The Movement for Black Lives, the social movement associated with the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, harnessed the power of social media -- especially Twitter -- to become one of the most important social movements of the 21st century. But while Twitter can be an excellent tool for sharing and disseminating information in real time, the fleeting nature of the platform makes it difficult to build a knowledge base that members of the movement can learn from and build on. That's why activists from Stay Woke, including high-profile leaders DeRay Mckesson and Brittany Packnett, have launched a wiki-based "Resistance Manual" just days before the Trump administration assumes power.
"Twitter has been the infrastructure for the Movement for Black Lives," Stay Woke co-founder and Resistance Manual co-creator Samuel Sinyangwe told International Business Times Wednesday. "What it hasn't done effectively is preserve the knowledge base outside of the immediacy of the moment...the Resistance Manual promotes crowd sourcing mentality and collaboration at scale, but does it in a way that saves the content and allows you to dive deeper and really become informed."
The Resistance Manual, which went live Tuesday, is envisioned as a constantly updated clearing house for those opposing the Trump administration. Anyone accustomed to navigating Wikipedia will immediately find themselves at home on the site, which, like Wikipedia, can be edited by anyone. On Wednesday, over 400 pieces of content had already been uploaded to the site, Sinyangwe said, and that's after heavy traffic monentarily took down the site Tuesday. The site can be navigated by topic or location, and has a widget that allows a user to enter a zip code and immediately receive links to their local officials.
The site provides other tools for activists, including policy positions and arguments, organizing strategies, links to national and local organizations, as well as links to web development and data tools. Under each issue ("Mass Incarceration," "Housing and Infrastructure," and "LGBTQ Equality," for example) there are sections called "Vulnerabilities in Their Strategy" and "How You Can Resist." On the "Obamacare / ACA" page, the manual notes a vulnerability in the Trump effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act is that only three Republican senators would need to vote against a repeal to defeat it. In the section on resistance, the site gives several options for contacting senators and provides a portal for contacting state legislators to insist on "state- or city-based healthcare exchanges."
Stay Woke envisions a sort of living document containing both a centralized database of information and a network of hyper-localized sites that allow activists to know exactly what is happening in their area and easily coordinate messaging and strategy.
"What you'll see is that you have people who many not work for an advocacy organization but are just submitting incredible content about their area," Singyangwe said. "That's the type of leadership development we want to foster."
The Stay Woke members cut their teeth on working on criminal justice issues, and most are inextricably linked to Black Lives Matter in both the public imagination and Google algorithms. The Trump administration requires a broad based resistance, Singyangwe said, which is why he wanted to get the Resistance Manual launched before the inauguration so it could be used by a broad coalition to oppose the president-elect's early policy roll out.
"I think the fact that 30 million people might lose their health insurance based on how well we organize in the coming months creates an urgency," Singyangwe said, referring to the potential impact of an Obamacare repeal (the Congressional Budget Office puts the number at 18 million). "We cannot only focus on one issue at a time."
The Resistance Manual is sure to be met with, well, resistance. While Wikipedia can be edited in real time, all comments on the Resistance Manual must be approved by administrators.
"We know Trump has an army of trolls and we don't want to be susceptible to that," Singyangwe said.