Like many young activists of her generation, Johnetta Elzie got her first taste of resistance online — speaking out against the 2011 execution of Troy Davis to her then-small Twitter following.
“I was just determined to be a part of the change. I was determined to at least be able to say, ‘I tried,'” Elzie says.
Now a seasoned activist and Black Lives Matter leader with an audience of over 200,000 followers on Twitter, Elzie wants to give Americans opposed to the Trump administration’s policy agenda the tools they need to fight back.
Elzie co-created the Resistance Manual, a Wiki-style guide to pushing back against the Trump administration.
The guide, launched by Elzie and her colleagues in Campaign ZERO — Deray McKesson, Sam Sinyangwe, and Brittany Packnett — is broken down by policy area, detailing the Trump administration’s strategy for implementing the policy, the potential impact of the policy, vulnerabilities in the strategy, and ways anyone can take action to stop or slow it. Topics include the Affordable Care Act, mass incarceration, women’s rights/reproductive justice, and immigration, among others.
Pooling their knowledge, the Black Lives Matter veterans included a list of background reading, tips on how to spot fake news stories, and organizations working on the issues in play.
“We wanted to at least do our part to give people a closer look at the resources and the people that we know,” Elzie explains.
The manual is one of several efforts to organize opposition to Trump from the ground up in the wake of the election.
In December, four former Democratic congressional staffers published “Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda,” which includes advice for citizen organizing modeled on the Tea Party’s strategy from early in President Barack Obama’s term.
Meanwhile, the Women’s March on Washington, which started as two unrelated Facebook posts by first-time activists, has grown into a global movement, with thousands expected to demonstrate in over 600 cities around the world.
Elzie hopes the guide will serve as a resource for people who are new to activism and are unsure how to best target their attention and effort.
“I’m thinking about the people who have never really felt inclined to speak up or speak out about certain topics, and they need a first step,” she said.
Veteran organizers, she explained, could also benefit from having a centralized repository of knowledge to support their efforts. Under a Trump administration, Elzie plans to continue mobilizing herself and others against police violence and helping young black girls thrive while protecting them from harm and discrimination.
Most crucially, the manual is open source, allowing both skilled and amateur activists to combine their expertise in one place.
The material is moderated and edited by the creators, but anyone with ideas, advice, or links to resources and organizations can submit them.
For Elzie, that democratic structure allowing anyone to contribute to the manual is one of its most crucial features.
“Everyone can participate,” she said. “That’s important. Because we need everyone, and we need everyone’s skills and talents in times like these.”