There is a global conspiracy of elites drinking the blood of babies in order to curate magical powers, and Donald Trump is playing 5-D chess in a battle with these evil forces. Oh yeah, there are also thousands of children in captivity in tunnels under NYC among other places…
At least these are the core stories of the QAnon conspiracy theory melting the minds of hundreds of thousands of people both in and outside of the U.S., destroying families, swelling the ranks of the right-wing, and lending volume to the BIG LIE. Of course, this sprawling conspiracy theory leverages and builds on long standing anti-semitic and right-wing populist narratives.
ReFrame’s dynamic team of strategists, researchers and creatives are working closely with Women’s March to identify the most powerful networks and most salient stories in the QAnon universe. Our strategy makes way for disruptions in the QAnon network and narrows the soft on-ramp to deeper right-wing ideology and organizing.
Crystal Aryee, Bia Jackson and Ivie Osaghae of #TeamReFrame took a moment to discuss the importance of this work.
Crystal: Why is ReFrame working to interrupt QAnon’s ridiculous and laughable conspiracy theory?
Ivie: QAnon is not just a wacky idea secluded to the internet. It impacts the offline world with devastating consequences. Just take the January 6 attack on the Capitol as evidence. There is an enormous impact on Black, Brown and Indigenous communities - especially since the onset of Covid-19 when people are looking to break isolation and are in search of community. For over half a decade, QAnon has touched many parts of our political sphere and has shaped how we orient ourselves to rising fundamentalist ideology. It's important to be able to combat the rising right-wing tide that looks more innocuous than many would think.
Bia: Because of this harsh reality, we are working with Women’s March and engaging their base to create tailored interventions that can be used to inoculate families, communities, and institutions. Women’s March has built a network of tens of thousands of activists pushing back against the threat of disinformation from their base of women and feminists in suburban and rural settings. Our partnership allows us to leverage their base to combat the threat of QAnon.
At the 2022 Women’s Convention, we presented four workshops on narrative power building, disinformation, and narrative research our team did on QAnon and adjacent stories and messages. Each workshop welcomed over 100 people, some of whom shared stories of personal impact – people dealing with friends and family members who spread QAnon or Q-adjacent messaging. Since then, we’ve been training the Women’s March Digital Defenders group of 300 to create persuasive content and launch digital narrative campaigns on social media and other online platforms. We’ve also reached hundreds of thousands of people with compelling findings from the QAnon research, along with intervention and interruption recommendations, on platforms like TikTok and Instagram.
Crystal: You mentioned that QAnon touches many of our communities. Do you have a personal tie to QAnon and how have those experiences impacted your work?
Ivie: A member of my family, who is in the U.S. on an immigrant visa, came for a little bit to handle citizenship processing and ended up stuck here because of the pandemic. They spent a lot of 2020 on the internet and found a community of people adjacent to QAnon; they have since become full-blown believers. There are a lot of entry points, especially around homesteading and natural living, that lured this family member in impacting their decision to not get the Covid-19 vaccine. This means they can’t return home to be with their family and are forced to navigate the U.S. legal system.
QAnon is not just losing family or friends who may show up to something like the events of January 6 – it is also loved ones exposed to the idea that “darker things” are moving, controlling the world and government - echoes of centuries old anti-semitic narratives. What QAnon offers to people who are isolated and lonely is a connection to an insular community that offers answers – this primes people for recruitment into right-wing values and organizations. Our work of researching and identifying how our friends and family move down the rabbit hole is vital to being able to help others recognize when a loved one is being wooed by right-wing extremist messaging and what they can do about it.
Crystal: What are the biggest challenges and threats facing your research
Ivie: The biggest threat is the ever evolving nature of QAnon. As more people have gotten deplatformed from popular social networks, the places that these conspiracy theories and right-wing recruitment efforts show up start to get more concealed. Our research and strategy allows our team to find those people who have seeped into the crevices and continue to monitor the stories and messages they are spreading. It requires us to think creatively and seven steps ahead to diversify avenues for our research including things like message and content testing, polling, surveys and more.
