Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Romance Writer Group President Blames DEI, Pandemic for Bankruptcy

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Romance Writer Group President Blames DEI, Pandemic for Bankruptcy
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Romance Writer Group President Blames DEI, Pandemic for Bankruptcy

Source: Pinterest

The effect of the pandemic is still being felt as the President of a romance writers group has blamed the aftermath of COVID-19 and some other factors for the group’s bankruptcy.

Romance Writers of America 

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The Romance Writers of America is also a group of talented writers who majorly focus on writing romantic books, scripts, and films for the enjoyment of the general public.

The group used to have a good number of members, which increased steadily until the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Ever since there has been a huge decline in membership and many financial struggles that the President is attributing to DEI issues as well. 

Filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

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According to a report by the U.S. News, the Romance Writers of America (RWA) has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy from its headquarters in Houston, Texas.

This took place at the Texas Southern Bankruptcy Court. The group is also scheduled to attend a hearing on Friday, May 31st, by 9 a.m. with Judge Jeffrey Norman. This hearing will be done over the phone and seeks to get an emergency allowance to use their cash collateral. 

 

Is the Romance Writers of America a Non-Profit Group?

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The RWA has always been a non-profit group since it was founded back in 1980 by a group of talented writers. Therefore, the group’s mission is not to make a lot of money or profit. Instead, it aims to bring more public awareness to romance writing by helping professionals reach their peak through readily available help, advocacy, and networking.

RWA Owes Creditors and Hotels

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According to court documents, the RWA is in debt, owing its creditors about $74,500 and hotels almost $3 million. This huge sum is owed to some hotels, which threatens the group’s ability to continue operating. Since the RWA hosts its conferences and events at hotels, the group has been unable to pay for many of these events due to low income. 

ALSO READ: Trump’s Comments About Civil War Sparks Backlash From Civil Rights Group

 

The RWA’s Plan

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Now, the RWA has filed for bankruptcy, hoping to get the court’s approval for a new plan. This plan spans over three years, and it is expected to allow the group to reconstruct itself and pay off the debts that it owes people. Therefore, any income from the RWA over the next couple of years will be used to pay off the debts that the group owes. 

A Huge Decrease in Membership

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The major reason for the group’s income drop is the huge decline in membership. In 2019, the RWA had about 10,000 members. However, there were only 2,000 members left in 2024. This huge decline has been attributed to several factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, which reduced in-person activities, and the constant DEI issues among the group’s members. 

 

President Blames DEI 

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However, the President of the RWA, Mary Ann Jock, cited Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) as the major cause of the group’s decline. She noted in the court filings that the group lost about 7,000 members due to DEI-related issues among its members. For the remaining 1,000 people, she believes that these losses were facilitated by the pandemic and the restrictions they all had to follow. 

POLL—Should Public Schools Include Critical Race Theory and Sex Education in Their Curriculum?

Critics and Former Members Complain

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Many critics and former members of the RWA have given a lot of backlash to the group after hearing that DEI was cited as the major reason for its failure. A romance blogger and former member of the group SB Sarah said that she found it appalling that the group’s President would mention DEI as the main reason for the group’s failure. She went further, saying that it was total “horsesh*t” and unfair to those who were discriminated against. 

 

Lack of Inclusivity

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Another former board member of the group, Courtney Milan, has spoken on the matter, blaming the RWA for its steady decline. As a former advocate who tried to make the group more inclusive, she noted that the group’s lack of inclusivity was caused by its leaders. Therefore, it was not surprising to her that a group that wasn’t concerned about DEI went down the drain.

ALSO READ: Experts Explain Why Schools Are Rapidly Abandoning DEI Initiatives

Several Disagreements

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There were several instances where disagreements related to DEI came into play for the group. In 2019, some of the top members were accused of racism because the group never gave one of its famous “RITA” awards to a black author until that year. Some white authors in the group also filed a high-profile ethics complaint against Milan, claiming that she was participating in cyberbullying. 

 

The Population of Whites Vs. People of Color

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Critics have also highlighted the high level of disproportionate membership in the RWA compared to the general population of America. In 2018, 80% of its members were White, while the general population in the country was 61%. Therefore, the RWA board members made a promise to deliberately increase diversity in its award winners and leadership body. However, this was not successfully achieved. 

Romance Genre Sees a Surge

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The situation at RWA is quite unfortunate as it comes at a time when romance books, bookstores, and writing are in high demand. According to a report by The Guardian in February, romance is becoming a growing trend in the country. Bookstores are seeing high surges, and people are crossing state borders just to get their hands on romance books. 

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