Racist Romance Writer Smackdown

Posted in Library of Congress, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on December 2, 2021

In twitterland, there is a list of trending topics. The other day, the top trend was #IStandWithCourtney The trend topping #ISWC tweet: Jingle Elle Maruska (they/them) @ellle_em “#IStandWithCourtney Calling out racism is not being racist Pointing out someone’s unethical behavior is not being unethical I stand with Courtney because white feelings are in no way more important than fighting for marginalized people’s right to exist in any & all spaces” If you think you know where this is headed, you are probably correct. This is a repost from 2019.

Perez Hilton puts it all in a nutshell. “What’s it all about? It’s about racism, injustice, and of course erotic tales of ribald fantasy. Yep, it’s drama in the world of romance novelists! This month the Romance Writers of America suspended author Courtney Milan (presumably asking her to turn in her badge and her quill) over what they called a violation of their code of ethics.”

“So what had Milan, the author of such historical Harlequins as A Kiss For Midwinter … done to deserve this literary excommunication? Apparently fellow novelists Suzan Tisdale (Secrets of the Heart) and Kathryn Lynn Davis (Too Deep For Tears) filed a formal complaint over a twitter thread … in which Milan — a Chinese American author — called out one of Davis’ books for being racist.”

Smart Bitches Trashy Books, LLC has more on this bodice-ripping badass, with documentation galore. (Davis complaint, Tisdale complaint I, Tisdale complaint II) “… whether it’s a publishing house deciding that a contract with a white supremacist is a good idea, or a writer’s organization deciding that white supremacy is the right decision ethically … “

The twitter thread is can’t-miss reading. @courtneymilan read a sample of Somewhere lies the moon. There was a twitter reaction, that will live in infamy. @courtneymilan “And we’ve been talking about Sue Grimshaw? Someone sent me a link to a book written by the other editor, Kathryn Lynn Davis, and is a fucking racist mess.”

The Davis complaint notes that the Milan opinion is based on reading a sample of SLTM. By her own admission, @courtneymilan did not finish the sample, much less read the book. @courtneymilan “Here’s the book. I didn’t finish the sample. I didn’t need to.”

Racism smackdown fans are probably asking, what was so fucking racist messy about SLTM? The accuser is Chinese-American, as is the racially besmirched character. No forbidden words, beginning with N, were used. It is not that type of racism.

The damning nanoagressions are documented in a series of tweets. Here are a few. The part following a link is by @courtneymilan. Transcribed screen shots are identified as (SS). If you click on the link, you can see the entire screen shot. This might help you understand the situation better.

@courtneymilan “This book is like a bingo card of OH GOD DID YOU REALLY. Start out with the heroine, who is the obligatory blue-eyed half-Chinese woman.” (SS) “Lian was twenty-five, tall and lithe, with the thick black hair and bronze skin of the Chinese”@courtneymilan “I mean…. that doesn’t really happen. (Genevra is half-Indian and also blue-eyed.) But also… like. Of course. This is like such a standard racist trope. WHY.”

@courtneymilan “Here is our half-Chinese woman remembering her past, where she is explicitly told that the future is the West, and that for Chinese women, compliance is the rule. SIGH.” (SS)”I am a captive of my own history, but I have raised you to be free, to move forward toward the future – and the future is the West.” “I was no’ askin’ what your parents wanted, but what ye want for yourself” “It is not important. It is not a question I ask myself. In China Shun, compliance, is the rule for women”

@courtneymilan “Here she is, meeting another Chinese family in London. I’m gonna be honest: I don’t know how I feel about “bronze” as the “standard” for Chinese skin (prior tweets), but I *do* know how I feel about “yellow.” And about almond eyes.” (SS) “…their thick blue-black hair and bronze faces, turned slightly yellow by the London climate, were unmistakably Chinese, as were their slanted almond eyes” @courtneymilan “Note that this in Lian’s point of view. She was raised in China. She only describes the Chinese people by skin color/eye slant, not the white people. She’s literally describing absolutely normal people to her as if she were a white woman talking about a foreigner.”

@courtneymilan “Oh, I was searching for something else and found this: In China, women didn’t learn anything.” (SS) “In China, no woman was taught much more than cooking and sewing and the graceful art of pleasing her husband.”

Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.

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