As companies and businesses weigh in on calls to support Black voices in America, many have chosen to show support by literally going dark on Instagram. Despite its best intentions, though, #BlackoutTuesday may be having unintended consequences.
The movement was created by two Black women in the music industry, Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, who birthed the idea to “disrupt the work week” by providing a 24-hour period where everyday life and day-to-day posts were suspended.
“Monday suggests a long weekend, and we can’t wait until Friday for change,” reads their website. The movement suggests that things to do today consist of taking a moment for reflection, support fundraisers for George Floyd’s family, Ahmaud Arbery’s family, and Breonna Taylor’s family. Those willing can also check out the Black Lives Matter movement for additional ways to help.
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Apple Inc shifted its music streaming service to celebrate African-American-made music and anthems in hopes of spurring on a bigger picture view for many of those blissfully ignorant to the current state of the world. Clicking on browse within the Apple Music app will bring you to a blank black page with white text.
“In steadfast support of the Black voices that define music, creativity, and culture, we use ours,” reads Apple’s BlackoutTuesday message. “This moment calls upon us all to speak and act against racism and injustice of all kinds. We stand in solidarity with Black communities everywhere.”
#TheShowMustBePaused sentiment has swept the music industry as a whole. Spotify joins Apple in spreading the movement, and artists from all over the world are sharing all-black images.
This is where the message and intention of this movement get messy. At a time when social media is being used to break news, find the lost, save the injured, and lift voices, inundating feeds with seemingly blank imagery is being seen by some as counterintuitive.
This point is expanded upon when posts using the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday are also including the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, making it harder to actually share stories and voices of those on the ground.
We’re hearing asks from the community that posts related to Blackout Tuesday use the hashtag #blackouttuesday, and not #blacklivesmatter. The #blacklivesmatter hashtag aggregates important information and resources for the community.
— Instagram (@instagram) June 2, 2020
“It has come to my attention that many allies are using #BlackLivesMatter hashtag w black image on insta,” activist Kenidra Woods commented on Twitter. “We know that’s it no intent to harm but to be frank, this essentially does harm the message. We use hashtag to keep ppl updated. PLS stop using the hashtag for black images!!”
It has come to my attention that many allies are using #BlackLivesMatter hashtag w black image on insta. We know that’s it no intent to harm but to be frank, this essentially does harm the message. We use hashtag to keep ppl updated. PLS stop using the hashtag for black images!! pic.twitter.com/eG2fPaybNW
— Kenidra4Humanity ~ BLACK LIVES MATTER ~ (@KenidraRWoods_) June 2, 2020
Others are speaking out to their followers in order to straighten a misaligned movement and to provide clarity on the purpose behind a blackout.
I, too, was misinformed!!! Glad I came across this. If you posted a black screen, pls if you can, delete, and instead make a more impactful post with helpful & informative links, ways you can help, where you can donate, etc. #blackouttuesday pic.twitter.com/kzK19iF5bs
— 𝕁𝕦𝕝𝕖𝕤🦋 (@JulesLevz) June 2, 2020
Many, however, simply feel that the effort further silences their voices.
Is #BlackoutTuesday for Black voices to be amplified or for Black voices to be silent? Sincere question.
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) June 2, 2020
— sloanestephens (@SloaneStephens) June 2, 2020
It’s all shade… I feel like this #BlackOutTuesday was created by someone who actually wanted to black out all the information and videos. DO NOT STAY SILENT!!! Talk your shit !!!
— LVNDR BLACK ✊🏿 (@lvndrbeauty) June 2, 2020
Confusion is the enemy.#BlackOutTuesday is confusing.
One day you want everyone to speak up.
Next day you are saying some stay silent.
I encourage everyone to speak up and don’t take a day off from speaking up for equality.
— MARCUS J. CAREY (@marcusjcarey) June 2, 2020