Black Lunch Table/user group report 2020
The Black Lunch Table Wikimedians applied for user group status in December 2018 and were recognized by the WMF in January 2019. The following report documents the user group’s activities between January--December 2020.
This period is identical to the receipt and granting period of BLT’s first WMF Annual Plan Grant and the dual crises of COVID-19 and The Movement for Black Lives.
For extensive detail about Black Lunch Table Wikimedian activities in 2020, our final APG report can be accessed at the following link.
Project and User Group DescriptionsEdit
Black Lunch Table (BLT) is a nonprofit organization and ongoing collaboration founded by artists Jina Valentine (Fishantena (talk)) and Heather Hart (Heathart (talk)).
In its sixteen-year existence, BLT’s primary aim has been the production of discursive sites, wherein cultural producers engage in dialogue on a variety of critical issues.
Black Lunch Table Wikimedians mobilize the creation and improvement of a specific set of Wikipedia articles that pertain to the lives and works of Black artists. In the field of mainstream contemporary art, Black artists and other artists of color, are still marginalized within our field.
Wikipedia estimates that 77% of their editors are white and 91% of their editors are men. Our work shifts this demographic and empowers people to write their own history. Our programming, including BLT Photobooth and edit-a-thons, equips new editors with the skills and resources to create, update, and improve Wikipedia articles and encourages existing editors to focus on Wikipedia knowledge gaps.
2020 was to be a lively year for BLT though not for the anticipated reasons. We happily had support from the Columbia College, Vancouver Art Book Fair, and Davidson College in addition to our first sAPG grant from the Wikimedia Foundation all allowing us to grow the project and meet our goal of engaging additional publics and providing the skills and resources for new and experienced editors to create, update, and improve Wikipedia articles pertaining to the lives and works of Black artists.
In advance of the arrival of COVID-19 in the United States, we were able to gather to host events in Chicago, IL, New Brunswick, NJ, and College Park, MD. Our engagements for 2020, although forced to move online after March still included geographically specific locations with our Regional Proxies in Houston, TX, Ilorin, NG, Miami, FL, and a new region, Seattle, WA.
After the arrival of COVID-19 and the requisite restrictions, our programming and its goals were also altered. We made two important changes focusing more directly on artists and experts to lead the programs and helping educators bring and adapt Wiki/curricula. One positive outcome of this period is that it has allowed us to begin to grow a new archive, first accessible live and then asynchronously for our community with recorded videos and zooms. All of our events are available online here. https://vimeo.com/blacklunchtable
We were forced to innovate within our programming and rethink how we remained in contact with our community. There were hard lessons and our aim was to operate with as much empathy with ourselves and one another as possible. Social distance really limited one of our key initiatives, the BLT Photobooth which allows our user group to focus on getting not only articles on underrepresented Black artists on Wikipedia but actually visualizing Black artists on Wikicommons by hiring professional photographers to take photos or artists at our events. Without physical gatherings at events, there would be no photo booth. At the close of the year, seeing that this pandemic will rage on long into the future, BLT partnered with photographer Andrea Cauthen to host an online Zoom photobooth and see if we could also adapt this format. Happily, with some adjustments, we did find success and look forward to hosting virtual photobooths alongside our online edit-a-thons. We hope this opens additional avenues of access, geographic and otherwise, for more Black artists to be visualized on Wikicommons.
All of BLT’s Wikimedia Photobooth contributions can be seen HERE.
BLT’s 2020 sAPG Budgets, attendant discussion, and amendments can be seen here.
During the 2020 calendar year, amidst the dual crises of Covid-19 and M4BL, we were able to engage over 300 editors, create 145 articles, and create opportunities for editors through 35 events on Wikipedia. In addition to the events that we hosted on Wikimedia platforms, we began additional programming that centers artists and experts on Instagram live and held an additional 15 events on other platforms that cannot be captured by Outreach Dashboard. For full details on our Wiki metrics please see the outreach dashboard Black Lunch Table 2020 Campaign.
Maintaining a team and working through the pandemic were successes for Black Lunch Table Wikimedians in 2020.
Programmatically we were pleased to begin hosting monthly BLT Bingo contests and a contest in collaboration with our regional proxy in Ilorin, NG. Moving all of our edit-a-thons online was a change but we still found successes with our goals of introducing the work to new folks and editors. Our all online programming during the year allowed us to work on other platforms that point users back to the Wikipedia project but do not necessarily originate there. This is actually an important part of how BLT engages new editors, they are not always on the platform but can be directed thereby engaging elsewhere and pointing them there.
Our most up to date news or event listings can be accessed through our linktree: linktr (dot) ee/blacklunchtable
Additional links of interest below
BLT's 2021 plans and goals are largely a continuation of our 2020 goals and initiatives. Due to the disruption of COVID-19 and the additional crisis of the M4BL expected progress for our 2020 cycle was altered and we plan to carry out many of 2020’s goals with some revisions into the 2021 cycle. We continue to focus on three focus areas: Nonprofit Operations, Team, and Edit-a-thons/Editors/Photobooth in the linked document.
A detailed list of goals for each of these three areas is linked in this document.
We expect to continue to cultivate our relationship with the Wikipedia movement and plan to be contributing to the WMF prioritization process as we see our user group and our communities as integral to the future of Wikimedia its goals of access and free knowledge.