Call for Dismissal of Racist Juror from Stoker Awards
April 14, 2016
UPDATE: The juror in question has been removed. Here is the HWA's announcement on Facebook from President Lisa Morton:
"In regards to the situation involving David Riley, who announced on his blog that he would be serving on the Anthology jury: We've reached out to Mr. Riley, and both Mr. Riley and the HWA have agreed that it's in the best interest of all for him to step down. Mr. Riley will be replaced on the jury immediately by Nicole Cushing. The HWA thanks Nicole for stepping up, and we would also like to thank everyone who has shared their opinion on this matter."
Here is my response:
I am proud of the HWA for coming to this decision and for demonstrating the desire to move towards inclusion. Lisa Morton, thank you for taking the brunt of this and Nicole Cushing thank you for filling in. I believe that the majority of those who spoke out against this particular juror, including myself, did so in support of the HWA. Hearing so many individuals voice their opinions is a great indicator of a healthy organization. This recent decision is a huge step in the right direction in moving us towards inclusion. I am eager to remain a member and work in a supportive capacity within the HWA as a volunteer to help ensure the growth our leadership is moving us towards. That said, I would like to comment, from one member's perspective, that I think it would go a long way towards promoting this inclusiveness if a public statement were issued saying, in no vague terms, that the HWA does not tolerate racism in any form and will actively seek to distance itself from individuals or organizations that espouse such intolerance.
Dear HWA Leadership,
Racial intolerance and discrimination in any form cannot stand. Allowing free speech is different than holding a member with racist views accountable for these views. Because of this, I join with others in calling for the dismissal of David A. Riley from the HWA’s Stoker Awards jury.
I am a new member to the HWA, having joined at the Active Status this year after publishing my first book with Random House/Hydra. I was thrilled to be able to participate in an institution that had recognized and honored so many authors who had inspired my own writing. When my novel was included on the long list for the First Novel Category I was, understandably, over the moon. I did believe and still do, that while flawed, the Stoker Awards hold great potential in recognizing deserving voices in horror (and here I do not speak of my own, but of many, many others).
Horror as it stands is not an inclusive genre. To deny this is ridiculous. This does not mean that there are not successful exceptions to the rule, but it does mean that as it stands white males and patriarchal voices dominate the sales and distribution of horror literature. And there are many, many positive voices that come from these very people. BUT having only one voice dominate the currency of any institution, literature, or people can never and has never resulted in the strongest possible iteration of any of these.
I spoke out about this inclusion problem when this years Stoker Awards Final Ballot came out and the majority of names (over seventy percent) were male. The representation of other races, cultures, and members of the LGBTQ community was even more sadly lacking. HOWEVER, to say that this institutional problem rampant in all walks of the publishing world was entirely the fault of the HWA would be ludicrous. Rather than blaming the organization I joined others, including current president, Lisa Morton, whom I greatly respect, in calling for change. With the public discussion of this issue and an admittance of the problem, as well as the formation of the Diversity Committee for the HWA, I believed that change was being made, and I wanted to be a part of that change. I still do. I volunteered to help in an official capacity and was excited to do so, with the understanding that I would be actively seeking new voices to represent and/or be recognized for the work already done but deemed something other than “horror.”
Many wonderful people work for and are members of the HWA. I truly believe that most of these people want to make a change in the direction of inclusion. And right now, they are being given that chance. To allow a man whose racist views have been and continue to be publicly documented a position of power in an institution where we are actively seeking the inclusion of the very voices he disparages, must not be allowed.
I will not list the various multitudes of racist remarks made by David Riley or name his alleged affiliations with white supremacist groups; one can quickly google them to find out their merit. But let it be said that the man has not to this date publicly apologized or admitted wrong-doing. Claiming that he is not a racist does not make this so.
I ask that the HWA and its leadership—whom I believe to be good, honest people actively seeking to make a change—prove that their stated desire for inclusion is true by issuing a public apology and calling for David Riley’s dismissal from the Stoker Awards jury.
If this is not done, I can no longer stand as a member of this group and will withdraw all my affiliations.