When I received word that my book had been chosen as a RITA finalist, at first I was happy. As the day wore on and the list of finalists took shape, I had such a bad feeling. The list was overwhelmingly white, despite substantial discussion of the issue the year before
RWA is plagued with racism. Writers of color face a hostile environment at conferences and there is terrible bias in the judging process. In the history of the RITA, no Black writer has ever won, despite RWA being co-founded by Vivian Stephens, a Black woman. That is unconscionable. This prejudice has been ruthlessly grinding up people’s dreams for years, taking their money, their hopes, and giving back hurt instead. It’s time to draw the line, and I am doing so. I’m only one voice, but I cannot remain silent. At this point, the RITA is broken, and the award judging process needs to be completely reconsidered.
I can’t in good conscience benefit from a system that actively harms my colleagues of color. Therefore, I am withdrawing my book. I will not enter this contest again until my colleagues of color stand beside me on equal footing and all love stories have the same opportunity to be lauded for excellence. Thank you for taking the time to read this.