Annenberg School for Communication professor Carlin Romano will keep his seat on the board of the National Books Critics Circle after narrowly surviving a vote to remove him.
Romano previously came under fire in July for disagreeing with part of the NBCC’s statement in support of Black Lives Matter. He objected to a claim in group's statement that “white gatekeeping stifles Black voices at every level of [the publishing] industry.” In August, the NBCC called a meeting to vote on whether Romano should be allowed to maintain his seat on the Board.
Removal from the NBCC Board requires a two-thirds majority of those voting, or about one-third of the group’s members, The College Fix reported. 62 percent of voters supported his removal, allowing Romano to remain.
Romano’s disagreement with parts of the statement led to social media backlash throughout the publishing community, including a Twitter thread from poet and former Board member Hope Wabuke. Philadelphia-based writer Emma Eisenberg started a petition to Annenberg Dean John L. Jackson Jr. aiming to bar Romano from teaching courses at Penn. The petition gained 245 signatures.
In the petition, Eisenberg wrote that Romano’s “views on race and responsibility are severely damaging to the young people he might encounter [at Penn], particularly black students and other students of color.”
Though a recent Vulture article printed that Romano “threatened to sue each member of the Board individually” once Romano learned of efforts to remove him, he denies this claim.
“I have never threatened to sue individual NBCC members. I briefly threatened to sue fellow Board members early in the fracas when they briefly threatened to remove me from the Board themselves, in violation of NBCC bylaws,” Romano wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian.
“When they read the bylaws a few days later and admitted that I was correct, that only a specially called meeting of NBCC regular members could remove me, they immediately dropped that threat and I immediately dropped my legal warning," he wrote.
Romano has not faced action by the University prompting his removal as a professor. Though he remains on the Board of the NBCC, the Board's incoming president told members that Romano is on “notice pending adoption of a new code of conduct," The College Fix reported.
Romano wrote in a statement to The Daily Pennsylvanian that he will stay on the Board because the NBCC’s “genuine critics” understand that disagreement with a colleague does not constitute grounds to “cancel” them.
“We plainly face a big problem when so many of our young 'book people' members can't listen to anyone who disagrees with them without thinking, `Enemy! Villain! Destroy!,” Romano wrote. “We've got a lot of internal work to do to restore the National Book Critics Circle to being worthy of the third word in its name.”
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