The Valkyries, an organization of women working in comic book shops, announced on Twitter this morning that the group will be disbanding. In the statement, provided below, the administrators say they believe the group is now actively doing harm by failing to meet its stated purpose and mission statement. The statement goes on to acknowledge where the organization has both succeeded and failed. Cited failures include the group’s treatment and response to people of color and folks from marginalized communities.

https://twitter.com/LCSValkyries/status/1037734035638902784

The Valkyries disbanding comes nearly a week after writer and comic book shop owner, Jazmine Joyner detailed her experiences as a person of color with the group whose administrators are white women. The article, published on the comics news website The MNT, highlighted an incident where Joyner’s expressed concern over how the group’s response to a white women’s harassment on social media overlooked and erased the experiences of women of color. Joyner states that her warnings were not heeded, and in one case, were co-opted by a white administrator.

I brought this up with one of the Valkyrie founders, the woman who recruited me. I told her how insensitive it was for them to blindly follow this hashtag without realizing that it erases the black women and women of color who get harassed in comics every day without a hashtag or a hoard of white women coming to their rescue. She seemed to understand, especially after I said that, as a black woman, The Valkyries didn’t seem to be a safe place for my voice. I told her that I might leave the group. She admitted to me that the Valkyries admin team was completely white and the group was predominately white as well. I saved my decision for the next day. I wanted a night to think about it. The next day I decided to leave. That same admin had taken our conversation and my grievance with the group and turned it into an article published on a large comic website. She was praised for writing about the exact concerns I brought to her. Jazmine Joyner, The MNT

The article, published on August 29, set off a dialogue on social media where others expressed their concerns regarding the organization and administration of The Valkyries. In the statement, The Valkyries administration cites as part of the reasoning for their failure to serve all communities, a lack of volunteers. This line, in particular, has been problematic for many as it appears to place blame on women of color for not stepping up to serve in a volunteer capacity. We will continue to update this story with any additional information as it becomes available.

13 COMMENTS

  1. This is the new dumbest thing I’ve ever read. I’m sure white women will be happy to hear they’re the new class of oppressors who need to be torn down and overthrown. By the way, how many WOC post around here?

    Mike

  2. Mike, respectfully disagree. Heard a criticism of The Handmaid’s Tale on TV the other day, that it was a white-woman’s nightmare scenario. Because indigenous-people’s women, and those descended from slavery, and structurally marginalised, continued to have their children taken from them, so they kind of live in The Handmaid’s Tale already. In the name of welfare, and right up to present day (much higher rates in indigenous communities here in Australia – and rates of incarceration, etc). Structural problems of disadvantage. There is a real difference.

  3. “Mike, respectfully disagree.”

    Disagree about what? I read the article. I read the article it linked to and the Twitter post to which it also linked. I still have no idea what specific, actual thing The Valkyries did wrong or…and this is kind of the most important point…WHAT IN THE WORLD THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO DO ABOUT IT.

    The only concrete allegation made is that when a WOC comic retailer posted on The Valkyrie site, she says she got a lot of criticism. She doesn’t offer up even one example of that criticism or define what was objectionable about it, other than she thought it was excessive. The only other detailed complaint is that a white woman’s story went viral in social media instead of a story from a WOC but without any coherent explanation of what’s wrong with that.

    And just to be perfectly clear, the complaint was not that white women were excluding or ignoring efforts of WOC to get their stories included in the milkshake stuff. Again, there’s not even a single example offered of that happening. The example that’s actually offered is of a white woman trying to raise the concerns of WOC and being criticized for trying to do so. The complaint is simply that white women were talking about a story involving a white woman. Period.

    Mike

  4. Disagree that it’s the dumbest thing ever, Mike. I don’t think of people as ‘oppressors’ or ‘white women’ as a solidified group that oppresses. But if someone does have a complaint – and just to my mind, they don’t need to disclose or make public their exact complaint just for my satisfaction (and I would have thought the group closing down was evidence of sensitivity and acceptance of the complainant’s grievance on a pretty big level). They can re-form, reassociate, with some level of change, in some way. I see nothing dumb here, and I think it was handled reasonably by the parties

  5. I’m not sure how blame is being placed on anyone here. If they do not have volunteers they do not have volunteers. That seems more of just stating a fact than anything else. Also, I am unable to access the MNT website. Did it get taken down because that seems suspicious to me.

  6. As this article is written, it is a nice cup of kambocha for a college-age Progressive person.
    But I believe the majority of this site’s readers are middle-aged white men. Even though my life history involves being raised Liberal/Progressive in the 70s and trying to live it in the 80s/90s, my 49.5 year old self finds this entire article vaguely ridiculous.
    I actually started to write a message to Jazmine Joyner asking her to join this comment thread, but the info in this article led me to believe that it is wrong of me to ask her to volunteer to enter a space were she will face criticism.
    I normally try to keep silent on my inability to understand the current tenets of L/P. Each generation’s task is to build on what the previous generations did, and history shows that the previous generations tend to become obstructive when progress supasses their imaginations. I don’t want to become an obstructionist so i normally bite my lip.
    But our local “Fascist’ (my term), MBunge, is sounding too reasonable to me here. I blame the article. The article does a good job of reporting statements and actions, but lacks something to put these statements and justifications in a greater context that makes them reasonable. People who are emotionally invested in the underlying issues referenced in this article may find the article to be all it needs to be, but outsiders (which I believe most of the followers of this site are) need more context. Without that context, comments like”A split in a left-wing organization? Quelle Surprise!” seem pretty appropriate.

  7. Yarg: I don’t know. I wish the article above had expounded on her comment about “a safe space for my voice”. I feel her comment is UNreasonable, but I believe that others could teach me how to consider it reasonable. Even if those other people don’t convince me, I will learn about other ways if thinking!

  8. Seth, I agree that the story is incomplete but I think enough is provided by the author to give the essential flavour of the issue. Jazmine Joyner seems to view everything through an identitarian lens and further seems to believe that her colour and position on the progressive stack gives her a shield behind which she can be as racist as she wants to be while crying “racist” against anyone who challenges her. The Valkyries on the other hand seem to be so shackled by the progressive stack that they completely fold like a house of cards when confronted by someone who they perceive to be higher than them on the stack. Both sides make me cringe tbh (and I would be dishonest if I said I didn’t chuckle a bit at the absurdity of it all).

    It caught my interest because alongside my job I’m a union rep and a union (or guild or however you want to term it) needs to be a broad church and endless splits hurt everyone. I have a number of ideological differences with my union but it doesn’t stop me from representing my colleagues to the best of my ability and this kind of identitarian ideological spat baffles me.

  9. Whelp, it’s interesting to see that The Valkyries were really just a reflection of Kate Leth’s particular brand of white feminism.

    The day Joyner’s article went viral (late august), Kate Leth left the group, to try and put as much distance as possible from how ugly this was about to become, because, hey! can’t handle criticism that your intersectionality is wanting!

    And the remaining admins, gutted by Kate Leth just leaving them to hang dry, did not even consider talking it the rest of the members of what to do with the group, like passing internal leadership to WoC or just including WoC in leadership. NOPE, their answer was to torch everything down because they can’t handle criticism.

  10. “White feminism affects every aspect of my life on the daily basis as a Black femme/woman in America….”

    A sure keynote for the moral extortion that follows. It speaks volumes about the so-called Valkyries that they folded under it.

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