jayne Ann Krentz, Kresley Cole, Kelley Armstrong, and others–there were too many of my fellow members suffering through deliberate acts of exclusion like White women jumping up from tables that Black women sat at to fellowship with the authors who should have had their backs.

I’ve heard too many tales of this organization’s failures to protect and nourish the careers of our marginalized members–seen too many instances of White people’s attempts to silence those members succeeding at every turn–but what disgusts me the most is seeing this current incomplete Board posting passive-aggressive and “woe-is-me-the-Board-didn’t-do-that” messages and emails. To see them ACTIVELY violate their fiduciary duties by making the wrong choices at every turn and deliberately declining the help of many extremely experienced past presidents and board members that MIGHT have been able to save RWA from its own terrible choices.

This is not the time to keep tone-policing, telling people to “be nice” or “be professional,” or to admonish them not to “rock the boat.”

With all due respect (which at this point is honestly not much), the boat has by now not just been rocked, it has had hundreds of holes blown into its hull and is sinking rapidly. And yet even in the midst of this figurative drowning, there are still people admonishing others to watch their tones as they sit on their deck chairs watching our own version of the Titanic go down.

I know this will have little effect, but I want to register my complete dissatisfaction for those who continue to enable this vocal minority. For those who continue to make the exact wrong choices at nearly every turn. Your actions have driven away many of our best and brightest members, and the loss of those diverse voices will cost RWA untold amounts–and I am not just talking in money. But make no mistake about that–the financial loss when this is all said and done will be staggering.

The only action this BOD has taken that I approve of is appointing Leslie Scantlebury as Interim Executive Director, but even then it came far too late. For all of the other choices–including allowing Damon Suede and Carol Ritter to stick around far longer than they should have, for sending out empty and often passive-aggressive platitudes, and outright rejecting the generous offers to help right this ship before it was too late to name just a few–I express my outright disgust and incredulity. The initial holes in RWA’s hull may not have been of your own personal doing–but the sheer rapidity at which this BOD has hastened the sinking sure has been.

To this date there have NOT been any SUFFICIENT apologies given for the terrible manner in which Courtney Milan was attacked. To this date we are bleeding out amazing members who gave many years and decades of service to this organization. To this date we are losing outstanding chapter leaders and whole entire chapters who this organization never deserved but ABSOLUTELY needed. To this date RWA is making claims that we all know are NOT true like it has only lost 20 members over this debacle.

This is unacceptable. This is not the transparency or honesty needed to right this ship.

I have no confidence my resignation will have any effect on the Board’s future choices, but please remove me from RWA’s membership. I feel that taking my dues money elsewhere is one of the last remaining methods I can use to communicate just how horribly this entire situation has been and continues to be handled.

–Kasey Mackenzie

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END. And WHEW. Sorry for those who waded through that. It was long. But I felt like I had to get all that off my chest for our many authors of color, disabled authors, and LGBTQ+ authors if not for myself.

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