Crystal: The research methodology used to track the QAnon network is quite advanced. Keeping in stride with this work along with training the field of organizers, what does the future of narrative power building look like?
Bia: The future is hopeful - with more organizations focusing on building narrative power at scale in tandem with organizing efforts - because they're not separate.
Ivie: Exactly. It also looks like meeting people where they consume content. We could have a presence in gaming spaces, on Youtube, and other avenues where people are taking in stories, entertainment, and information. Tik tok and the like make news stories more ubiquitous however, there is still a challenge of discerning what is useful, harmful, and newsworthy. So the future looks like a continuation of training up the next generation of strategists, communicators, and organizers who are shaping what the media looks like and seeding narratives of liberation, justice and healing for a more progressive minded future.
Crystal: The work of mapping out the QAnon network and developing interventions is undeniably a heavy burden. What brings you hope in this work?
Ivie: My hope and my sustaining energy comes from seeing my family and other people who have been impacted being able to resonate with our findings and find use in our intervention tactics. This work scratches my brain in the right way to keep me energized and refreshed and keep me on my toes about how we can continue to use our tactics, our strategies and our vision to move the needle, not just an inch but a considerable amount for a better future.
Bia: I find hope in the moments that I see my family members and my friends talking about, or having a hard conversation about a topic that I know has come up in the research quite a few times. Also, to see my nieces and nephews, who are super curious about the world, daring to be themselves. That piece deeply informs the work that we're doing because if we don't, that will be lost. And I think the other piece that really inspires me is the innovation around technology and folks telling their stories, and specifically, Black and Brown folks telling their stories in a new and re-energized way.
Be on the lookout for ReFrame’s QAnon narrative research findings and report - to be released in 2023.
more blog posts from reframe
Register for the ReFrame Fall Academy 2023: Where Narrative Power Meets Opportunity!
Register for ReFrame's 2023 Fall Academy – two experiences, one powerful narrative change journey!
Down the Rabbit Hole: Demystifying QAnon Narratives and Networks
Introducing Down the Rabbit Hole: Demystifying QAnon Narratives and Networks
Stephanie Gasca Por Siempre: Stories of Love and Resilience
An Ode to a Real One: Stephanie Gasca - Rest in Power
Trans Athletes: A Narrative Analysis
This Trans Day of Visibility, we’re releasing new narrative research on transgender athletes as one layer in this complex narrative contest. Find out more about who is driving the conversation and how critical narratives about fairness and safety shape the landscape.
"We Did It!" Not a Solo Founder Story
A founding story grounded in movement values and a collective vision.
Cha-Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes... A Note from ReFrame's Outgoing ED
Co-founding Executive Director, Joseph Phelan, on why he is leaving ReFrame and what's next.
CATALYZING RIPPLES: REFRAME’S 2023 NARRATIVE PREDICTIONS!
Catalyzing Ripples lays out the narrative themes, evolving story trends and emerging opportunities and risks that can serve as a guide in the year ahead.
Breaking Q! From Disinfo Distraction to Narrative Strategy
An interview with Ivie Osaghae and Bia Jackson of #TeamReFrame as they are immersed in our QAnon narrative research and deprogramming work in collaboration with Women’s March. The team explores QAnon as a big tent conspiracy theory and introduces research around how people are drawn into conspiratorial practices like QAnon or Q adjacent networks.
Time for the All-Stars! Meet ReFrame's Senior Cohort
Since 2015 when we launched the ReFrame Mentorship, we have been investing in leaders and organizations to build a durable, long-term narrative power infrastructure that along with organizing, can bend the arc of history towards justice. In line with this vision, we saw an opening that led us to the Senior Narrative Power Cohort.
Skilling Up to Build Narrative Power: Reflections on Narrative Power 101
Over 800 hundred organizers, creatives, and strategists joined ReFrame for Narrative Power 101 (in real-time and asynchronously!), to skill up and build narrative power to win.
