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The concept of is not new and you have seen many iterations over the past 50 years. But especially in this decade the Prestigious Space for women and mothers ̵
Because of this, many of these “ports” are facing a moment of reckoning amid the Black Lives Matter movement. From (and his) to Facebook, groups have been exposed as sources of white defenses and racism, from censorship to tokenism to silence among their many problems. In the centenary of women’s suffrage, the eradication of black and colored women continues to extend to communities that should uplift all women.
But it’s not all bad news. Some areas have not only avoided bad press: they have built diversity and inclusion into their framework and are now actively involved in the hard work of coming together to respond to systemic racism with an intersectional approach.
One of these areas originally opened in May 2018 as an incubator with investment support from Original Janes, including comedian Tig Notaro, and actors Casey Wilson, Joanna Garcia, Kelis and Kulap Vilaysack. The majority of the Original Janes were first-time investors and women of color. The founders designed the club as a “matriarchal oasis”: womxn (defined as anyone who identifies as one) and their allies, including men, could have access to the room. Members’ children would be cared for so they can learn, connect, and practice self-care as they return to work.
The founders found they met an important need when the Jane Club grew out of the incubator room in about six months without advertising, which could house 80 Janes and about 20 children full-time. The LA flagship opened in March 2019, just in time for Coronavirus to end personal contact for the foreseeable future. As a result, the club quickly followed the live online program “The Connected Jane”, which includes book clubs and teach-ins, on Race, Gender and Justice, Workouts, Classes and Zoom Cocktail Parties
Personal membership starts at $ 300 per month when the Jane Club reopens. Membership includes spa resources (mani / pedi / blowouts), daycare, workouts, meditation, meals, events, and courses.
“We were very clear that we … wanted to be a space of justice and inclusion and bring everything together in a meaningful way.”
How exactly did you avoid the pitfalls? How do you build an inclusive, dynamic community without sacrificing your commitment to racial justice or marginalizing people, while still running a successful business?
Establishing responsibility structures
Neelamjit Dhaliwal, the club’s Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer, is a former math educator, national SEED project leader and managing partner for her family’s company. “When the Jane Club first opened, I was in a position in my life that I couldn’t afford to be a member of, but I needed a place that was offered to me immediately. In return, I brought DEI with me [diversity, equity, and inclusion] Programming, ”she says.
In LA, Dhaliwal met the club’s co-founder June Diane Raphael Grace and Frankie and The high grade, Co-author of Represent: The Guide for Women to Run for Office and Change the World, Activist in the fight against the climate crisis and mother of two children.
The work and structure of feminists in action draws inspiration from Black Lives Matter by highlighting and empowering caretakers. These women may be looking after children, parents or friends, and many of them are unpaid. Feminists in action encourage caretakers to participate and lead. This inspired the Jane Club – the first organization Dhaliwal worked with empowering a DEI role to initiate functional changes.
Dhaliwal, who joined the club in November 2019, was implemented in May 2020. Among other things: Seeking justice, learning at the center, practicing consent and taking confidentiality into account (“What is said here stays here … what is learned here stays here”). Every Jane has to acknowledge her before she becomes a member.
DEI offers have a strong justice element, with various guests and workshops with important questions about privileges, the dismantling of white supremacy and the joy of judicial work. A weekly email titled “Jane Curation” provides resources, perspective, and inspiration to continue the practice.
Accountability extends upwards. The DEI work could have been built into the foundation, says Raphael, “but when I look back, I also see mistakes we made in this area and I wish we could have invested more from the start. I certainly don’t feel like this job is done or that it was done well enough. A part of the foundation that I’m very proud of constantly questions this. “
She adds, “Our first fundraiser focused on women from color investors. But when I look back on the early interest in The Jane Club (from clients), we were still predominantly drawn to white women. While racial identity work and racial justice education have always been part of our programming, I wish we had reached and marketed BIPOC women more specifically. I wish we would set the goals for diversity and equity. “
The work doesn’t end with adult members either. Chief Kid Officer Chudney Ross (daughter of Diana, owner of the Books and Cookies bookstore / enrichment center, former elementary school teacher and mother of two) was hired by a co-founder of the club to build The Nest, which was previously a personal childcare facility and now video programming for young children.
“When creating The Nest, it was very clear to us that we wanted a diverse collection of books and toys to create a space of justice and inclusion and to bring everything together in a meaningful way that is suitable for very young children,” says Horse.
Discuss, reflect, learn, practice
Racial affinity work at the Jane Club began in September 2019 – particularly in affinity groups where people with a common background come together to speak openly and find support. There is currently a black racial affinity room, a white anti-racist racial affinity room, and a non-black color space. To date, the groups have met and are currently running multiple times, and they include digital messaging areas as well. The aim is to collect and reflect on existing racial segregations in order to then tackle systemic racism in multiracial spaces – in other words, one does not stay in one’s affinity space, but uses the lessons from the world.
“There is a kind of good-bad binary, a sense of perfectionism and a fear that we will do something wrong when we talk about racism. The way that white supremacy works doesn’t give us the skills to be effective in these conversations. So they will be messy. Building that capacity is critical – I describe it as racial endurance, ”explains Dhaliwal.
“It is impossible to have a space in which no damage can occur in the system we are in right now. How are we going to show up? How will we look to justice when harm is caused? We focus on making sure our members have the space to demand the justice they need. “
Raphael, who is part of the white affinity space, says work changed life. “… to have this work available in a separate room, in which you can express your fears, questions, fears and do no harm to people with color, is incredibly important … The work accompanied me through so many more hours the day.”
The affinity groups are still small, so “sometimes it can be a challenge that we can’t really have deeper and broader conversations about racial justice in cross-racial dialogue without working in racial affinity spaces,” says Dhaliwal. “Without these spaces, there is sometimes a voice the Voice.”
Still, she adds, they are still critical. “For many people of color, there is a paralysis of racial trauma that can be examined in terms of racial affinity. It’s about opening it up, naming it, and healing it as best you can, then providing the tools to say, “The thing that happened to you wasn’t right. It’s not your fault.’ To then deliberately name it so that when they are in predominantly white rooms, which is a common occurrence, they can center their healing and not the comfort of white people. “
There has been increased interest in helping black-owned businesses and diversifying their children’s libraries and toys. “All of this is very important, and we hope our programming supports and complements this,” says Ross. “We choose different books to read and share in the activities we offer to stimulate thought.” and conversations that can then be shared at home. “
“The work of justice takes time. It takes resources. It takes focus. “
Look forward to further possibilities
The recent large-scale activism on social and racial justice – Dhaliwal calls it “a moment within a movement” – must be accompanied by long-term systemic change. Other women’s clubs are also slowly developing. All-women spaces, including The Wing and The Inclusive, offer online programs. The wing recently introduced a code of conduct for members.
The Jane Club continues to grow. There are now more than 350 in 30 states, three different countries. Service has grown 425% since March.
Although one of the jobs was to work with other companies to build mini-jane clubs as corporate premises, her focus now is on building on the dynamics of their online community.
Raphael admits that appreciating Original Janes’ investment, paying employees a liveable wage and continuing to deliver justice and inclusion, rather than simply co-opting feminism / anti-racism in branding, is a “sensitive dance” is Raphael.
As Dhaliwal notes, “The work of justice takes time. It takes resources. It takes focus. “The Jane Club does all three.