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Okay, about this #RWA #IStandWithCourtney mess, having compiled all this info over the last few days, I'm going to go out on a limb and take a guess at what went down.

This is largely me speculating, just to be clear. Strap yourselves in, this is gonna be long.
So... Courtney Milan is making waves in the RWA, pushing for diversity and inclusiveness, calling out the Nice White Ladies (NWLs) who have been the backbone of the org for years in spite of their bigoted tendencies.
Tisdale/Davis/Grimshaw come under fire, and they don't take it well. Because how could they be racist, right? They don't hate people of colour! They're not card-carrying members of the KKK or neo-Nazis!

Why is the mean Chinese lady attacking us?!
They're the avatars of white women privileged fragility, and they represent a lot of the RWA. There's an undercurrent that's been flowing for a few years, because the NWLs' books don't sell as well (publishing is tough) and suddenly there's all these uppity coloured/queer peeps
Demanding a seat at the table. Being loud. Asking for these NWLs to recognise their romance as legit and worthy of the RWA. Wanting change.

Change is scary, ya know.
Anyway. The Mean Girls crew take umbrage at Milan, specifically, because they see her as the ringleader of the Twitter gang, siccing her goons on them when they're just trying to be reasonable and fair.

Narrator: oblivious to their own racism, unable to deal with criticism
Not a day after they catch shit for being racist, Tisdale files the ethics complaint. Davis follows up by Sept. 11.

The RWA Executive Committee gets it first. NOT the whole Board. So the President, President-Elect, Secretary, Treasurer.
And now wtf do they do? Milan's the Chairperson of the Ethics Committee.

They're well-meaning. I'm guessing all of them are white Americans. They want to be "fair".

Unconscious bias is deep and shitty thing when you don't do enough self-reflection.
They go overboard and ask Milan to resign, and she does.

Now they're asking themselves, what to do about the rest of the committee? Conflict of interest?

My guess is that they knew for a fact the regular committee would look at this shit and laugh them out of it.
But they have that feeling, that maybe Tisdale is right, and Milan is being a bully, because there's that unconscious racism creeping through their brains.

So they do some stupid shit.

First up: They need a new ethics committee.
The call goes out by email: volunteer for the ethics committee! We need more people! Look at the caseload!

Buuuuuullllshit. They need volunteers who weren't on the committee with Milan.

Who got that email? Members of the RWA. Who's in the RWA?
If you said Tisdale, Davis and all her little NWL friends, you win a prize.

If your first thought was: Tisdale's been talking to all her friends privately about finally doing something about the mean Twitter lady who's destroying innocent authors' careers, you win another prize.
Now... if you're a NWL who's afraid of change, and maybe afraid that the books you wrote in the 90s are going to be discovered and torn to shreds just like Davis, then maybe, just maybe, you'd volunteer.

Someone's got to do something about that mean Twitter lady.
Nothing serious, you understand. They just want her out of their club. They want her to shut up.

Let's continue.
October 5th rolls around and the RWA Board votes to change their policy so the Prez-Elect and the ED present a slate of new members for the Ethics committee.

The people in charge of deciding who gets to judge Milan = Damon Suede and Carol Ritter.
They also change policy so that the President can appoint a new chairperson of the Ethics committee if the current chairperson resigns.

So now they can replace Milan. This is all mostly okay, so far so standard, accepted without issue. Policy fix.
The Board are diverse, all good people. But I will bet money they didn't know about the complaints at this point.

By October 11th they have a list of volunteers for the new Ethics committee.
Suede and Ritter choose the new slate, which I would bet is heavily weighted towards NWLs, and it gets approved by the Board.

Jewel appoints a new chairperson.

Five new people from the new slate are chosen to judge the complaints against Milan.
Now, there isn't anything malicious here - or at least, they don't think they're being malicious. Racism is insidious stuff. They're just "being fair."
It doesn't take much for a bunch of probably NWLs to decide that Milan was being too loud, too angry, too MEAN and RUDE about racism. They're telling themselves, she might be right but the way she's going about it isn't okay.
Pretty sure all POCs know what that sounds like.

So they hand their report back to the Board.

Now, the Board hasn't seen the original complaints. They have the report, and Suede's answers to their questions.

Suede's got an ego. He wants to feel powerful.
He's already worked his way into a position of power. Then he makes himself the ethics committee liaison, which isn't a thing.

He probably answers in such a way to make this a bigger deal than it is, because it feeds his ego to do so.
So the Board bases its judgment on what it's got before it, and Milan is tried and convicted. Membership suspended, lifetime ban on leadership positions.

Milan gets the email with their decision right before Christmas because the timeline just played out like that.
Alyssa Cole drops the receipts and SHIT. GOES. DOWN.

And now the train is off the fucking rails and there is no stopping the wreck at the bottom of the ravine.
The Board swiftly realises that they've been had. They reverse their decision. A bunch of them resign.

Jewel realises she's screwed herself. She was involved in the execution of this disaster. She does the right thing and resigns.
Suede's got too much of an ego, so he's staying, plus he's got even more power and that's all gravy in his eyes.

The original Ethics committee are all like, fuck this, and a bunch of them resign as well.
But the worst thing is, because of Executive Discussion, they can't talk about what went down.

They KNOW shit went completely wrong, but legal liability means they have to stay silent.
Suede doesn't because, again, he's got an ego the size of Jupiter.
All this stuff about DSP, btw, is a side gig.

I mean, Suede's a dickhead and he's clearly not fit for any kind of leadership, but he's no evil mastermind.
When it comes right down to it, the RWA just got destroyed by the fact that it's got a lot of bigoted people who can't bear to be told that their shit stinks.

And they really, really don't like being told that by the queers and the blacks and the Asians etc.
So, long story short: whether the RWA survives this is going to come down to the same thing that nearly did in the SFWA.

They have to make it clear that this kind of racist white fragility is not acceptable.
That punching down isn't acceptable.

That owning your racism, your sexism, your homophobia, your bigotry, is fucking well required in order to be in this club.
That you don't get to be in the RWA unless you are humble in your acceptance of your faults and sincere in your desire to do better.
Once again: much of this is all speculation. Thinking out loud, done by someone who has no horse in this particular race, because I'm a filthy indie hobbyist writer of fantasy books.

So make of it what you will.
To all my friends in Romancelandia: maybe the RWA won't survive this, but you will. Because Romancelandia is yours, and you'll make it whatever you want it to be.

I know you'll make it something great.
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