Answering the Call - NPS '22 Reflections
Opening statements from ReFrame Executive Director, Joseph Phelan, and ReFrame Deputy Director, Hermelinda Cortés, along with photos from the 2022 Narrative Power Summit.
Register Now for Narrative Power 101 Training
Join ReFrame on October 25th for Narrative Power 101! This free virtual training reviews the fundamentals of narrative and disinformation while offering new approaches and practical steps for your everyday work.
Introducing the Narrative Power Summit!
This October 6-8, ReFrame and RadComms are bringing narrative power builders together for a hybrid summit in Long Beach, CA!
What is Safety Really? Organizing for a New Way
Jenny Lee and Damon Motz-Storey were in a six-month fellowship run by ReFrame in partnership with the Northwest Health Foundation. We took a few minutes to check-in on how they are doing.
Ukraine, Democracy and the Far Right
The TL;DR - How the meme of a Ukrainian granny with a gun hides a far right secret OR the fog of war is murky, beware of the far right OR, the fight for multi-racial democracy at home and abroad.
Collective Bargaining for Stronger Communities
As we grow the narrative power ecosystem we need to win we are taking moments to highlight the awesome strategists we get to work with. Luo was a participant in the ReFrame Summer Academy and we took a few minutes to check-in on how she is doing.
What the South Taught Me About Predicting Narratives
The God's honest work and lineage of organizing in the South taught me that understanding not just the political terrain but the narrative landscape is essential to building power. Our movements can contend for power at the level of ideas, beliefs, and values and set the narrative arena in which we organize.
The Promise of ReFrame
ReFrame’s Executive Director, Joseph Phelan, recounts his time as a communicator and organizer at Miami Workers Center as part of the inspiration for the vision and promise of ReFrame to build narrative power at scale. “I could see a future where we were touching these contacts with targeted messages and stories that overtime lead to a shift in worldview.”
Through The Looking Glass: 2022 Narrative Predictions
SAVE THE DATE: Through The Looking Glass - 2022 Narrative Predictions
Shifting the Culture of Crime and Punishment
As we grow the narrative power ecosystem we need to win we are taking moments to highlight the awesome strategists we get to work with. Talia Gad is a participant in the Northwest Health Foundation Fellowship and we took a few minutes to check-in on how she is doing.
ReFrame x NWHF Narrative Fellowship
ReFrame and Northwest Health teamed up to train leaders in community organizations in the Pacific Northwest to engage in narrative work to win.
THE RONA REPORT: THE ECONOMY, WORKERS & UNEMPLOYMENT
Exploring the narrative weather of Covid-19. The Rona Report is a project of ReFrame and Solea Signals. COVID time is confusing. It can feel like light speed and sloth slow all at once.
GOTV: Tools for Fighting Disinformation NOW & Beyond
Many who believe in justice are fighting hard for victories at the ballot box. However, our opponents are spreading disinformation that threaten the just future we are all working towards.
Threat Modeling & Swot Planning
At ReFrame, drawing from our experiences inside of other crisis moments, two of the tools we’ve been using to coordinate our team in the time of COVID-19 is individual and organizational threat modeling & SWOT planning.
A Movement Moment: Narrative in the Time of Corona
We are here with you. Our hearts and thoughts are with everyone who is struggling right now.
Creating an Ecosystem for Narrative Power
The political landscape is shifting by the week. What we need to stay above the current is what will allow us to build narrative power for the long-haul.
A Spectacular Start to the 2019 Reframe Program
The fifth class of the ReFrame Mentorship kicked off in May with a spectacular Opening Convening in Denver and Breckenridge, Colo.
5 Minutes With Power California’s Jung Hee Choi
Jung Hee Choi is a Senior Advisor and mentor for ReFrame and the Associate Director for Communications and Policy Strategies for Power California.
Introducing the 2019 Reframe Mentorship Cohort
At ReFrame, we envision national and international movements buoyed by hundreds of thousands of strategists who are collaborating to develop and advance deep narratives that bend the long arc of history toward justice.
