Blackout Tuesday: Social Media Movement Sparks Controversy

Blackout Tuesday

Instagram Blackout Tuesday

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.”

Here is the full post:

View this post on Instagram

It felt off when I woke up to see so many black squares. After reading more, I saw that it’s this whole social media movement that misses the whole point of the power & purpose of social media especially during this crisis. No, we don’t need to be silent for a day. No, we certainly don’t need to flood the Black lives Matter hashtags w/ black squares, which are then erasing & making it harder for us to find important news & info about this revolution. But just like I wrote yesterday about white tears centering whiteness & being performative, this too is another antic that is performative. What exactly is it going to do for Black lives to post a black square on social media? Nothing helpful for Black lives. But it will surely send off some virtue signaling for the white folks who are doing this. Instead amplify the voices of Black womxn…now is not the time, more than ever, to be silent. Reading @feministajones book about the power of social media & how it aids in the civil rights movement of our time has really helped me better understand the effectiveness of social media in our fight for justice. If it weren’t for social media, most of us wouldn’t even know George Floyd’s name. And it’s powerful hashtags like #sayhername by @kimberlecrenshaw that bring crucial awareness to the Black womxn who have been murdered by the hands of white supremacy, but often we rarely hear about it. Social media is a powerful tool of activism when it’s done well, but when not it can cause more harm than good. The black squares w/ hashtag Black Lives Matter are erasing the necessary & vital messages of this movement. This is not helpful. This does not help us stand in solidarity w/ Black lives, this is interfering w/ the fight & leaving Black lives in continued danger. If you must participate in the black squares then do so without the Black Lives Matter Hashtag. But instead, 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. Silence is violence even when it’s trendy

A post shared by Monique Melton (@moemotivate) on Jun 2, 2020 at 4:28am PDT


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