Monday, March 25, 2019

RITAs and Golden Hearts

I end up wary of some online discussion of RWA's RITAs and Golden Hearts, partly because so much of it cycles through people who don' know how the awards work, and folks, who suggest fixes that are either impractical or equally problematic.  I am sending a letter to the board with a list of suggestions.  I do believe the board wants to fix this.  I also believe that aircraft carrier sized organization or not, change needs to come swiftly.  
But, I also understand that having some of this discussion visible and transparent will help us move forward.  
It is still an honor to be nominated even in a flawed process.  I am still thrilled for the books I loved (or will love, since I haven't read them all) that are on this list. 
Any other organization that produced a list that focused this heavily on white, straight, characters and purported to represent the body of work in romance for 2018, I would yell about it's failure to represent the true breadth of the genre. 
Race is not the only underrepresented group in the RITAs.  My hope is that the changes we make to fix this, will also lift up other authors and characters we are failing to support. 
The Ripped Bodice's State of Diversity in Romance Publishing report relies somewhat on self-reporting and some educated guesswork, and focuses on traditional publishing.  Indie publishing obviously also includes both white authors and authors of color, and so it is not a full picture, but it is something we have numbers for.  Of the 2867 romances published in 2018 by these publishers, overall it averages out to about 6% of these books being by authors of color, which is about 176 books.  
The RITA is capped at 2000 entries.  There are obviously way more than 2000 romances published every year, so there is no way for it to fully capture everything, but that doesn't mean this current process couldn't be fixed to do a better job of representing the genre and the membership.  
This year there are about 3 authors of color nominated.  (The about is because yeah, not every author puts their data out there.  We could have a conversation about why they would need to hide their ethnicity.)
Based on my back of the envelope math, 6% of the 80 finalists, would be 5.  So, we're super close, right folks?  No.  Because we know that authors of color are represented at higher percentages in self-publishing.  (In fact two of the nominated authors of color are self published.) There isn't really a good way to calculate what percentage, to say nothing of how many of these folks participate in RWA.  Any way to try to arrive at these numbers is flawed. I could give you US demographic statistics, but I know there are Canadian, British, South African, and Australian members, to name a few places. 
There is no way to argue that this is just happenstance. The numbers should consistently not be lower than average for all authors of color. If I include Lifetime Achievement awards, the number of winners of color is incredibly low, even when I count folks that won twice, I still barely break double digits.  (Bronwen crunched the numbers of non-Lifetime Achievement awards. And is working to expand it further.)
So, the process as is currently exists, rewards authors of color at about the same rate that traditional publishing does.  The Ripped Bodice said fairly explicitly, that their hope with producing the report was for it to essentially track improvement.  Instead they have seen little to no shift in the overall numbers.  So the RITA's reflecting that means we are reflecting other flawed, systemically biased systems.  

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Three Interesting Things

1. The audio ad I heard on a bus recently surprised me, apparently it's a thing now
2. This op ed about New Zealand's response to the attacks was lovely. 
3. This piece looks at how infrastructure changes focused on cyclists, ultimately benefit the whole community. 

Monday, March 18, 2019

Dog Watching

I am on the Internet enough that I knew about Blair Braverman. Dog pictures make it far and wide, as do dog stories. I have mixed feelings about sports that reply on animals, even dogs who always seem happy. But I admire (from my couch) people who wish to undertake long endurance tasks. And I usually tune into the last hour or so and move on. 
And then I subscribed to the Iditapod and well, learned a lot of things. Always fascinated by the people that keep going for the honor of 30th place. It is easy to remember that fastest is just one metric. Past winners this year came in in the double digits or had to scratch all together. One team crossed the line only to have the finish discounted when a dog fell ill and died. 
Stories floated about teams where the lead dogs quit wanting to lead and no dog stepping into the gap, so everyone was happy but unfocused. A team that got so worried about the human while crossing the river that they kept trying to turn back to the closest shore. Teams traditionally plan to drop dogs along the way, either illness, or team dynamics, or other issues.  Such that there's an extensive process for having folks along the route ready to help care for non-racing dogs. 
And of course like lots of project teams we have all been on they all started the same day and at the same time and they all had different experiences. Timing of rests and regroups affected everything from stamina to where you were when the snow hit. One racer was able to lend his sled after he scratched to a team that had been patching the sled together. 
Much like reality show teams, much of what filters out to the public is snippets, and of course one-sided since we never get the dogs' perspective. Fans helped schools fundraise while waiting. 
The last two teams are still out there, as I write this.  But the 2019 Iditarod has turned out to be an interesting experience to witness through the internet. 
 

Friday, March 15, 2019

I Remain Mad

I am mad that New Zealand and Brazil both experienced mass shootings this week. 
I am mad that toxic masculinity, anti-Muslim hatred, and a couple of other from the mixed bag of bigotry led to death again. 
I am mad that mass shootings are frequent enough that commenting on each one seems like a lot of work. 
I'm mad when I think how the NRA worked against DC statehood, because they were worried that giving DC residents the full enfranchisement most other American citizens enjoy might lead to less guns. 
I mad that once again a place of worship was shown to not be a safe space. I mad that I can already point you to other times I have talked about this
I mad because I am reminded that my friend who was murdered at work had taken active shooter training at her church. (She is credited with creating a distraction that saved several of her co-workers lives.)
We just hit the ten year anniversary of Geneva County shooting
We just hit the anniversary of the Dunblane shooting
You know what the UK did after Dunblane? They passed even stricter gun laws. I hope New Zealanders and Brazilians feel empowered to take the steps to keep their fellow citizens safe. 
I wish I had any hope that enough of the US government cared about safety more than they cared about gun manufacturing money. 
I am so sorry. The speed of news travel means we can all join together more quickly in triumph and in tragedy. 
I will continue to not just be mad, but to fight to change what I can in my own disenfranchised city. 
I am so sorry more people are learning the pain of having loved ones ripped away in such tragedy. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Three Interesting Things

1. The House voted in support of DC statehood. Which is a step forward.
2. I get why women footballers think a WNFL is the best best to league success, I just wish, well, I still have mixed feeling about the NFL despite their recent settlements with players they mistreated.  But women footballers are a thing I am interested in, so I wish the local team (who has a much better name than their male counerpart) success. 
3. It had not occurred to me that brie butter could be a thing, and now I need some immediately.