Actress Emma Watson has received backlash on social media after participating in the “Blackout Tuesday” movement. On June 2, individuals around the world took to social media to post an image of a black square while using the hashtags #BlackoutTuesday, #BlackLivesMatter, #BLM or #TheShowMustBePaused. Some users did not use a hashtag at all.
The movement stemmed from the music industry’s “The Show Must Be Paused” initiative, which was organized by executives Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang. According to a statement, the two women launched the campaign “in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless other Black citizens at the hands of police.” The Show Must Be Paused movement called for members of the music industry to “intentionally disrupt the work week” on June 2 and use the “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.”
Although Agyemang and Thomas’ campaign didn’t directly call for people to share black squares and hashtags on social media, many individuals used this method as a way to support the movement, including Watson.
On Blackout Tuesday, Watson, who is a known activist, published three black squares and three white squares on her Instagram feed with the following hashtags: #blackouttuesday #theshowmustbepaused #amplifymelanatedvoices and #amplifyblackvoices.
Watson later published two more Instagram posts regarding the movement.
In the first, Watson said she was “holding off posting until #blackouttuesday ended in the UK” and shared a poem and text by Dr. Fahamu Pecou.
In the other update, she posted a series of text photos in which she said, in part: “Whilst we might feel that, as individuals, we’re working hard internally to be anti-racist, we need to work harder externally to actively tackle the structural and institutional racism around us.”
She also said that in the next few days, she would be sharing resources she has found helpful for herself. Watson finished “I see your anger, sadness and pain. I cannot know what this feels like for you but it doesn’t mean I won’t try to.”
Watson Shared 3 Black Squares With a White Frame Around Them & 3 White Squares
emma watson really posted three other blank black pics so it wouldn't ruin her aesthetic i- pic.twitter.com/uSOdQCQ1li
— victoire (@siriusclaw) June 2, 2020
After the Harry Potter star published the squares on Instagram, social media users pointed out issues they had with her contribution to the campaign.
Users were quick to point out that Watson shared a black square in a different way than most. She published three black squares with a white border as well as three white squares.
A Twitter user who goes by “maz” wrote: “emma watson making sure she adds a white border to fit her instagram aesthetic for this blackout bs after having said zero things, posted zero links for petitions, donations and funds.. there’s something wrong with her.”
Another user named Alice tweeted: “emma watson calling herself an activist while staying silent for five days, besides posting three blank picture that dont mean anything, now posting a black picture and four hashtags which are supposed to do what? POST PETITIONS, DONATE, BE ACTIVE. silence is not an option.”
Some Users Are Upset That Watson Didn’t Use Her Platform to Share Information About the Campaign
emma watson, a human rights activist, posting a black square on instagram rather than posting links to petitions and donation pages. she would have been better off staying quiet pic.twitter.com/C49iKNooQW
— jessie (@grangerslight) June 2, 2020
Some social media users are also upset that Watson didn’t share any other information about the movement besides the hashtags and images. One individual tweeted, “Look I like Emma Watson a whole lot but she should know better and she has a huge platform that she could be using effectively instead of taking up space with NOTHING.”
Another user tweeted: “emma watson got nearly 300k likes in 34 minutes and it was a performative activism post that doesn’t help [Black Lives Matter]. f**k her for not using that platform to share donation/petition links when she has a platform THAT BIG.”
A Twitter user named Alex wrote: “emma watson taking time out of her day to edit a black square so that it fits her instagram feed at age THIRTY but not posting a single link to donate/sign petitions just isn’t sitting right.”
Although Watson faced criticism, some fans defended the actress, citing her background as an activist and a UN Women Goodwill ambassador. One user posted:
I will not tolerate Emma Watson slander on my timeline. She has always been for human rights with a focus on feminism. She’s staying in her lane and simply saying: LISTEN TO BLACK PEOPLE #amplifyBlackvoices pic.twitter.com/STuremmz51
— Dani (@danidanidanidd) June 2, 2020