On June 2, social media feeds were filled with black squares as part of the Blackout Tuesday movement. Typically, the black squares were shared with the hashtags #TheShowMustBePaused, #BlackLivesMatter, #BlackoutTuesday or #BLM. The squares have also been shared without hashtags.
Users from across different social media platforms participated, but the Blackout Tuesday movement had some critics.
Blackout Tuesday stemmed from the music industry’s “The Show Must Be Paused” campaign organized by executives Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas. According to a statement from The Show Must Paused, the initiative is “in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless other Black citizens at the hands of police.” Agyemang and Thomas launched the campaign to “intentionally disrupt the work week” in the music industry but did not directly call for the sharing of black squares on social media.
The idea of The Show Must Be Paused is for members of the music industry, including record labels and artists, to intentionally disrupt their workweek and use June 2 as “a day to take a beat for an honest, reflective and productive conversation about what actions we need to collectively take to support the Black community.”
However, some have been critical of the campaign.
The Blackout Tuesday Movement Sparked Controversy on Social Media
The Blackout Tuesday movement has received backlash on social media from individuals who say the black square doesn’t mean anything if the person who shared it isn’t actively engaged in the Black Lives Matter movement.
Rapper Lil Nas X tweeted: “not tryna be announcing but what if we posted donation and petitions links on instagram all at the same time instead of pitch black images.”
A Twitter user named Hannah Woodhead wrote: “Lot of black squares on my Instagram feed from people who haven’t said s**t all week.”
Another user named Ellie tweeted: “i know for a fact half the people on my instagram feed have NOT signed any petitions or shared any links or useful information. A BLACK IMAGE ISNT GOING TO DO ANYTHING IF YOU DONT SHARE ANY LINKS. remember this is not an instagram trend, this is a real issue u need to help with.”
Some Noticed That the Blackout Tuesday Movement Reduced the Visibility of Important Information Being Shared on Social Media
Some critics also said that the black squares were clogging up feeds and reducing the visibility of important information regarding the Black Lives Matter movement. Musician Dillon Francis pointed out that when searching #BlackLivesMatter on Instagram, the result was mostly black squares.
Cristina Arreola tweeted, “cool that a day ago my instagram timeline was filled with resources and lists of Black owned business and Black authored books and places to donate and now it’s just a sea of black squares.”
Another user wrote: “my Instagram feed this morning is the biggest joke ive ever seen on [that] trash app. not only is this counter productive towards the blm movement, but it literally draws people’s attention away and clogs up social media so that people don’t see what’s really [happening] out there.”
Jeanna Kadlec wrote: “my instagram feed this morning is just a wall of white people posting black screens. like… that isn’t muting yourself, babe, that’s actually kind of the opposite! it’s taking up an absolutely WILD amount of space and does nothing!”
An Anti-Racism Educator Gave Her Thoughts on the Blackout Tuesday Movement
Monique Melton, who is an anti-racism educator, gave her thoughts about the black square campaign. In an Instagram post, she wrote that the movement missed the “whole point of the power & purpose of social media especially during this crisis.”
She said instead of only posting black boxes on Instagram “consider asking yourself this question, particularly if u hold white privilege..What can I do TODAY to stand in solidarity w/ Black lives in a tangible way? (Hint: make calls, send money, send resources, protest (with a mask and without instigating), etc.”
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