If you’ve opened up Instagram or Twitter today, chances are that you’ve seen posts of a single black blank square, sometimes with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter and #BlackOutTuesday.
In the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent worldwide protests to demand justice, people have been sharing the posts as a means of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. However, many of the posts have been criticized for drowning out necessary information and resources that can help the movement, and have been called out for being performative
What Is #BlackoutTuesday?
Two Black women in the music industry, Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, initially started the social media campaign to hold the music industry accountable for profiting off Black talent and creatives. Originally called #TheShowMustBePaused, the initiative’s intent to “disrupt the work week” has morphed into an altogether different beast as many began posting black tiles on Instagram with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, an important channel for activists and those protesting on the ground to spread news and resources.
In their original statement, Thomas and Agyemang wrote, “Tuesday, June 2nd is meant to intentionally disrupt the work week. Monday suggests a long weekend, and we can’t wait until Friday for change. It is 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.”
They explain how the multibillion-dollar music industry and its affiliates benefit from Black entertainment without empowering Black people at large. “To that end,” they wrote, “it is the obligation of these entities to protect and empower the Black communities that have made them disproportionately wealthy in ways that are measurable and transparent. This is not just a 24-hour initiative. We are and will be in this fight for the long haul. A place of action will be announced.”
While showing solidarity is important and can be well-intentioned, some have pointed out that posting a black square and using the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter prevents critical information from showing up in that hashtag, effectively clogging out activists, helpful resources, as well as photos and videos of protests. People have also pointed out that now is not the moment to be silent — instead, it’s time to be helpful and share resources and ways to support the Black Lives Matter movement.
If you’re posting a blank black square today, make sure not to use the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter or #BLM. Instead, you can use the hashtag #BlackOutTuesday and #TheShowMustBePaused. If you already posted with the BLM hashtag, you should remove your post since it’s already cached.