By Hayley Crandall
The Milwaukee chapter of WGIRLS have started a book club — but it’s not your run-of-the-mill neighborhood club. It has a specific focus on social justice.
WGIRLS Milwaukee, an organization focused on empowering women and children from underserved communities, are hosting the Social Justice Book Club every month which is intended to educate and start conversations on world issues through the chosen readings.
“WGIRLS general mission is to empower women and children in underserved communities through fundraising, volunteer and outreach,” Alexandra Gregorski, Social Justice Book Club creator and volunteer said. “So, I knew through joining this organization that there would be a lot of people from WGIRLS that would want to join.”
The club also functions as a fundraiser for Milwaukee nonprofits. Currently, it is raising money for ACLU of Wisconsin.
Social Justice Book Club was born through the wanting to do something more, Gregorski explained. After seeing the news stories over these past few months, she believed reading was a good place to start. Gregorski planned to form the club with a local friend until she had the idea to bring it to the WGIRLS board.
“As things in the news started happening, I wanted to do something,” said Gregorski. “I felt like, how can I help? How can I contribute? How can I learn more?”
WGIRLS agreed it aligned with its mission and the book club held its first meeting at the end of July. It is hosted entirely over Zoom calls.
While the overarching theme is social justice, they do dive into more specific sub-topics through the chosen books. July, August and September center around anti-racism with reads like “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo.
Gregorski felt something like this was important to start with the community as it created an open-minded space for people to start their education journey, but Gregorski wouldn’t categorize it as a “safe space.”
“I see the goal as creating a space that people can come and learn and feel comfortable to make mistakes,” said Gregorski. “I don’t think a ‘safe space’ works in the context of anti-racism. You have to come willing to be called out in ways and feel uncomfortable in those big learning moments. This is an opportunity for people to both learn and make things better in the community.”
The fundraising is also an important aspect of this event, Gregorski said. The club members have found ACLU of Wisconsin’s mission of promoting and expanding constitutional rights fits greatly with their theme.
“We think they closely align with our general social justice mission,” said Gregorski. “We are open to changing it up, but we just think what the ACLU is doing right now is really important.”
Any non-WGIRLS members attending the book club are asked to donate $10.
They are also thinking about switching up the theme in October for a more inter-sectional feminist book, possibly covering domestic violence, Gregorski said.
While it is fully virtual right now, they have discussed moving it to a park, and holding it simultaneously virtual and in-person, Gregorski said.
The next book club will be held at 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 26. The group will be discussing “How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi. Information regarding accessing the Zoom meeting and link for donating can be found on the WGIRLS Milwaukee Facebook page.