Black Panther: The Movie About Blackness That Reflected Back Gold
First things first, if you have NOT yet seen Black Panther, stop reading right now and go watch it. Yes, RIGHT NOW. Then come back later and read this.
ReFrame Gives Me Hope (Video)
Some of the ReFrame mentors reflect on their mentees and the hope they have for the future.
It’s Humanizing (Video)
Shanelle Matthews, ReFrame mentor and Communications Director at Black Lives Matter Global Network, reflects on why learning and collaborative spaces like ReFrame are humanizing and powerful for oppressed communities.
Build The Story (Video)
Brandon Hill, who works with Cook Inlet Keeper, talks about why he applied for and participated in ReFrame.
We Have a Responsibility to Our Ancestors (Video)
Fresco Steez, who works with BYP100, talks about the importance of story and the responsibility of building power towards action to end oppression for all people.
Hope & Liberation (Video)
JaNaé Bates, who works with ISAIAH, talks about shifting narratives away from fear and towards hope and liberation.
ReFrame For Our Future (Video)
The ReFrame Mentorship is a six-month program that builds the next generation of strategic communicators in social justice, and supports organization to integrate communications as a core strategy.
Lessons From the Field: Fighting Trump’s Deportation Machine
Immigrant rights organizations like Juntos, a Latinx grassroots group in Philadelphia, have been mobilizing powerfully in the months since Donald Trump took office. For Miguel Andrade, the communications manager at Juntos and a 2017 ReFrame mentee, strategic communications has played a critical role in their organizing work.
Lessons From the Field: Climate Change Organizing in the Trump Era
For 27 years, Cook Inletkeeper has worked to protect Alaska’s waterways and the life and people that they sustain. According to Brandon Hill, the organization’s Communications Director and a 2017 ReFrame mentee, that work is always an uphill battle.
Lessons From the Field: Winning the Fight to Save the Internet
Fake news, corporate control of the internet, digital surveillance, law enforcement agencies using big data to target communities of color — all of these issues have taken on increasing importance in recent years. The Center for Media Justice (CMJ), founded in 2008, is at the forefront in ensuring that communities of color are at the center of the debate and policy solutions to these critical problems.
Lessons From The Field Strategic Communications For Statewide Organizations
For statewide organizations that work on a variety of issues, it can often be difficult for their communications staff to manage and plan strategies to effectively get the word out about all of their organization’s work.
Lessons For The Movement
When we launched ReFrame in 2015, we had one mission in mind: to develop the next generation of strategic communicators — leaders rooted in grassroots movements who understand how to shape and control the narrative and stories about the issues they work on and, equally importantly, have the strategic thinking and skills to do so.
Dream of Where to Go
Reflection and evaluation allows us to understand if we are on the path to realizing our dreams. Heading into our third year of building the next generation of social justice communicators, we took time to reflect on what we have done so far.
Why Add Communications to Organizing Strategy? (Video)
Aquilina Soriano Versoza, Pilipino Workers Center
Fighting Disinformation, Building Narrative Power
We are organizing and telling stories on an uneven playing field, where the underlying narratives have long been shaped by highly conservative forces. This is the playing field on which mis-and-disinformation is spreading. So how do we combat it?
Announcing the new Disinfo Defense Toolkit!
Curated by ReFrame and PEN America for the Disinfo Defense League. Powerful tools to push back while continuing to advance our work for justice
We Came To Win: Reflections on Narrative Power in the 2020 Election
How key strategists built narrative power in 2020 during a global pandemic, the rise of the largest demonstrations for racial justice in US history, the highest rate of voter turnout and a significant defeat of Trumpism at the polls.
Defanging Disinformation: 6 Action Steps Nonprofits Can Take
Disinformation has become more effective at generating chaos and seeding doubt in reality. As part of our work with the Disinformation Defense League, ReFrame and This is Signals have committed to sharing lessons learned with the field and action steps on how to slow the spread of disinformation.