Sunday, September 5, 2021

Censorship or Justice?

I normally use this space to tout the things I love about writing, romance and the world. But today I’m going to discuss something that I hate. I know, hate is for Hitler, but this subject has been rolling around in my head for weeks and today I realize that I truly do hate it. Full disclosure, I don’t know the whole story. I’ve read literally two articles about it and am very likely making some assumptions, but such is life. The writing life. Karen Witemeyer won the Vivian Award for best romance book "with religious or spiritual elements” for At Love's Command. But RWA took it back because some people found it offensive due to how the subject matter was handled in the book. For those that don’t know, the Vivian is the top award in the romance writing world. The book centered on a hero who was involved in the massacring of Native Americans and finds redemption through God. Sounds like a pretty basic plot for Christian romance but it upset some folks. For years marginalized people have been made to be plot devices and their stories have been used for the white Christian gaze. Quite frankly, they are sick of it. I get it. I don’t read books about slave owners/former slave owners. And I might be offended if one won the biggest award in the romance world. But the writer in me cringes at the idea that a book that has been identified as excellent, would lose out on an award simply because it offended people or because it was from the (possibly narrow) viewpoint of a certain group of folks. That feels wrong to me and like something that could lead to censorship, if not by the industry then certainly the author. Realistically, we don’t all have the same perspective on our country’s history. Realistically, the “winners” have been able to shape the narrative. Realistically, this has angered minority groups who finally have the power to push back. And certainly I don’t blame them. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t set right in my spirit to go down a slippery slope of determining whose story gets told and whose doesn’t simply because it could offend someone. Instead, I want the stories written by people of color to be read and feted alongside those written by white folks so that people can see our worlds from our point of views and acknowledge our greatness.