Recently, on June 1, 2020, we reported that Julie Lea, the Captain of Krewe of Nyx issued an apology letter in response to the Krewe’s tone-deaf Instagram post that read “All Lives Matter.” Despite the apology, after meeting with the Captain, approximately 1000 Krewe members resigned in addition to the thousand that did not renew after the parade according to estimates, stating the apology was not good enough. In a letter Big Easy Magazine obtained yesterday addressed to the Captain from several fellow Krewe members, the members pointed out some derisive and insulting statements that were made by the Captain during a meeting on June 3rd.
A copy of the letter addressed to the Captain of the Krewe of Nyx is below:
Attn: Julie Lea, Captain- Krewe of Nyx
As a follow up to the float Lieutenant meeting, and as a collective, we wanted the opportunity to share our thoughts and concerns with you directly. The recent social media post with the #AllLivesMatter caption was insensitive, derisive, and offensive to a large majority of our constituency. While we recognize that an apology was given, it has been expressed by our riders, the public, and the Lieutenants as lacking a tone of apology and lacks acknowledging that Black Lives Matter. Our black and brown sisters deserve an acknowledgement that their lives, the lives of their sons, uncles, brothers, fathers, and other family members matter. Without this acknowledgement and a commitment to change the culture, the Mystic Krewe of Nyx will continue to be seen as a predominately white organization lacking diversity and inclusion.
During the Lieutenant meeting on June 3, 2020 the answers to several of the questions were additionally concerning. First, the statement “I’m not going to put a black member on the Board just because they’re black” is concerning on several levels. The Krewe of Nyx markets itself as an organization committed to diversity and inclusion, however the Board of Directors consists of all white women and your statement clearly indicates that there are no plans to include a person of color on the board. More concerning, if you’re committed to change, how would the voice of a person of color be brought forward to make changes to the organization? Additionally stating “We’ve had black women on the Board before and they didn’t last long” indicates that women of color are inferior to the white women currently serving on the Board.
When discussing the departure of our beloved riders and Lieutenants, the tone of conversation indicated that the crisis our organization is facing would blow over and was not concerning. The statement that “only 5% of the membership is leaving” minimizes the concerns that have been expressed by our black and brown sisters. The reality is that far more than 5% are leaving the organization; when the renewal list was reviewed it was noted that over 1000 riders did not renew, representing nearly a third of last year’s riders. Further, since the post on Sunday May 31st, nearly every Lieutenant has witnessed one third to one half of her riders express that they were leaving the organization. Further the statement “this will let us weed people out” was offensive and insensitive in light of what the organization is currently facing. These comments again indicate a lack of genuine understanding and remorse regarding the statement made and the resulting fall-out.
Finally, many Lieutenants have expressed concern regarding the plan for the Krewe of Nyx to move forward. The plan, as outlined, includes sensitivity and diversity training for the Board, Lieutenants, and subsequently the members who choose to participate. While education is truly important and will help our sisters further understand race relations in the United States, it is simply not enough. The Krewe of Nyx will need a change in the culture and leadership to truly be effective. While you have expressed that you will not be stepping down or stepping away to allow the organization to heal and move forward, we would ask you to reconsider that decision. Should you remain as Captain, it will signal to the riders and public that you are indifferent to their outrage, which is rightful in expression. It will further signal to the Lieutenants that you are indifferent to their safety, as it is well documented that the community plans to boycott or protest the parade and intend to throw items at the riders.
After much thought and careful consideration, the Lieutenants copied on this letter are submitting their resignation, effective immediately. This has been a painful decision for each of us individually, but we are collectively sad that we must leave our riders and a sisterhood that we loved. The events of the last 7 days have indicated to us that we are not respected enough to be included in communication or action planning, and that there is an unwillingness by you, our Captain, to truly change the organization’s culture. We are further requesting a full refund of all dues paid. We also ask that that you refrain from communicating or disseminating in any manner, false or erroneous claims that may result in the defamation of character in any undersigned individual, business entity, or governmental agency associated with any of the undersigned individuals. We wish the organization best as we move forward and hope that there is truly healing for the sisters who remain.
Kelly Gilkey LeBlanc
Heather Green Matrana
Cc: Lori Rodrigue Seuzeneau