Elizabeth: The RITA© Diversity Problem

Last week the list of finalists came out for this year’s Romance Writers of America RITA and Golden Heart contests.  There was much happiness by those who saw their names on the lists, but there was also an obvious, elephant-in-the-room issue out there that couldn’t be ignored.

For all of the talk and focus in recent years on diversity, there was a distinct lack of it represented on the lists of finalists.

The topic of diversity was front and center at last year’s RWA conference, with a number of the RITA and Golden Heart award winners specifically commenting on the lack of diverse-author representation in their categories.  That same conference also included a Diversity Summit attended industry professionals, RWA staff/Board members, members of RWA’s Diversity Committee, and other leaders within the organization who represent marginalized populations.  According to the RWA website, the purpose was to “share ideas, identify roadblocks, and reaffirm a commitment to fostering a romance genre that represents the wide array of authors and readers that love it.”

And yet . . . it doesn’t feel like much progress has been made yet. Continue reading

Elizabeth: 2018 Diversity Results

I had a different topic that I was going to post on today, but then I saw the latest survey results from the Ripped Bodice bookstore on the state of diversity in romance publishing and I got derailed.

For the past several years there has been an increased emphasis on diversity in romance fiction at writing conferences, on writing blogs (we had a series of posts on it last year), and in the mainstream media.  The issue was even brought front and center by several of the awardees at the most recent RWA conference I attended. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Spotlight on Diversity

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage month in the United States – commemorating both Japanese immigration and the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad – as well as Jewish American Heritage month – recognizing diverse Jewish contributions to American culture.  The month also includes the celebration of Cinco de Mayo – though I’m guessing a fair number of folks are a little hazy about what they’re actually celebrating there – and even a World Day for Cultural Diversity.    All of which made me think that maybe this would be a good time to talk a little about diversity in romance writing/publishing.

First, let’s start with some numbers.

It’s probably no surprise to anyone that, according to recent demographics posted over on the Romance Writers of America website, 82% of romance readers are female, or that 73% are white/Caucasian, but it may be more surprising to realize that 27% of readers are people of color (PoC).

Think about the books you’ve read recently.  Were 27% of the characters PoC?  How about the authors?  What about the individuals featured on the book covers? Continue reading