The controversy behind #BlackOutTuesday

CBC Kids News • Published 2020-06-02 16:14

An excuse to avoid meaningful change, critics say

It’s #BlackOutTuesday, which means you may have noticed a string of posts featuring black squares on social media today.

But what does that mean? And why are some people celebrating the hashtag while others are saying it’s getting in the way?

The backstory

Two black women in the U.S. music industry came up with the concept in response to the death of George Floyd and other unarmed black Americans at the hands of the police.

Using the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused, Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang called on the music industry to shut down on June 2.

It’s a day to “take a beat for an honest, reflective and productive conversation” about how to support the black community, the women wrote in their Twitter post on June 1.

Tweet from the show must be paused explains the backstory.

When #BlackOutTuesday arrived, many in the music industry obliged, posting blank posts on their feeds and nothing else.

“Side by side,” was the caption on Drake’s post.

Instagram post from champagnepapi shows black square with caption Side by side.

Many athletes and sports organizations followed suit, including the Raptors:

Instagram post by the raptors shows black square with caption Black Lives Matter #BlackOutTuesday.

Superficial support?

Actors like Riverdale star KJ Apa also jumped on board.

But if you look closely at the comments on his Instagram post, you’ll see that not everybody is impressed by the idea of a blank post.

“Where’s a donation link? A petition link? I’m sorry, but you can do more with your platform,” wrote one user.

Instagram post by KJ Apa shows black square with caption #blackouttuesday

That idea, that #BlackOutTuesday might be making it too easy for people to look like they’re doing something to fight racism when they actually aren’t, reverberated across social channels on Tuesday.

“Is this activism?” asked Twitter user Nashia Naziim in her post:

Tweet by Nashia Naziim says people posting the black out tuesday on their insta while they didn't do anything else.

Burying resources

And then there was the concern by some members of the Black Lives Matter movement that the #BlackOutTuesday posts were cluttering their feeds and preventing people from finding important resources.

Black Lives Matter is a movement based in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K., which aims to fight anti-black racism.

Group members often use the #BLM hashtag to circulate petitions, legal advice, donation links and information about protests.

Tweet from Defethyst says if you're participating in the black out please use #BlackOutTuesday not #BlackLivesMatter!

Lizzo posted a video on Instagram on Tuesday to spread the word to her 8.7 million followers that they shouldn’t use the #BLM hashtag on their #BlackOutTuesday posts.

“It is flooding the hashtag search with just black pictures instead of information,” the singer said.

Instagram post by Lizzo says You can caption black lives matter, but don't hashtag please.

Deleted posts

The news caused some people to take down their black square posts, saying they would share resources instead.

As for the two women behind the original #TheShowMustBePaused movement, they posted a bit of a clarification on their channels on Tuesday.

“Please note: the purpose was never to mute ourselves. The purpose is to disrupt.”

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