Today I made the decision to leave the holiday box set. I haven’t heard from them yet, but I hope they release me and my book. It would mean burning bridges but after seeing a Twitter storm erupt the last few days when Authors of Color (AOC) pointed out how a recently released box set by the same organizer featuring romances with Asian heroes written primarily by white women (with not a single Asian author in the set) hurt people of color (PoC) and fetishized the Asian male, the reaction from a few of the participating authors bothered me. While one author apologized and thanked them for making it a learning experience for her, the rest dug in their heels and admitted no wrongdoing. I commend them for standing up for what they believe but when they blamed the AOC who called them out for being mean and nasty, I thought, did they even hear a single word the AOC pointed out?
Their response made me uncomfortable being in their next box set/anthology as an AOC. I could stay because we’re this close to releasing it. But I also can’t, not after what I’ve seen. Not after finally realizing that as an AOC, I will always belong to a marginalized group of people whose voice doesn’t get heard as much as it should. And the fact that my main Liz Durano name focuses on stories that often touch on heavy topics like suicide, PTSD, and domestic abuse while slowly incorporating PoC like me, if I don’t take a stand for what I believe in now even if it means burning bridges, when will I?
So… that’s my Friday so far and it’s not even ten in my neck of the woods. At least, I’ve had my coffee so it isn’t really all that bad even if, as I write this, the circle of authors I network with has grown considerably smaller.
Edited to Add: I accidentally marked this as Draft while I was on my iPad so if you received the additional notification that it was published, I apologize. I do want to stress that my decision to leave the set had nothing to do with the argument posted by critics that “white authors” had no business writing about Asian heroes. My issue came from the way I viewed their reaction to the concerns by making the WOC, who brought the issue up, as villains. But what’s done is done and I have to move on and return to my books. One author said it all along in one of her well-known pieces of advice: it’s all about your books. Just write them.